Summary Report on CCCB Forum with Movements and Associations

Wednesday, February 10 2010

The Word of God: Identity and Mission
3-4 December 2009

Representatives from 29 movements and associations gathered for the CCCB National Standing Committee for Relations with Catholic Associations and Movements 11th Forum with Movements and Associations. The group was welcomed at the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa by the Standing Committee chairman and members of the CCCB Permanent Council. Representatives then introduced themselves, their respective organizations, and offered reflections on the questions presented to them with reference to the Word of God in their mandate and their organization’s response to the Christian call to proclaim the Word of God.

Bishop Durocher outlined the CCCB’s priorities, explaining the restructuring that has taken place at the Conference over the last few years. He explained that the CCCB has three National Commissions: Doctrine; Justice and Peace; and Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue; two Sectoral Commissions: Liturgy and Christian Education; and the Standing Committee for Relations with Catholic Movements and Associations, as well as two newly formed standing committees, Communications and Relations with the Federal Government. He outlined the priorities of each Commission as they have been identified by the annual Plenary Assembly.

The delegates were invited to share with the Bishops obstacles, challenges, successes and hopes being faced by their respective organizations and how the Bishops can assist them in their work. Challenges currently being faced regarding health care, education, human trafficking, Aboriginal issues, environment, preaching, volunteers and membership were identified. In brief, participants and Bishops raised the following points:

At the end of the afternoon, participants moved to Sacré-Coeur Parish in downtown Ottawa for the remainder of the Forum.

forum09_2ARCHBISHOP PRENDERGAST: Reflection on the Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church
Archbishop Prendergast was one of the six CCCB delegates to attend the October 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Word of God held in Rome. He shared a slideshow depicting his experience, the events and the flavor of the Synod. He explained the process that the Synod followed, highlighting that they did not only discuss the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, but they also prayed with the Scriptures. In particular, Lectio Divina became a strong theme throughout the Synod. He discussed the work involved in developing the final Synod document and named four aspects of the Word that were identified: voice, face, house and path. God has a voice: God writes a love letter to His people; it would be great richness for the Church if all persons were to discover that God’s Word addresses each one personally. God has a face: he becomes visible to us through Jesus. God dwells in the house, the community, the Church, a house that welcomes everyone without exception. God has a route, a path of love and service that leads to peace, hope, justice and reconciliation. Forum participants were invited to share reactions and personal experiences that relate to the Synod or how the Word of God affects them either personally or through their movements. The influence of Lectio Divina and the inspiration of the work of the Synod were among the key points identified.

The first day concluded with evening prayer following the Liturgy of the Hours. The following morning, participants gathered in Sacré-Coeur Church to begin the day with celebration of the Eucharist.

BISHOP CHAMPAGNE KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Evangelizers of hope in the modern world
Addressing the theme, The Word of God: Identity and Mission, Bishop Champagne invited participants to a deeper understanding of our mission to proclaim the Good News, whereby we are called to be messengers and evangelizers. Small groups reflected on how each of the respective organizations considers evangelization to be part of the mission of its members, its mandate, projects and priorities. They also considered how to better assist their members in developing a greater understanding of the mission, and how to support their work of evangelization. A key realization that emerged from the workshops was that evangelization is a core activity of the associations and movements, and that members need to work together and support one another in their communal task. Bishop Champagne noted that this mission is not exclusively the responsibility of the ordained – the movements and associations play a vital role in addressing the many challenges of today’s society.

The desire to develop a way to remain connected with one another once the Forum was over was raised several times. Jonas Abromaitis, CCCB Senior Advisor for Ecclesial and Interfaith Relations, encouraged the group to utilize the Standing Committee on Relations with Catholic Associations and Movements as the gateway for the various movements and associations to the CCCB.

PANEL: Proclaiming the Gospel in Today’s World
Representatives from four different movements/associations presented personal testimony regarding what it means to them, as a member of their respective organizations, to proclaim the Gospel.

forum09_3Forum participants were then invited to meet in smaller groups to discuss what it means in their personal lives to proclaim the Gospel today in the world, how we are personally called to be a messenger of the Good News, and how our movement/association is being called to proclaim the Good News.

ROUNDTABLE: How can Bishops and the Movements and Associations gathered here assist one another in proclaiming the Good News?
Five presenters were asked to make a brief statement on how Bishops, Movements and Associations can assist one another in proclaiming the Good News. Forum participants were then invited to enter into the discussion.

Report prepared by Tracy Blain