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THE WORK OF THE PARISH PASTORAL FORMATION TEAM


(PPFT) AS A VOCATION OF THE LAITY IN ST. MARK’S PARISH
BABA I, ARCHDIOCESE OF BAMENDA-CAMEROON.

(End of year scientific paper)

Parish Pastoral Formation Teams(PPFTs) at a diocesan meeting with the Auxiliary


Bishop of Bamenda at the Pastoral Centre –Bamenda , Oct 2015.

Presented by:

BANGSI Anthony Ful – (Étudiant de 1ère Année DS.)

2016-2017 Academic Year

Accompanying Professor: VAN MEENEN Bernard

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Table of content

General Introduction............................................................................................................3

Chapter one: The Background and Role of the Parish Pastoral Formation Team.......4

1. Background information.
i. Vision of Vatican II that inspired the Bamenda Pastoral Plan…………….4
ii. Synod of Africa as a follow up to the Vatican II Vision…………………..4
iii. Pastoral Plan- Diocesan programme of Evangelization…………………..4
2. The Parish Pastoral Formation Team.
i. The cradle of Parish Pastoral Formation Teams…………………………...5
ii. Membership………………………………………………………………..5
iii. Role of the PPFT members………………………………………………...5
iv. Leadership………………………………………………………………….6
3. Six Years’ experience of the Team.
i. Successes
a. Centralized parish seminars……………………………………………6
b. Formation and animation of SCCs……………………………………6
c. Monthly meetings………………………………………………………6
ii. Challenges faced.
a. Irregular attendance at Meetings……………………………………….7
b. Inadequate resources for the sustenance of the Team………………….7
c. Lack of a stable status………………………………………………….8
Conclusion……………………………………………………………...9

Chapter two : the laity’s vocation in the church inspires PPFT’s role.

Introduction:.............................................................................................................................10

1. The definition of the laity.........................................................................................10


2. The distinctive vocation of the Laity. ......................................................................10
3. The Laity’s call to Communion. ..............................................................................11
4. The importance of the laity. .....................................................................................12
5. Discovering and living one’s vocation and Mission. ...............................................13
i. A receptive listening to the Word of God ....................................................14
ii. Fervent and constant prayers.........................................................................14
iii. Recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide...............................................14
iv. Faithful discernment of our personal gifts and talents .................................14
v. Historic situations in which one lives ...........................................................14
Conclusion ........................................ ...........................................................14

Chapter three: suggestions that could make PPFT more functional.

Introduction: ........................................ ........................................ ........................................15

1. Training Seminars: ........................................ ...........................................................15

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2. Give the PPFT a formal status ........................................ .........................................16
3. Make a clear work Calendar ........................................ ............................................16
4. Make a financial Budget and ensure its proper implementation ...............................17
5. Accompaniment ........................................ ...............................................................18
6. Evaluation ........................................ ........................................ ...............................18
7. On-going Formation ........................................ .........................................................18
8. Prayer is the Key ........................................ .............................................................19
Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………..19
General Conclusion ........................................ ........................................ .................19
Bibliography ........................................ ....................................................................20
Appendix ........................................ ..........................................................................22

SOME ABBREVIATIONS USED IN THE WORK

PPFT: Parish Pastoral Formation Team

PPFTs: Parish Pastoral Formation Teams

SCC: Small Christian Communities

A.D. :Anno Domini

St. : Saint

PPC: Parish Pastoral Council

Fr. : Father

D.S.: Diplôme Spécialisé

APFT: Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation Team.

PPP: Provincial Pastoral Plan

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General Introduction:

Bangsi Anthony Ful is a priest of the Archdiocese of Bamenda in the North West
Region of Cameroon. He has done training as a spiritual director in Bambui Cameroon and
training in Pastoral and Catechetical Ministry in Lumko Pastoral and Catechetical Institute
Germinston South Africa. He has served as curate for 4 years, Parish priest for 8 years. He has
also served as Catechists Chaplain and Coordinator of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation
Team(APFT) for 8 years. During these years some of these activities were carried out
concomitantly with the others. While doubling as APFT Coordinator and Parish Priest for 4
years he also served as the accompanying priest of his PPFT, a function which required that
he should facilitate the spiritual, intellectual and skills growth of the PPFT members. Another
experience Anthony has benefited from is the accompaniment of Seminarians as spiritual
director for over 5 years.

The PPFT is a team of mostly lay people charged with the implementation of the Provincial
Pastoral plan, the programme of evangelisation at the level of the parish and at other levels of
the local Church which is in Bamenda. As Parish priest of St. Mark’s Parish Baba I, as the
coordinator of the APFT and as the accompanying priest of the PPFT for a number of years,
he has become deeply aware of the strategic role of the Parish Pastoral Formation Team and
the need to make it work properly. It has been observed that when this team functions well,
things move on generally well in the parish and vice versa. If certain conditions are not met
by the members themselves, the Parish priest, the parish pastoral council and the entire parish
family, the team would not be able work well. When the team is not working well the entire
parish suffers. The principles on which the team is founded are very good but very often the
members and the parish family find themselves below their very expectations. With these
observations the question that comes to mind is: “how committed are the PPFT members and
how could their degree of commitment be strengthened?

In this study therefore we would seek to understand what brought about the PPFTs,
the nature, function and role of the PPFT at present, the inspiration which the Church’s
teaching on the laity can give the work of the PPFT and practical suggestions concerning the
growth of PPFT members.

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CHAPTER ONE

The Background and Role of the Parish Pastoral Formation Team.

