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Haifa Latin parish launches pastoral council

Haifa Latin parish launches pastoral council

HAIFA – Diocesan and parish pastoral councils were formed after Vatican II to encourage lay participation in diocesan/parish decision making.  The decree on “Apostolate of Lay People” recommended the establishment of councils at all levels of the Catholic Church to assist in its “apostolate” or mission.  In the Holy Land this was promoted by the Diocesan Pastoral Synod in 2000.  Despite its importance and necessity, introduction of pastoral councils in parishes is not a easy operation because of a certain cultural mentality. For this reason the creation of a new Parish Pastoral Council is always important.

Recently, the Latin parish of Haifa officially formed its pastoral council with the election and appointment of 12 members which took place in June facilitated by its parish priest Fr. Abdo Abdo, ocd.  I with a day of retreat led by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Israel.

The elected members are: Nabil Kurzum; Issam Totry; Gabi Noufy; Nadia Kattura; Badie Nur (Abu Saleh) Odette Ayyub, Robert Touma; Elie Zeitoun, Simaan Abu Senneh; while  Sr. Gada Shalah Carmelite ST; Sr. Alà Jeegy, Franciscan CIM  and Sr Hana Elias, Sisters of St. Anne were appointed.

The day began with an introduction of the  ecclesial ministry of the pastor, who is the President of the Council and presentation of the members of the Council to Bishop Marcuzzo. The Bishop expressed joy and his congratulations to the members and wishes for a successful work over the next three years. During the conference, he shared his pastoral experience as a priest and bishop.  He also shared many if his experiences in pastoral councils – successes, positive and negative events. Bishop Marcuzzo concluded with three recommendations to practices and start to work successfully in a Pastoral Council:

1) Devote days of real training in biblical, theological, spiritual and pastoral care from the documents of the Council of the Diocesan Synod, the Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, and the Year of Faith:”  One is not born a member of Council, one becomes and is formed to be;”

2) Devote days for meetings  or even days to make a three-year general pastoral plan and a more specific program each year in the life of the Church and the Diocese., and all materials like, pastoral needs overview, perspectives and programs: “The ship of the parish cannot navigate by sight;”

 3) Organize meetings possibly with Councils of other parishes and other rites also to receive new “blood and oxygen” all the time otherwise the Council rotates on itself, to get new blood and oxygen all the time, otherwise it will likely grind on itself and dies of asphyxiation could always grind the same flour and dies of asphyxiation: ”   A pastoral council is essentially communion or by itself ceases to be a Council.”

The day ended with fraternal agape, a meeting dedicated to practical organization and the Holy Mass.  This is not the first ever Latin Pastoral Council in Haifa. But it is certainly a fresh start which promises a serious and constant work. The Year of Faith reminds us of the 50th anniversary of the Council, it is heartening to see a conciliar initiative takes root and grows stronger in our parishes.

From our correspondent in Haifa, photos by M.K.