On Pastoral Stations
A. ARCHDIOCESAN SITUATIONER
To date, there are sixty-five (65) Members of the Diocesan Clergy in active major pastoral and administrative Ministries in the Archdiocese — discounting three (3) others assigned to responsible Seminary Offices elsewhere in service to other Ecclesiastical Jurisdictions.
Considering the rather young age of the local Presbyterium as a whole, the Good Lord willing, the number of diocesan Priests envisioned to render ecclesial service in the Archdiocese can be prudently predicted to grow still — somehow in cadence with the numerical growth itself of God’s People in the ecclesiastical territory.
Available statistics show that with an area of some one thousand one hundred twenty six square kilometers (1,126), there is a total population of some nine hundred ninety four thousand nine hundred sixty six (994,966) in the Archdiocese, ninety two percent (92%) of whom are baptized Catholics who then number to some nine hundred fifteen thousand three hundred sixty eight (915,368) individuals. Ministered to only by a total of sixty five (65) diocesan and seven (7) religious Members of the Clergy, this means that no less than about twelve thousand seven hundred thirteen (12,713) lay persons should be given pastoral service by every Priest.
B. CODE OF CANON LAW
The law provides that Parish is a definite community of Christian Faithful established or identified on a stable basis in a delineated area within a Particular Church such as an Archdiocese, the pastoral care of which is entrusted to a Parish Priest as its own pastor under the authority of the Archbishop (Cf Canon 515 par 1 CIC).
It is likewise provided by law that for pastoral necessity and/or administrative advisability, one or more Parochial Vicars may be assigned to a Parish Priest, As the latter’s collaborators and under his authority they all exercise the pastoral ministry through common counsel and labor (Cf Canon 545 par 1 CIC). Parochial Vicars may be appointed for the Parish as a whole, for a certain part thereof or a particular group of Christian Faithful in the Parish (Cf Idem par 2 CIC).
The rights and obligations of Parochial Vicars are thus defined not only by universal Church Law, but also more concretely by Diocesan Statutes and by the Appointment Letters of the Archbishop (Cf. Canon 548 par 1 CIC).
C. SECOND PLENARY COUNCIL OF THE PHILIPPINES:
The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-Il) of 1991, taking into consideration the national scene, made the following signal pronouncements:
1. “The community that needs renewal as a very important means and venue of Church renewal is the Parish. It is here where the full ministry and life of the Church is experienced by the faithful on a regular basis, In the Arch/Diocese, the Parish continues to be the customary place where the faithful gather to grow in holiness, to participate in the mission of the Church and to live out their ecclesial communion” (No. 598).
2. “Our Parishes are usually too big… The national ratio of the Clergy to the people is one (I) Priest for about every ten thousand individuals (10,000)… Indeed, the situation is far from ideal of what a Parish should be. A Parish should be a dynamic eucharistic and evangelizing Community of communities, a center which energizes Movements, Basic Ecclesial Communities and other apostolic groups and in turn is nourished by these” (Nos. 599-600).
3. “Pastors wherefore have to devise new and effective ways of shepherding the faithful so that the faithful will feel that they are part of the Parish family where each one is important, each one is needed, each one is served and is called to serve” (No. 601).
D. NORMATIVE PROVISION
Attentively considering the “Archdiocesan Situation” on the over-all pastoral picture of the markedly deficient number of the Members of the Diocesan and Religious Clergy not only in conjunction with the number of the Catholic lay faithful who all have the right to pastoral service, but also in relation to the still big territorial coverage of the Archdiocese whereat the said faithful have their domiciles established, further carefully attending to the provisions of the “Code of Canon Law” on the nature of a Parish, on the significance and implications of the Office of Parish Priests and of Parochial Vicars. and on the administrative and pastoral agenda of the latter open to greater definition and formulation, and finally responding faithfully to the pronouncements of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines” on the imperative of Parish renewal, of Parish manageability through new and effective administrative structures of shepherding, in line with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, “Pastoral Stations” are hereby established in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan according to the following norms of provision regarding their basic nature, inherent finality and administrative discipline:
1. Basic Nature
a. A Pastoral Station is a defined territory established within a Parish, the Christian Faithful in which are given administrative and pastoral service by a resident Member of a Pastoral Team Ministry or a Parochial Vicar thereto specifically assigned through the Parish Priest, with whom the former promotes collaboration and communion in his prophetic, priestly and kingly ministries in building those under his direct shepherding care into a community of faith, hope and love.
b. Any priestly ministry engaged in by a Parochial Vicar beyond the Pastoral Station he is specifically assigned to, within the Parish or altogether outside thereof, falls within the standard norm of jurisdictional delegation from the Parish Priest concerned.
c. A Pastoral Station with its resident Parochial Vicar is wherefore substantially different from a Parish proper, from a “Quasi-Parish”, and from a Chaplaincy according to their strict significance and implications.