1. Background information.
i. Vision of Vatican II that inspired the Bamenda Pastoral Plan.

The work of the Parish Pastoral Formation team can be traced back to the Second
Vatican Council which called for greater involvement of the laity in the evangelizing Mission
of the Church. According to this Council the Church is not predominantly the hierarchy, as
the Council of Trent had stressed. The Church is rather the hierarchy and those whom the
hierarchy is called to care for and serve.1 The council also taught that the laity has a role that
is proper to them. A role that is indispensable in the mission of the Church. ‘The apostolate of
the laity derives from their Christian vocation and the Church can never be without it.’2 It is
still this vision of the active participation of the lay faithful that inspires the work of the Parish
Pastoral Formation Team today in St. Mark’s Parish Baba I.

ii. Synod of Africa as a follow up to the Vatican II Vision.

Another major step that led to the foundation of the Parish Pastoral Formation Team was the
African Synod of Bishops which took place in Rome in 1994. After this Synod Pope John
Paul II promulgated the teaching of this Synod in his Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
Ecclesia in Africa on the 14th of Sept 1995 in Yaoundé Cameroon. The document highlights
various areas the Church in Africa needs to tackle with regards to the work of evangelization.
The Pope called on Episcopal Conferences to set up Justice and Peace Commissions at
various levels to promote justice and the defense of fundamental human rights. In this way
the Churches apostolate would not simply be improvised.3 He also recommended that there
should be a pastoral programme in each christian community. This programme will prioritize
formation of the People of God. The Pope urged the Church in Africa to ensure that all
pastoral agents are adequately trained for their apostolates.4

iii. Pastoral Plan- Diocesan programme of Evangelization

As a response to the Pope’s call for the establishment of a Pastoral Programme, the
Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda organized a convention in 1999 in Sacred
Heart College Mankon which brought together 640 delegates from the then three dioceses of

1
Lumen Gentium 39
2
Apostolicam Actuositatem 1
3
Ecclesia in Africa 106
4
Ecclesia in Africa 107

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the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda.5 The discussions of the Convention centered on
concrete ways of implementing the recommendations of Ecclesia in Africa. At the end of the
Convention and as a fruit of its proceedings, a Provincial Pastoral Plan was promulgated by
the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda. This Pastoral plan which is simple,
clear and practical , serves as an instrument for the implementation of the decisions and
orientations contained in the Ecclesia in Africa 6 at all the level of the Church in that province.
It is this Pastoral Plan which the Parish Pastoral Formation Teams are appointed to promote.

2. The Parish Pastoral Formation Team.


i. The cradle of Parish Pastoral Formation Teams.

“For the effective implementation of the Provincial Pastoral Plan, the Pastoral Formation
Team is necessary at the levels of the Mission station, Parish, Deanery, Diocese and
Province. The Pastoral Formation Team is a group of persons chosen by the catechist, Parish
Priest, Dean or Bishop to help in the task of evangelization.”7 The First Parish Pastoral
formation Teams were formed in the Archdiocese of Bamenda in 2006. These teams now
exist in all the 40 parishes of the Archdiocese of Bamenda. Each Parish Pastoral Formation
Team was formed after a Parish Seminar organized by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation
Team (APFT).8 The Parish Seminars were usually held on weekends from Friday afternoon to
Sunday. During the Seminar the vision of the Pastoral Plan was presented and the need for the
spread of the vision underlined.

ii. Membership

At the end of each of the Parish seminars mentioned above a PPFT consisting of 6
members was formed. The members of the team who were people interested in spreading this
new vision always emerged from among the people. They were neither appointed nor elected;
they simply volunteered and were usually applauded by the people. During the Sunday Mass
that closed the Seminar, the Parish Priest in the presence of the APFT members would
commission the members of the new team through an exhortation, prayer and blessing.

iii. Role of the PPFT members

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The Ecclesiastical Province at the time had 3 dioceses: The Archdiocese of Bamenda, the diocese of Kumbo
and the diocese of Buea. In 1999 the diocese of Mamfe was erected and in 2016 Kumba diocese was erected
bringing the number to 5 at present.
6
J. ATEH, E. NJONGAI, et C. TATAH, Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province Pastoral Plan/ Towards the
Implementation of : ECCLESIA IN AFRICA, ARISE, Bamenda, 2009, P. 9.
7
Ibid., P.106.
8
The Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation Team (APFT) is a three member team that was officially set up by the
Archbishop of Bamenda in 2006. Its coordinator is a priest.

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“The main responsibility of this team is the formation of the People of God in the ‘New Way
of being Church’. To be more concrete, these individuals with the authority that chooses
them brainstorm on the reality of the Church at a particular level and make suggestions to the
authority in question, who uses the information either during Pastoral Council meetings or in
its ordinary running of the affairs of the Church at that level. The PPFT also acts as the
technical arm of the Pastoral Council and follows up the decisions of the Pastoral Council at
its particular level under the prudent guidance of the authority in question; it evaluates the life
of the Church at that level and carries out the formation of the people of God.9 The members
are not supposed to change often since their work demands aptitude and skills which may not
be easily found in a new team. The most important condition for membership is availability to
serve and the interest to empower other people. The members could be women, men, adults or
youths.

iv. Leadership

Each PPFT has a coordinator and secretary. The coordinator is a member of the lay
faithful whose duty in keeping with his title is to summon meetings, and facilitate meeting
sessions. He in consultation with his team could invite other experts to come and give training
in their parish. The Parish Priest is a member of the Team because it is actually his greatly
needed technical arm. It would not work well if he is not committed to its activities. He
accompanies the members spiritually, morally and pastorally. He may appoint other
accompanying priests to the team if he so wishes. PPFT members are not to work only for
pay, rather they are to see their task as a call from Christ to serve him through their
communities. For them to grow in this way they need spiritual exercises like recollections,
retreats, Gospel sharing and frequent reception of the Jesus in the sacraments.10

3. Six Years’ experience of the Team.


i. Successes
a. Centralized Parish Seminars.

