Becoming servant leaders

Bishop Bernard Paul conducted a formation session for over 200 ministry members from the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on May 22.

Jun 02, 2023

The ministry members washing each other’s feet as a sign of accepting servant leadership.

By Maria Yeap

Bishop Bernard Paul conducted a formation session for over 200 ministry members from the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on May 22.

Drawing from John 20:19-31, Bishop Bernard emphasised that resurrected individuals give rise to resurrected ministries. He reminded the participants that before encountering the Risen Lord, the early Christian community lived in fear and doubt. However, after encountering Jesus, they experienced joy, peace, and belief. They received forgiveness and were taught to forgive. Jesus always stood in their midst. The bishop urged everyone to be like the resurrected Thomas, resurrected disciples and to raise up resurrected communities.

The prelate highlighted the importance of each ministry having its own image. Referring to Ephesians 2:13-22, he explained that the disciples used images to convey their teachings to the people. Although images are not perfect or complete, they hold great significance as they can speak a thousand words. Images communicate the vision and mission of the ministry. The ministry’s image should be accompanied by appropriate words of God that drive and motivate its members, keeping them focused.

Bishop Bernard outlined the following mission for ministries:

--To respond to emerging needs 
--To evangelise 
--To build the body of Christ 
-- To listen, discern, walk, and work together.

The bishop compared ministries to tributaries, emphasising that if a tributary were to flow by itself, it would eventually dry up without a main source of water. However, when tributaries come together with the parish as the main river, the community becomes richer with the many gifts and charisms that each member possesses.

In the context of a synodal Church, Bishop Bernard explained that faith without action is meaningless. The Caritas Movement is where faith and action come together. It is not solely liturgical or biblical but a social response to the signs of the times. A church must be warm and welcoming.

During the final session, Bishop Bernard referred to Acts 2:42-47 to discuss the building blocks for ministries. These building blocks include the Apostles’ teachings, which require faithful catechists.

Additionally, the building blocks entail: 

-- Listening to the Spirit 
-- The six Ws of synodality (Welcome, Warm, Wide, Word, Worship, Witness) 
-- Identifying gifts and giftedness

The bishop emphasised that evangelisation involves reaching out not only to those who do not know Christ but also renewing the faith of lapsed Catholics. Furthermore, efforts should be made to nurture and strengthen the faith of a small percentage of regular churchgoers.

Regarding becoming a witnessing community, Bishop Bernard explained that the Malaysian Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) is currently at level one, where members gather for regular prayer activities such as the Rosary. However, the BEC needs to progress to level two, where people are motivated to make changes, involve individuals from different races in getting things done, and inspire everyone to improve the environment for the benefit of all. BECs in places like the Philippines and South America are currently at level three, where they engage in political activism and demand government action against corruption. By doing things differently and better, the community becomes a witnessing one.

As leaders in various ministries, it is important to recognise the gifts present in the people within those ministries. Some individuals may need encouragement to volunteer, and leaders must select the right person for the right position. Bishop Bernard explained that grace builds upon nature, and when the Holy Spirit touches individuals, their gifts become even greater. To conclude the session, Bishop Bernard commissioned and sent forth the 200 ministry members through a simple ceremony where each group of nine persons washed each other’s feet as a sign of accepting Servant Leadership.

Total Comments:1

Elizabeth Caroline Buri[email protected]
Hello, where can we find out more on the ministries and how to volunteer?