Clerics are called to be servant-leaders, says priest

DAVAO CITY, July 21, 2008 –The Dean of Academics of St. Alphonsus Theologate in Davao said that “a priest is called to be the shepherd or the servant- leader of the Christian community.”

Citing John Paul II’s encyclical “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” Redemptorist Amado Picardal said being a shepherd and servant-leader means forming and leading the Christian community in the parish and in the local communities or Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

He added that a priest is also called to promote communion and a sense of unity and sharing among the laity and with them. “This means becoming close to the flock (people),” stressed Picardal.

Picardal also explained that the ministry of pastoral leadership is to be exercised in the spirit of service and not in terms of power, privilege or prestige, adding:

“A participative and collaborative style of leadership is to be adopted, rather than the authoritarian or laissez-faire style.”

“This ministry is grounded on a spirituality of pastoral charity and communion,” he pointed out.

Prophetic Ministry

Picardal also said that a priest is called to serve in a prophetic ministry.

By serving the prophetic ministry, he said, the priest shares in Christ’s prophetic office.

“The ordained ministry is a ministry of the Word – of proclaiming the Word and witnessing to the Word. This involves the task of preaching, evangelizing, and catechesis,” he said.

He also added that this involves prophetic denunciation – of becoming a conscience in society and denouncing the sin and evil including injustice, oppression, the culture of death and violence, corruption, the destruction of the environment, among others.

“This also means calling people to repentance and conversion. This also involves prophetic annunciation – announcing the Good News of the Kingdom, of salvation and liberation, of justice and peace, and of life,” he said.
Picardal explained that the prophetic ministry of the ordained forms the Christian community/BECs into a prophetic community.

“The community that listens to the Word proclaims the Word and lives the Word, that acts as conscience of society and denounces sin and evil. The prophetic ministry is rooted in a spirituality nourished by the Word.”

“In exercising his prophetic ministry, the priest must be ready to risk his life,” he said.

Liturgical/Sacramental Ministry

Picardal also said that a priest exercises leadership in the liturgical/sacramental celebration of the Christian community.

“The priest enables the laity to actualize their common priesthood by promoting full and active participation in the liturgical celebration,” he said.

Picardal added that a priest forms the parish and the BECs into truly priestly/worshiping community.

“The community that celebrates what it lives and lives what it celebrates – a life of communion with God and with one another, of unity and sharing, of self-sacrifice
The liturgical/sacramental ministry requires spirituality nourished by the Eucharist and deepened by prayer and contemplation.”

Social Action Ministry

He also said that a priest is called to ministers to people who are poor, hungry, oppressed, victimized and dehumanized.

“The priest cannot be blind to their suffering. Social action is therefore a constitutive dimension of the priestly ministry. This is exercised in the context of the community,” added Picardal.

Thus, he said the priest has to form the Christian community/BECs into ministering/servant communities that address the problems that they face like poverty, hunger, injustice, violence, corruption, environmental destruction, violation of human rights and work for social transformation that will bring about justice, peace and development.

“In carrying out this ministry, the priest must avoid being subservient to political ideologies and parties. He must avoid involvement in partisan politics,” he pointed out, adding:

“This ministry requires spirituality rooted in compassion. It also requires a simple lifestyle, immersion in the life of the poor, solidarity with the poor, and forming the Church into truly the Church of the Poor.” (Mark S. Ventura)(CBCPNews)

One Response to “Clerics are called to be servant-leaders, says priest”

  1. Thomas J Rowan Says:

    I am nearing the end of a course on the Liturgy in a Developing Church. We have looked at our history and now are asked to look toward the future. I agree with the author of this piece that what could benefit the Church greatly are priests formed as servant leaders rather than cultic. If this will not happen, then it may be time for a parallel Church to grow and proclaim the servant Church.

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