The Parish Formation Team of St. Mark’s Parish Baba I, is about 6 years old. It started when
the Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation Team visited the Parish for a Parish Seminar. After the
Seminar the following members emerged as members of the team: Emilia Chayi
(Chairperson), Momokwe Emmanuel (Secretary), Elizabeth Yenise, Monica Fola, Esther
Bonde.(members) These are the original members who were later joined by John Jue, and

9
Ibid., P. 106-107.
10
Confer supplementary sheet in-between page 106 and 107 of the Provincial Pastoral Plan.

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Martin Faboye. Fr. Frans Meulemans worked with the team in his capacity as Parish priest
during its first two years of existence while Fr. Anthony Bangsi worked with it for four years
before handing over to Fr. Benedict Ndikum in 2016. Two Centralised trainings have been
organized by the Parish Pastoral Formation team. These have been moments when Small
Christian Community leaders, Commission leaders and leaders of other groups came together
to the Parish Headquarters to be trained by the PPFT members on various skills.

b. Formation and Animation of SCCs

The PPFT has carved out over 50 Small Christian Communities in all the Mission stations of
St. Mark’s Parish Baba I and supervised election of SCC leaders in all these SCCs.11 Every
SCC carved out now can boast of a leader, a Secretary, an assistant leader and other
necessary executive members. They have been making visits to mission stations especially
those that are facing difficulties implementing the Pastoral Plan.

c. Monthly meetings.

To adequately prepare itself for effective work this team meets every First Thursday of the
month for a recollection, evaluation of its work and to plan and prepare for up-coming
activities. Each time this monthly meeting takes place as it should the members enjoy it,
evaluate their activities, plan well and undertake the month’s activities with greater self-
confidence and enthusiasm. Each time it fails to do so or takes place haphazardly this affects
the PPFT monthly programme adversely.

ii. Challenges faced.


a. Irregular attendance at Meetings.
One of the challenges the team faces is to match the above mentioned principles with
the appropriate actions. Some of the members come late for meetings and formation sessions
or do not come at all. Some come and leave early or get distracted during the meetings. When
this happens sometimes the meetings and formation sessions fail and those who had made
time to attend go back home disappointed and discouraged. When a member stays away from
a meeting and training session often this plays on his or her performance and self-confidence.
Those who miss trainings but still insist on functioning as team members and leading people,
do not usually perform well and end up irritated.

Irregularity at meetings is caused by a number of factors. All PPFT members have


their different jobs through which they sustain themselves and their families. When they

11
A. BANGSI, Handing over Notes, Baba I, 2016, (unpub. work).

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return from their job sites they sometimes do not succeed to make it on time either due to
tiredness or transportation difficulties. Sometimes the two responsibilities are too heavy on
them. Those who are farmers need to clean up themselves and take care of other personal and
family needs before the meeting.

b. Inadequate resources for the sustenance of the Team.

The challenge of providing a sustainable means for the Team is very crucial. Team members
have to live; they have family members to care for. They have to travel to the earmarked
venues where their team activities have been scheduled. Some of the distances are quite long
and none of them has an available means of transport. Sometimes the parish allows them to
sponsor the expenses of their transport and other expenses incurred in connection with the
teams approved programme. It has been proven that when adequate financial means is
provided to the team its performance and productivity is greatly enhanced. When the needed
resources are not provided, the teams work is slowed down. The Parish Priest or the Parish
Financial secretary needs to be very sensitive to the needs of the team members. Whenever
they have spent from their pockets to accomplish the teams work, reimbursement should be
proposed to them. This has not always been the case. That may be why some of them take
absences from meetings and training sessions. From the look of things, the number one
priority of their life is the work they do to earn a living. The work of the Parish Formation
Team only takes second place. The Pastoral Plan is the Programme of evangelization. It is the
reason why the parish exists and so the technical team charged with its implementation is the
heart bit of the Parish. The Archbishop of Bamenda, Cornelius Fontem Esua, underlines the
importance of the Provincial Pastoral Plan in the following words: “Our Provincial Pastoral
Plan, imperfect as it may be, is the programme of evangelization for the coming years and all
the other programmes and pastoral initiatives, individual or collective, should be situated in it,
if they want to be recognized and find their legitimate place”.12 Mindful of the importance of
the activities of the PPFT, the Diocesan finance Committee recommended that all parishes
make a budget for the implementation of the Pastoral plan at the beginning of each year and
ensure that this budget is properly implemented. It has been observed that some of the budgets
are not backed by liquid cash. Sometimes too the money is not disbursed at the right time
making team members appear as beggars. On the other hand some team members do not give
clear accounts on how they used the money given them for the team’s work. Money is easily

12
C. F. ESUA, Among you as a father and brother/ an address presented by Most Rev Cornelius F. Esua on the
occasion of his induction as the new Archbishop of Bamenda, Bamenda, 2006, (unpub. work).

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provided, and justly so, when honest accounts have been given. Unaccountability and lack of
transparency sometimes affects the degree of trust between the Parish financial office and the
team members. The parish finance office also needs to be accountable to the team. This is in
the situation where the team members are encouraged to spend from their pockets because the
parish has not got money at that moment.

Many people have not fully understood the whole vision of the New Way of Being
Church. This means that the task is still immense and requires more resources. The financial
sustainability of the team is a challenge that must be overcome for it to function properly and
carry out the work which the parish has given them.

c. Lack of a stable status.