2. Inherent Finality
More immediate and closer, more personalized and effective formational, liturgical and ecclesial attention to and pastoral care of the People of God residing within the territory covered by the Pastoral Station in order for them to have unity, become a community and enjoy communion through the study of the Word, the worship of the Lord, and service of neighbor — this is the overarching and inherent finality of Pastoral Stations.
3. Administrative Discipline
For administrative order and pastoral discipline, Pastoral Stations have the following observances:
a. They have their respective Pastoral Station Councils that have the same substantive, constitutive and functional nature as the Parish Pastoral Council, that coordinate and collaborate closely herewith, and that have permanent Financial Committees akin to the Parochial Board on Church Temporalities.
b. They draw pastoral, administrative and financial support from the Parish Churches wherein they are established, in the kind and manner needed, and thus accordingly stipulated with the confirmation of the Archbishop if required.
c. They use the Canonical Books of Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages and Deaths bearing the name and designation of the Parishes they are part of and whereto they should be entrusted for record purposes and safekeeping after their entries have been all used. They however use and keep their own Canonical Books of Holy Masses, Accounts and Inventory, bearing their own name and designation.
E. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
To better understand and appreciate the significance of Pastoral Stations in the life of the Parishes and in the ministry of Parish Priests, it is imperative to consider carefully the substance of the following Canons and to ponder well their connotations in conjunction with the great extent and intensity, the signal nature and magnitude of parochial agenda:
1. CANON 528 CIC
PAR. 1: “The Parish Priest has the obligation of ensuring that the word of God is proclaimed in its entirety to those living in the Parish. He is therefore to see to it that the lay members of Christ’s faithful are instructed in the truths of faith, especially by means of the homily on Sundays and Holy days of Obligation and by Catechetical formation. He is to foster works which promote the spirit of the Gospel, including its relevance to social justice. He is to have a special care for the Catholic education of children and young people. With the collaboration of the faithful, he is to make every effort to bring the gospel message to those also who have given up religious practice or who do not profess the true faith.”
PAR. 2: “The Parish Priest is to take care that the Blessed Eucharist is the center of the Parish assembly of the faithful. He is to strive to ensure that the faithful are nourished by the devout celebration of the Sacraments, and in particular that they frequently approach the Sacraments of the Blessed Eucharist and Penance. He is to strive to lead them to prayer, including prayer in their families, and to take a live and active part in the Sacred Liturgy. Under the authority of the diocesan Bishop, the Parish Priest must direct this Liturgy in his own parish, and he is bound to be on guard against abuses.”
2. CANON 529 PAR. 1-2 CIC
PAR. 1: “So that he may fulfill his office of Pastor diligently, the Parish Priest is to strive to know the faithful entrusted to his care. He is therefore to visit their families, sharing in their cares and anxieties and, in a special way, their sorrows, comforting them in the Lord. If in certain matters they are found wanting, he is prudently to correct them. He is to help the sick and especially the dying in great charity, solicitously restoring them with the Sacraments and commending their souls to God. He is to be especially diligent in seeking out the poor the suffering, the lonely, those who are exiled from their homeland, and those burdened with special difficulties. He is to strive also to ensure that spouses and parents are sustained in the fulfillment of their proper duties, and to foster the growth of Christian life in the family”
PAR. 2: “The Parish Priest is to recognize and promote the specific role which the lay members of Christ c faithful have in the mission of the Church, fostering their Associations which have religious purposes. He is to cooperate with his proper Bishop and with the presbyterium of the Diocese. Moreover he is to endeavor to ensure that the faithful are concerned for the community of the Parish, that they feel themselves to be members both of the Diocese and of the universal Church, and that they take part in and sustain works which promote this community.”
3. CANON 530 CIC
The functions especially entrusted to the Parish Priest are as follows:
1. The administration of Baptism.
2. The administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation to those in danger of death, in accordance with Canon 883, n. 3 CIC.
3. The administration of Viaticum and of the Anointing of the Sick, without prejudice to Canon 1003 par.2-3 CIC, and the imparting of the Apostolic Blessing.
4. The assistance at Marriages and the imparting of the nuptial blessing.
5. The conducting of Funerals.
6. The blessing of the Baptismal Font at paschal time, the conduct of processions outside the Church, and the giving of solemn blessings outside the Church.
7. The more solemn celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
CHRIST OUR GOOD SHEPHERD, BE WITH US ALWAYS!
The Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
(Central Pangasinan, Philippines)