Pastor: Teamwork With Movements Key for Evangelization

Spanish Priest Encourages Harmony With Parishes

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MADRID, Spain, JUNE 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Teamwork between parishes and movements or other ecclesial communities is not always easy; but the new evangelization is depending on it, according to a parish priest from Madrid.

Father Francisco Garvía, pastor of Nuestra Señora de las Delicias, is the author of a chapter on the relationship between parishes, communities and movements in "A Vueltas con la Parroquia: Balance y Perspectivas" (Parish Involvement: Assessment and Perspective).

The contribution, titled "Parroquia, Comunidades y Movimientos" (Parishes, Communities and Movements), was originally a speech he gave last year at the XVIII Week of Pastoral Theology in Salamanca.

Father Garvía said in his text that a key to overcoming difficulties is to foster encounters that reflect "liberty, respect, generosity and mutual appreciation."

He further proposed accepting and educating in diversity, promoting coexistence and working to share responsibility.

"One difficulty is caused by pastors themselves," the priest acknowledged. "Our own thinking, sensitivity or pastoral line can impede a parish presence for the charisms proposed by the various movements and small communities."

Father Garvía said another risk is the total identification of the parish family with a particular community or movement, to the point that individuals only feel like true members of the parish if they belong to the particular group.

An idea that one's community is the "best model of community" also hampers the harmonizing of parishes with movements, he cautioned, "bringing the risk of confusing the Church with one's experience of Church."

"A community's conviction that only by belonging to it can a parish be built, [that it is] the sole model in the neighborhood of the parish community" is a risk, Father Garvía affirmed.

He said another difficulty that hampers teamwork is "distrust and mutual ignorance, which on occasions leads to exclusion and deprives lay people of their autonomy."

Upside

Still, Father Garvía proposed, there are far more possibilities than difficulties. "With the parish being the most significant place to manifest the Christian community, it would be good for groups, movements and communities to be integrated in it, to suggest that they develop the communal dimension in their formation, that they take part in essential celebrations of Christian life in the parish community, and that they be involved in the creation of a climate of communion.

"The movements and communities are called to be an integrating element in the whole of parish life, by being concerned and assisting in the common tasks of the parish, with their presence, animation and participation in key events and celebrations."

Father Garvía suggested that members of communities or movements should also be witnesses for a style of Christian life, especially for the young.

It is a question of "harmonizing the different charisms present in a parish community, so that they meet, get to know one another, and put at the service of all what is special in each movement," he said.

And the parish priest has an important role, in this respect, Father Garvía affirmed.

"It is to be hoped," he said, "that the parish will be a place open to the presence of different spiritualities, that it will present and promote them," so that "groups, movements and communities share prayer and celebration among themselves and with the rest of the greater parish community."

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On the Net:

"A Vueltas con la Parroquia: Balance y Perspectivas" (available only in Spanish): www.verbodivino.es