The Parish Pastoral Formation Team members do not have a stable status. They are not
appointed through an official letter. That is why a Parish Priest could change them even for
unjustified reasons and they would not have any official paper to prove that they belong. One
of the things that gives credibility to team members is their openness to follow training
programmes organized by the APFT. The more skills they acquire the more the parish
authorities and the whole parish family appreciates and treasures them. When it is proven that
they receive parish money and do very little or no work people begin to feel they are not
working well and so should be changed. When the work is well carried out, the members
themselves become the primary beneficiaries of their very work. They become happy and
fulfilled in their work. This lack of a stable status also affects the performance of the team
members. Could it be this lack of a status that makes some of them act as if the task of the
PPFT was not fully their business? When one knows that one is known and recognized as an
individual by ones authority, this gives him or her a greater sense of responsibility.

Conclusion

The work of the Parish Pastoral Formation Team in St. Mark’s Parish Baba I, is indispensable
for proper evangelization therein. Much work has been done to build the capacity of the
members and to facilitate their work but much still needs to be done. Because of the
challenges mentioned above, some of the members are tempted to slow down and even seize
their participation in the team’s activities. I wish that our reflections in this paper be an
encouragement to PPFT member who are toiling in their respective communities and that this
would help parishes find solutions to some of the challenges faced in the running and smooth
functioning of the PPFTs.

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CHAPTER TWO :

THE LAITY’S VOCATION IN THE CHURCH INSPIRES PPFT’S ROLE.

Introduction:

The Laity are a core and an ontological entity of the very essence of the Church. There
has never been a people of God without the laity, just as there has never been a democratic
government without a people. From time immemorial, they have been agents of
evangelisation right from early biblical times, though their contribution was not recognised by
the Church leadership in some periods of Church history.13 In this chapter we shall attempt a
theological reflection on the work of the PPFT as a fulfilment of the vocation of the laity in
the Church. Mindful that the PPFT is made up mostly of the laity, we are going to do this by
exploring the meaning and the specific vocation of the laity in the Church. At the end of this
chapter we should be able to say whether the PPFT can enable a lay faithful to fulfil his
vocation or not.

1. The definition of the laity.

The word laity is derived from the Greek word laos and its adjective laikos, meaning
“people” – all members of the Church, the people of God. When the Code of Canon Law on
the other hand speaks of “lay members” it means, “non clerics.” This in principle includes
non-clerical religious, sisters and brothers. In essence these are “lay” religious. Plain laity are
therefore defined by a double negative, non-clerical, non-religious.14 However, this
classification makes the laity feel second-class citizens of the family of God.15

2. The distinctive vocation of the Laity.


The laity are not second class members of the Church and are not less than the clergy
and the religious in dignity. Their vocation is unique in character consisting in seeking the
Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of
God.16 The parable of the vineyard owner in chapter 20 of Mathew’s gospel points to the call
which God addresses to each of his children. At the start of Jesus’ ministry he called his
apostles and sent them out to proclaim the Good News of salvation. From that distant time
the call of the Lord Jesus, ‘You go into my vineyard too’(Mt. 20:7) never fails to resound in

13
J.K. BITOLE, Awakening the laity. Ugandan pastoral approach (SPEARHEAD, 161-163), Eldoret, AMECEA
Gaba Publications, 2013,P. 1.
14
Lumen Gentium 31.

15
Ibid. pp. 2-3
16
Christifideles Laici 9.

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the course of history: it is addressed to every person who comes into this world. The call is a
concern not only of Pastors, clergy, and men and women religious. The call is addressed to
everyone: lay people as well are personally called by the Lord from whom they receive a
mission on behalf of the Church and the world.17 We come to a full sense of the dignity of the
lay faithful if we consider the prime and fundamental vocation that the Father assigns to each
of them in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit: the vocation to Holiness. Holiness is the
greatest proof of the dignity conferred on a disciple of Christ. This call to Holiness is rooted
in Baptism and proposed anew in the other Sacraments, principally in the Eucharist. Through
Baptism they come to share in the same life of holiness of Christ which is nourished and
sustained by the other sacraments. This new life enables them to fulfil their own state of life.18
But the ‘people of God’ or laos in biblical terms embraces a plurality of relationships.
One relation is between God and Israelites, the chosen people of God. While the other is
between disciples of Christ and the rest of humankind; Christians, whose vocation is to
continue the salvific mission of Christ as He mandated His disciples: All authority in heaven
and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, make disciples of all nations;(Mt28.18)
3. The Laity’s call to Communion.

The call of the laity is also a call to communion, a call to live and work together in a spirit of
unity and collaboration with the other members of the Church. “At all times and in every race
God has given welcome to whoever fears Him and does what is right. God, however does not
make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one
another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which
acknowledges Him in the truth and serves Him in holiness.”19 Disunity, egoism and
individualism does not go together with the vocation of Christ faithful. Rather they are called
to work together with others because they are members of Christ body which is the Church
and Christ Himself the head of his Church. (1Cor. 12:27) Each one who is a member of this
body can function well only in the body. Each one of us is unique and called in a special way
to do something which only he or she can do but to do so in communion with the others.

This is how the PPFT members must see their work- as a vocation from God carried out in the
Church. They are core members of the Church and essential to the Church’s mission of
evangelisation. It is also in this way that the other members of the Church: the Parish priests,
the men and women religious, the Parish Pastoral councillors etc have to see this team. It is

17
Christifideles Laici 2.
18
Christifideles Laici 16.
19
Lumen gentium 9

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only when the PPFT members and the other members of the parish understand the vocation
and mission of the PPFT in this context that the vocation would then be able to flourish. This
is because as experience shows, one cannot answer a call when the call has not been heard.
The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of
one’s call and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfil one’s mission. A PPFT
member who has not been adequately predisposed through appropriate formation to discover
and live his or her vocation as a member of the lay faithful specially called may just be
capable of doing his own things his own way and not actually answering his vocation. Just as
not all “Christians” are Christians so not all “PPFT members” are PPFT members. Those who
have not yet discovered and are living out their baptismal vocation to the full in this state are
PPFT members in the making if they so desire. Those who do not open up to formation in
order to discover and live their vocation would just be PPFT members in name. They need to
be advised to resign.

