• 20:02
  • Sunday ,04 July 2010

The Ministry (26)

Pope Shenouda III

Pope Shenouda Article


Sunday ,04 July 2010

The Ministry (26)

 The fields and characteristics of growth in ministry can be briefed in the following points:    Fields of growth in ministry: 1. Growth in number: We have covered this point in the preceding Article. 2. Growth in visitation extending to everybody: It starts with visiting the absentees, and develops into searching into the financial and spiritual needs of those ministered to, visiting students of Sunday Schools, and referring their families to the father priests to take care of them. 3.  Growth in organizing the ministry: This can be realized by using computer. 4. Growth in spreading the ministry: It should extend to villages, poor districts, and slum areas. However, some branches of ministry focus on big cities and ignore villages and new societies, or give more care to some districts and neglect the neighboring districts. 5. Growth in ministering to all types: Ministry in Sunday Schools, for instance, should not be confined to school pupils, but should extend to workers, to the illiterate, and to those who are far away from church and have no one to remember them. There should be special programs for each group of those. 6. Growth in the use of audio and visual aids: The importance of religious plays and films with their influence on youths and even on the grown up is undeniable. This artistic movement has already begun, and some films on saints' biographies have been produced. However, much care is still needed. Successful plays presented by some churches can be spread and the idea of producing such plays be encouraged in all dioceses, villages, and poor districts. It is recommended that that a committee be formed for such an activity.  

      Growth in care for libraries:    Almost in all churches, libraries are established, but most of them are for adults. There should be care to extend religious knowledge to all age brackets, especially the age of childhood that needs a special library in every church.  
      I remember in the year 1953, I had issued a magazine for children "Illustrated Sunday Schools Magazine", and on the following year I joined monasticism. That magazine soon turned into a magazine for adults, and such an important educational work ceased! I hope with God's grace to restore it once more with the help of those interested in writing for children or in compiling songs and stories. We also have already opened a library for children in the Patriarchate in Cairo, and I wish a similar one be in every diocese, since the age of childhood is the basic age in the life of every person, therefore we should give due care for it.  
   7. Growth in training or preparation classes for ministers: 8.  It is so dangerous that ministers start their ministry without getting prepared and trained. We need that the training of ministers increases and covers positive aspects extending to dogmatic, Biblical, liturgical, spiritual, and educational knowledge. Training should also handle passive matters that may face a minister, such as how to refute suspicions and heresies. Those already in the ministry need to continue learning by refreshing courses and advanced courses. This will keep for the minister the spirit of discipleship. 9. There should be growth in the ministers' meetings. There are some branches where the ministers' meetings are confined to giving instructions concerning certain activities, trips or celebrations, or to un-useful dialogues or discussions, which even may be offending. There should be improvement in knowledge and spirit, so that the meetings may be of benefit for a minister, new or old, and activate them spiritually and scientifically. That is why I have already published six books on the ministry and hope to publish more on the same topic.  10. Growth in providing care for youths: There is a very clear phenomenon in many branches, that the large number in the preliminary school stage decreases much in the secondary and university stage. A serious matter indeed that needs to be corrected! Among the reasons may be the weak knowledge provided in these stages, or the insufficiency of the ministers who can satisfy these age brackets. The Higher Commission for Church Education has issued a suitable curriculum for the secondary stage and provided it with books to assist the minister on one side, and to realize the unity of education on the other side. However, the issue of providing teachers and speakers still need to be solved. 11.  Growth in providing the needed numbers of speakers:  12. An adult certainly needs higher and deeper level of knowledge provided by higher levels of speakers, whether in church youths' meetings, or in university groups, secondary stage, and university. Therefore, we gave much care to the evening higher classes in the Seminary. These attracted large numbers in Cairo, as well as in the Seminaries of Upper and Lower Egypt, in addition to the conferences and activities provided by the Youths Bishopric and its ministers. However, more concern should be given to the speakers and their training so that they may grow in knowledge and commitment. We have already initiated a new project in this respect: 13. Microfilm and Microfiche Project: This project cost us over half a million pounds, but it is useful for the ministry; for it enables us to produce big amounts of microfilm and microfiche for all our manuscripts existing in the monasteries, old churches, and the Patriarchate's library and other. We can provide the libraries of our monasteries, our religious institutes, our churches abroad, some big churches, and the libraries of the dioceses and archdioceses with copies of these manuscripts, sot that references may be available to every researcher and Coptic knowledge may be established everywhere. Besides, we will be able to exchange knowledge with the world libraries and universities, for they also preserve much of our Coptic manuscripts. 14.  Growth of ministry activities: Some branches are satisfied with teaching only, whereas other branches have many activities. By growth here we mean the spread of activities everywhere. Some branches have the spirit and the desire but lack abilities to implement such activities. This requires visiting these branches and providing their needs. With God's grace I will form a committee of well known ministers to visit these branches and meet with us once a month in the Patriarchate to consider together the ministry affairs and requirements and the means of improving it.  15.  Seeking the lost, whether ministers or ministered to, and finding out the causes of their loss and the means to restore them. 16.  Growth of the ministers' spirituality: The more the minister grows spiritually, the more the spirituality of those served by him will grow, and the opposite. This should be the subject of discussion between the minister and his father confessor or with himself. Besides, every branch should take care of the spirituality of its ministers and their fulfillment of the spiritual requirements. Every minister and every branch ought to make evaluation of the ministry, consider the causes of weakness and the means to avoid them so that ministry may grow. 17.  Growth in consecration: Consecration is another measure of growth, for the deeper one's love grows for God and His ministry, the deeper will be one's desire to give more time for the ministry, even unto giving the whole time to the Lord. This is the means by which a person becomes consecrated to the Lord, whether as a minister, a priest, or a monk/nun.  The need for larger numbers of priests is increasing, but, regrettably, in some branches there may be nobody suitable for serving as a priest. It seems that in such branches ministry has stopped at the level of Sunday Schools' teachers! These branches need special care, evaluation of ministry, finding out the causes of such lack of growth, and treating these causes. This is sufficient for this point, and we shall discuss other points related to the ministry in other weeks, God willing.