4. The importance of the laity.

About the year 250 A.D., Origen advocated the indispensable presence of the laity in the
consecration of their Bishop. He also taught that, in accordance with the teaching of the
apostle Peter, the laity are as sacred and holy as the ordained priests.

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to
sing the praises of God who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you
were not a people at all and now you are the people of God; once you were outside the mercy
and now you have been given mercy. (1Pt 2:9-10) St. Peter here insists that the whole Church
is the depository of Gospel values. Origen is reported to have delivered a sermon on the theme
of lay participation in the sacramental life of the Eucharist in the following words:

“But where no college of ministers has been appointed, you the laity must celebrate the
Eucharist (service) and baptise. In that case you are your own priests for where two or three
are gathered together, there is the Church even if these are lay people.”20

The basic conviction of Origen is that the laity are core members of the Church and
are not on the periphery as some may think. Similarly, the laity have a right of participation in
matters that concern the whole church such as, the election of the local church leaders, namely
the bishop since all these choices affect their lives.

20
J.K.BITOLE, Op cit. P. 10.

12
There is a basic equality among all the Disciples of Christ; that is the clergy and laity.
This equality cannot be simply glossed over without crippling the Church’s mission and its
image in the secular world. All Christians by virtue of their baptism, including the non-
ordained, are set apart and consecrated for the task of building up the whole Church. It is
therefore unacceptable that one group dominates another as dictatorial temporal rulers, since
all depend on Christ as their Lord and Saviour. In baptism all share in Christ’s very being; his
mission and prerogatives.

The contribution of St. Cyprian to the empowerment of the Laity in the Church is
practical and pastoral in character. He was convinced as a Bishop, that there is an actual
element of inter-dependence among all members of the local diocesan Christian community.
Cyprian was also aware that the laity contributes to the Church’s growth as Christian parents,
prophets, teachers, catechists, financial supporters etc. He believed in the harmonious team-
approach between the laity and the deacons, that is why he wrote the policy of his episcopate:

“To study together with the laity what the government of the church required and after
examining everything together, to come to careful decision… for I have made a rule from the
beginning of my episcopate to decide nothing without your advice and the people’s(Laity’s)
agreement, according to my opinion.”21

The stress laid on the important role of the laity in the Church here does not down play
the importance of the ordained minister. Imagine how helpless the church would be, if the
ordained ministers are not there to serve the people of God by proclaiming the Good news and
celebrating the sacraments. The Church would hardly move on without the collaboration of
the laity and the ordained ministers. The danger which we seek to avoid is the distinction that
militates against the unity of the people of God. Paul observed in the early church the feeling
that Christians from Jewish origin were considered superior to Christians of the gentile origin
and sanctioned the situation as follows: “ … all of you are the children of God, through faith,
in Christ Jesus, since every one of you that has been baptised has been clothed in Christ.
There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be
neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal.3:26-28) The collaboration
between the laity and the ordained would have different expression but remains absolutely
fundamental to the life of the Church. It is within the context of this relationship that the place
of the laity could be able to shine out.

21
J.K. BITOLE, op cit. P11.

13
For the members of Christ lay faithful to find their proper place in the Church today,
the ordained minister has an important contribution to make it happen. If he respects them,
listens to them, loves them, spends time with them, accepts, forgives them, challenges them
and loves them, this would definitely illuminate their importance and lead them to higher
levels of commitment in the church’s life.

5. Discovering and living one’s vocation and Mission.

From the afore mentioned discussion we understand that God calls the lay faithful as
well as the clergy and men and women religious to serve him in their various states of life.
To be called is one thing and to be aware of the call is another. If one who is called does not
hear and understand the call he or she would be incapable of answering the call. That is why
we would now be looking at how one discovers, understands and lives his or her vocation.
Within the lay state there are yet diverse “vocations”, that is, different paths in the spiritual
life and apostolate which are taken by individual members of the lay faithful. There are
different ways by which we could boast our relationship with God, worship him and do his
will through humble service to our brothers and sisters. To be able to bear such fruits God
keeps us grafted on to him. The vitality of the branches depends on their remaining attached
to the vine, which is Jesus Christ: He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit, for
apart from me you can do nothing(Jn 15:5) Important dispositions for discovering and
discerning our vocation are given in Number 58 of Christifideles Laici and include the
following:

i. A receptive listening to the Word of God:


God speaks to us today above all through his Word. Jesus is the Word incarnate. This Word is
proclaimed and interpreted for us today in the Church. The Holy Bible is proclaimed during
the liturgy when God himself speaks to us calling and inviting us to come to him and to do his
will so that we would have life.
ii. Fervent and constant prayers:
To pray is to be with the Lord, listening to him, responding to his admonitions and imploring
his assistance. It is by so doing that we discover what God is asking of us.
iii. Recourse to a wise and loving spiritual guide:
There are moments in life when we are faced with many choices and when our vision is
blurred by pain, suffering and misleading lifestyles. At such moments we need people who
are interested in our life’s project and who are mature enough in their relationship with God to
be able to help us out.

14
iv. Faithful discernment of our personal gifts and talents:
Each one of us has been endowed with gifts and talents which are meant for service of our
brothers and sisters. We need to take an honest look at ourselves to see what we are truly
capable of in other to avoid taking on what is not proper to us and also avoid wasting our
gifts, time and talents.
v. Historic situations in which one lives:
It is in the unfolding of our history and in the various events of our life that God reveals his
eternal plan to each one of us. It is a gradual process, one that happens day by day that is why
it is important to examine our lives regularly and draw out useful lessons from God.

These are the five things that would help one discern ones vocation in life. When it has been
discovered, he or she can now set out to fulfil it. The absence of these elements in one’s
life would very much hinder the proper discernment and fulfilment of one’s vocation.

Conclusion

If a PPFT member understands his call as a member of Christ lay faithful well and
lives it out within this special state then he or she is fulfilling his or her vocation and
collaborating with God’s plan for the salvation of all peoples. In our next section we shall be
looking at practical suggestions concerning the growth of the PPFT members in their vocation
mindful that everyone needs on-going formation.

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CHAPTER THREE :

Suggestions that could make PPFTs more functional.

Introduction:

The PPFT like any human group has its strengths and challenges as outlined in the
first part of this work. The role of the PPFT is very pivotal in every Parish of the Archdiocese
of Bamenda because it is the technical arm of the Parish pastoral council (PPC) charged with
the special function of implementing the Pastoral Plan, the diocesan programme of
evangelisation. It is the desire of the Bishops, priests, catechists, consecrated men and women,
and in fact every Christian to see that this team works well. We would know it is working
well when its main objective which is the implementation of the Pastoral plan, is achieved.
Mindful that the team has to a certain extent not been able to reach its target we set out in this
chapter to make some suggestions that could be explored to make the team improve its
services. Some of the things suggested are already being done in one way or another. What
would be new may just be a change of strategies that could bring about the desired changes.

1. Training Seminars:
It would be helpful if a training Seminar is organised for PPFT members and their
close collaborators each time new members are recruited. This means that the training would
not only involve the PPFT members but could also include the Bishops, the PPCs, the Parish
priests, the Catechists etc. The involvement of these groups is important because the Diocesan
community which is served by the PPFT, is made up of these categories of persons. PPFT
members are servants and the community is its master, reason why it is important for PPFT to
understand “the master’s likes through this forum and get set to please him”. The seminar
could cover areas like The vision of the Pastoral plan, Vocation and role of the PPFT, the
expectation from all the various categories of Christians and the relationship between the
PPFT and the other groups. This training seminar would have as one of its goals to help
participants understand the organigramme of the Pastoral plan and the Lumko participatory
method of teaching adults. In this way they would grow in self-confidence, degree of active
participation and be able to enjoy what they do. The Seminar could also include aspects of
human and spiritual formation so that PPFT members are helped to grow in an integral way.
This could include topics like acts of respect, how to listen to people, how to work in as a
team, prayers, importance of silent meditation, the place of the sacrament of reconciliation,
budgeting and accountability etc. The use of questions for personal reflection, writing and
sharing in small groups could help participants interiorise concepts and become transformed

16
from within. Such a Seminar would be organised by the Archbishop’s office through the
Archdiocesan Pastoral Formation Team and the Diocesan Finance Committee. Above all
PPFT members should be helped to understand clearly through their formation this fact: “if
you want to have any impact on your society change yourself’. 22 The first beneficiaries of the
seminars they organise should always be PPFT members themselves.
2. Give the PPFT a formal status:
After this first training or an on-going formation, PPFT members could be
commissioned during the Eucharistic celebration marking the end of the training seminar, and
could be awarded Certificates of participation signed by the Bishop, the respective Parish
Priests and the PPC chairpersons. This certificate could also serve the purpose of an
appointment letter formerly announcing that each of the members concerned has been sent to
serve in a particular parish. Before this appointment, the parish community could be consulted
to confidentially get their own approval. Their community knows them sometimes better than
the hierarchy and stand a better chance to say whether they would be able serve them well in
that capacity or not. Their approval indicates that they would be able to collaborate with them
and support them when they begin work. In 2015 the diocese of Portsmouth formed its
evangelisation strategy teams. The vision was first conceived by its Bishop as published in
their website. First each pastoral area of the diocese was to organise a Holy Hour in either
January or February that year for the success of the new evangelisation programme and for
the intention of the new evangelisation teams. In January and February Clergy were to
recommend to the coordinating Pastor lay people who could constitute their teams. Lay
people were also encouraged to offer themselves. The coordinating pastor was to meet the
potential team members in Lent. After a time of prayer and discernment, the coordinating
pastor was to appoint 12 team members (including 8 lay people and 1 religious and 3 clergy).
Step by step guidelines, formation and agendas were to be supplied by the Bishop’s office.23 I
see that constituting Portsmouth’s strategic teams this way gave them a certain status or
recognition that could challenge them to greater commitment. For the St. Francis de Sales
Catholic Church Lumberton, North Carolina- USA, “Pastoral Team members are those who
are involved in the day to day ministry of the parish. They may be full time, part time or

22
This is from a video once posted on the Whatsapp forum of the Priests of the ecclesiastical Province of
Bamenda.
23
http://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/evangelisation-teams/ (consulted on the 4th of
February 2017.)

17
volunteers.”24 This implies especially in the case of the full time team members that they may
be workers recognised by the labour code of the United States and remunerated accordingly.
This remuneration gives them a certain status and responsibility. These and other experiences
could inspire us as we endeavour to give our PPFT a befitting status and a corresponding
responsibility.
3. Make a clear work Calendar:
There is a saying that “failure to plan is planning to fail”, therefore it is very important
for the PPFT to plan their programme at the beginning of each year. Mindful that the Pastoral
and liturgical programme of the church at any higher level takes precedence over a similar
programme at the lower level, it is important that PPFT programme should be drawn in
consultation with the Parish Programme, the Deanery programme and the Diocesan pastoral
and liturgical programme. The PPFT programme at the parish level shall include:
PPFT monthly planning and evaluation meetings,
PPFT monthly meetings,
Training Seminars for PPFT on-going formation,
Parish seminars for various categories of Christians and leaders,
Participation at the PPC meetings to give reports and share their plans for approval,
Supervisory visits to SCCs and Mission stations, social and recreational events and
any other priority area.
This programme will be inserted into the Parish programme and published for all
parishioners to know and follow. This plan would help the parish and the team in particular to
be able to assess its progress. Without a plan we would not know whether we are succeeding
or not.
4. Make a financial Budget and ensure its proper implementation:
At the beginning of each year, it would be advisable for every PPFT to make a
proposed budget that would be presented to the Parish Pastoral Council through the Parish
finance committee for approval. This budget could cover transport cost; a bit of living
allowance that could enable them sustain themselves in case they are not able to sustain
themselves from their various jobs and should also include training material. Implementing
this budget properly would likely involve four parties: the PPFT members themselves, the

24
http://www.stfrancisdesalescatholic.org/role-and-function-of-the-parish-pastoral-
councils.html (consulted on the 4th of February 2017.)

18
finance committee, the Parish priest and the finance secretary or bursar. I see that each of
these four have a unique role to play. The PPFT members themselves must make the budget
on time and their request for money should also be made on time. Each parish finance office
has a schedule, such that if they come at odd hours, the office may not be able to serve them
and they may go away with the wrong impression. When a request has been made, the parish
finance secretary too ought to act on time to enable the PPFT members prepare themselves
for the upcoming activity. When the money has been disbursed the PPFT members on their
part would have to make a clear and transparent account showing what they received, what
they spent and the balance. Accountability would give them greater credibility. The Parish
Priest and the PPC could provide necessary supervision that will ensure that the budget is
properly implemented. The Finance committee of the parish could prepare and provide good
account records to be used by the PPFT. It would be helpful if this budgeting session also
gives a serious thought to the sources of income25 that would be required to meet the budgeted
expenses.
5. Accompaniment:
In the first part of this work we recorded or acknowledged very few spiritual activities
for these teams’ members. We are suggesting here that accompaniment be taken very
seriously. The accompanying priest or religious would be prepared through the seminar we
mentioned above and assisted to understand their role and play it well. To ensure that
accompaniment is not just in word, a written out document would have to be made by the
Diocesan Pastoral Formation team spelling out the duties of the accompanying priests or
religious. One of the duties of the accompanying priest or religious could be to draw up an
annual programme of spiritual and pastoral activities in consultation with the PPFT members.
The programme of the accompanying priests or religious could include outings with the PPFT
for field work, participation in parish seminars, organisation of recollections and retreats, one
to one meeting to know them at a more personal level and be better able to encourage them. It
is very important that accompaniment be effective because the PPFT, as explained above, are

25
There are already a number of sources of income in each of the parishes approved by the Archbishop’s House.
These include the Christian contribution card which requires that each salary earner should pay in 1% of his
annual income to the parish, male adult who does not earn a regular salary 2400frs (about 5euros) per year and
each female adult who does not earn a regular salary 1200frs (about 2euros) per year, youths 600 FRS (about a
euro) per year and children of primary school age 120frs. When this money is paid in, a card called the christian
contribution (cc) card is issued to each of them showing what each has paid in. In addition to this is the harvest
thanksgiving, Alms, Mass stipends and gifts. The harvest thanks giving comes up during the harvest season and
families take turns to offer parts of produce during Mass on Sunday as a sign of gratitude to God the bounteous
giver. If good mobilisation is done and Christians respond generously enough money could be raised to provide
for the essential needs of every parish.

19
serving Christ through the people. To be able to see their work as a service to God requires a
deep spiritual life that would be acquired through prayer, meditation and active and conscious
participation in the sacraments. The accompanying priest would help them do this.
6. Evaluation:
Through an evaluation exercise, the PPFT and the parish as a whole could be able to
assess the degree of success in achieving their defined objectives. An evaluation would help
the PPFT to pave a better way forward. They could make particular evaluations and general
evaluations. Particular evaluations could come after the execution of a particular programme
while the general evaluation would be when many activities are being evaluated. This could
come up at the end of the year or at the middle of the year. Their evaluation could consist of
two main parts: what we liked or found useful in the work of the PPFT and what needs to be
improved upon with regards to the work of the PPFT. This means that the whole community
could be involved in the evaluation exercise. The community could be given the opportunity
and facilities to evaluate the work of the PPFT and their own response. While the team itself
also evaluates the response of the people and the team’s own approach too. Especially when
there are some failures, the team should make every effort to see its own responsibility in the
failures.
7. On-going Formation:
Mindful that new techniques could be developed and new challenges crop up, it is
important for the PPFT members and their collaborators to get frequently updated. Through
their general evaluation they would be able to know in which area they need to update their
skills.
8. Prayer is the Key:
It is God’s work which is being done through the PPFT activities. This is why it is
unhealthy to concentrate on the work of God and forget the God of the work. Prayer is the
acknowledgement that God is always present with us, inspiring us, and assisting us especially
in times of difficulties. Prayer is also a way of acknowledging that it is God’s work we are
doing and he is actually the one working through us in spirit. We are fellow workers with
God.26 The prayer for the successful implementation of the Provincial Pastoral Plan which
was composed during the 15th Anniversary of the PPP would be found very useful here. The
suggestion for success of the teams work and for good leaders concerns the whole Christian
community of the parish.

26
1Corinthians 3 :9.

20
Conclusion:
Some of the suggestions made above may not apply to all PPFT members and all
collaborators of PPFT mindful that most of them find themselves at different levels. After the
celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Provincial pastoral plan whose main objective was
the evaluation of its implementation over the 15 years period, it was realised that very many
good things have been done and are still being done and many still need to be done. The same
can be said of the work of the PPFT. Some of the suggestions made above might have already
been tried out in your situation and were met with little or no success. What is important is not
just success but the efforts we are making in our various apostolates out of love for Christ.
Sometimes just re-examining the journey made so far, drawing useful lessons from our
experience and recommitting ourselves to the goals of our striving is very rewarding. There is
no situation so bleak that we could be left with nothing else to do and there is also no situation
where we can claim to have it all. The divine call of every member of Christ faithful is life
long and fulfilled on a daily basis. Committing the laity is not pitching them against the
ordained ministers but rather brightening the image of the Church as a family that is made up
of the laity and the clergy who are called to a spirit of collaboration in the Lord’s vineyard.
General Conclusion
This work is divided into three chapters. The first chapter deals with the background,
role and actual functioning of the parish pastoral formation teams. The experience of the St.
Mark’s parish on the most part is presented as an example of parish experiences in the
Archdiocese of Bamenda. With keen interest we have highlighted in this chapter the
challenges facing PPFTs. These challenges are the main motivation of the whole work.
Chapter two, deals with the vocation of the laity in the Church. Here we draw
inspiration mainly from the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The main point
underlined in this chapter is that committed PPFT members fulfil a unique vocation in the
Church.
In the third chapter we present eight suggestions that could contribute to the better
functioning of the PPFTs. These suggestions include: training seminars, stable status, work
calendar, budget, accompaniment, evaluation, on-going formation and prayer. Mindful that
some of the aspects suggested have been tried out in the past we laid emphasis on new
strategies in order to expect new and different results.
We end this work with a prayerful wish; that the ideas expressed herein may be
accessed by all pastoral agents in the field who need help and motivation. I also wish that

21
these reflections would serve as an encouragement for further reflection which could foster
integral growth, joy in service and commitment among pastoral agents.
The realisation of this work has been to me a learning exercise. I learned from my past
experiences, my professors and my fellow students especially those in the same “sous
groupe”27 with me.

27
This was a group of 5 students and their supervisor who have been meeting every Tuesday for an hour or two,
since Oct 2017 to listen to presentations of various aspects of our papers. Students took turns to present and
group members made constructive criticisms.

22
Bibliography

Bible

Alexander JONES (ed.), The Jerusalem Bible. Popular edition, Darton, Longman & Todd,
London, 1974.

Documents of the Magisterium

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium Solemnly promulgated by His Holiness
POPE Paul VI on November 21, 1964 online:
http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-
ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html (consulted on the 15th December 2016.)

Post-Synodal Apotolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici of His Holiness John Paul II on the
vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World, en ligne sur le site
du Vatican : http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-
ii_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici.html (consulted on the 13th of December 2016).

The Post-Synodal Apostolique Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa of the Holy Father John Paul II
to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons Men and Women religious and all the faithful on the
Church in Africa and its Evangelising Mission Towards the Year 2000 online:
http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-
ii_exh_14091995_ecclesia-in-africa.html (consulted on 14th of December 2016.)

FONTEM ESUA Cornelius, Among you as a father and brother and address presented by Most
Rev Cornelius F. Esua on the occasion of his induction as the new Archbishop of Bamenda,
Bamenda, 2006, (unpub. work).

ATEH Joseph, NJONGAI Njongai et TATAH Cyprian, Bamenda Ecclesiastical Province


Pastoral Plan. Towards the Implementation of Ecclesia in Africa, Bamenda, ARISE, 2009.

Books

ZECH E. Charles (éd.), A practical guide for Pastors, administrators and other parish
leaders,Twenty-Third Publications, Willow street, 2003.

Articles

BANGSI Anthony, Handing over notes, Baba I, 2016, (unpub.work).

BITOLE Kato Joseph, Awakening the laity. Ugandan pastoral approach (Spearhead, 161-163),
Eldoret, AMECEA Gaba Publications, 2013.

23
Isabelle MOREL, La responsabilité d’accompagnement dans Lumen Vitae, 3 (2013), p.327-
337.

Lorraine STE-MARIE et Flavie BEAUDET, Une formation intégrale pour les agents
pastoraux. Strategies preventives au burn-out, dans Lumen Vitae, 3 (2013), p.315-326.

LUSHOMBO Léocadie, The contribution of Jacques Maritain on political participation of


christians in the temporal world dans TELEMA, 146 (Janvier-Juin 2016), p. 2-22.

NWAIBO Ferdinand, The role of the laity in enhancing Christian education in Africa, in
African Ecclesial Review, 55 (2013), p. 3-128

Internet Sites

http://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/evangelisation-teams/ (consulted on the 4th of February


2017.)

http://www.stfrancisdesalescatholic.org/role-and-function-of-the-parish-pastoral-
councils.html (consulted on the 4th of February 2017.)

24
APENDIX

PPFT with the Auxiliary Bishop in 2013 during the Pastoral Week.

Page of the Provincial Pastoral Plan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Bamenda showing the
Pastoral structures of Evangelisation promoted by the PPFTs.

25
PARISH PRIEST

PPFT COORDINATOR

A Formation Session in St. Mark’s Parish Baba I facilitated by its Parish Pastoral Formation
Team.

Members of my sub group: (from left to right) Salvator ( religious from Burudi), Marie Jean (
religious from Burudi), Guy-Pacifique ( diocesan priest from Congo Brazaville), Bernard
(Professor, Supervisor, diocesan priest from Belgium), Anthony ( diocesan priest from
Cameroon), Etienne ( religious from Tchad)

26