SPECIAL GUIDELINES FOR THE DIOCESAN PRIESTS OF THE DIOCESE OF BARUIPUR
A. The necessity of constantly bringing to mind and heart or clarifying to oneself the identity and role of a priest cannot be over-emphasized. The words of the Holy Father John Paul II (on June 9, 1992) clearly bring out different aspects of priestly life. He said:
“You priests who have been anointed in order to be another Christ in the presence of man, are first of all men of God, called to testify to God's presence in the midst or believers …”
• One identity and one role! Personal holiness is a must. There cannot be a distinction between 'personal life' and 'functional life'. A priest has to be 'priestly' even on a vacation or holiday!
• Pastoral chastity faces the danger today especially of being emptied of its meaning through so-called 'functionalism'. It is not rate in fact to perceive even in some priests, the influence of an erroneous mentality, which reduces the ministerial priesthood to strictly functional aspects. To merely play the role of the priest, carrying out a few services and ensuring the completion of various tasks would make up the entire priestly existence. Such a reductive conception of the identity of the priest risks pushing their lives toward an emptiness, an emptiness which often comes to be filled by lifestyles not consonant with their very ministry” (The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priest, no. 44).
• “Second you are men of the Church. She has accepted you, formed you, ordained you and sent you in God's name to be the saving presence of Jesus Christ, whose ministries you are, in the midst of the people …”
• The Priest's fundamental union-communion with Christ and the Trinity is the basis of his relation with the Church. The hierarchical structure is willed by its Divine Founder. It is His Body. He is its Head. “The can be no genuine priestly ministry except in communion with the Supreme Pontiff and the Episcopal College, especially with one's own diocesan bishop, who receives that filial respect and obedience promised during rite of ordination” (cf. no. 21)
• “Last of all, you are community men. Like the good shepherd who gives his life for his sheep, you do not belong to yourselves, but to the people to whom you are sent …”
• “The ministerial activity must be a manifestation of the charity of Christ. With this charity the priest will demonstrate in his bearing and conduct the total self-giving of himself to the flock with which he has been entrusted ….” (The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests).
• Keeping this identity and role of the priest in view and in the light of Canon Law, I am, now giving the following guidelines for the Diocesan Clergy of Baruipur.
1. Every part of the Diocese is to be considered an area of service and every priest should be ready for a posting in any mission of the Diocese, according to the needs of the moment.
2. Given the missionary character of the Diocese, emergent needs may arise either for the sake of expansion or for other reasons. Availability for ministry are ready response to the needs of the moment are important dimensions of the spirituality of the diocesan priest of Baruipur.
3. Transfers are made in consultation with the Consultors, who act as the Personal Board. The final decision is taken by the bishop after taking into consideration the proposals of the board of Consultors.
4. While personal charism and limitations are given due weight at the time of appointment, it often happens that in a given situation there are no immediate personnel available and the needs of the mission take precedence over personal traits and desires. At such times the transfers should be accepted in a spirit of faith and with generosity relying on God who always supplies for our weaknesses and inadequacies when we act in faith. Hence when a transfer is done, the appointment should be considered as an occasion for service and ministry, and not as a part or position.
5. In the missionary situation of the Diocese, it is difficult to stick to definite tenures of service, although a serious effort will be made in that direction. This allows for availability and quick response to the challenges that emerge in ministry or to tidy over a difficult situation. It also allows for relief to persons when needed.
6. Again due to the missionary nature of the Diocese, the norms for appointment of parish priests (Can. 521 524) are not followed. Suitable tests as requested by Can. 523/3 are not administered before appointments are made. Often young priests with very little experience are given responsibilities of a grave nature. It is normal for them to get an appointment as an assistant even if they have been priests in charge.
7. There should also be a general and conscious acceptance that the need of the mission are the paramount consideration in effecting transfers and postings. There are enough able priests but all are not available. Often less able priests achieve more in God', plan because of the strength they receive from God as a fruit of their availability.
C. Fellowship Among Priests
1. Priests need priests. Strong bonds of friendship between priests of the presbyterium are encouraged. They should avoid exclusiveness and should preferably be among priests working in the same area. Hence area wise meetings are especially helpful where they share their hopes and disappointments and obtain peer advice, assistance and understanding.
2. At meeting of priests, the festivities should be moderate and sensitive to the local communities. Celebration of birthdays and feast days should also be regulated and confined to small parties of close friends and associates. In the name of fellowship among priests there should not be any ostentatious and expensive celebrations that hurt the image of our commitment and sacrifice in the priesthood.
D. Holidays & Absences from the Parish / Place of Ministry
1. Absence from parish/place of ministry for a vacation can only be for one month, continuous or otherwise. No accumulation is henceforth allowed except after 5 years and then only for 3 months. When the holidays are taken a substitute is to be arranged by the person concerned and the bishop is to be informed at least 10 days before going for holidays. Because of the holidays of the priests the religious and the faithful should not suffer in the parish.
2. Absence for personal reasons should not be considered as part of the vacation period. Hence the Bishop has to be informed about them. A habitual absence of one or two days a week should be completely avoided.
3. Vacations and absence take away the availability of the priest, and when they occur too frequently they diminish the pastoral effectiveness of his ministry.
4. Information is to be given to the bishop regarding absences due to pilgrimages with the faithful. Anyone going outside the diocese (except Calcutta city for official works) even for work viz. meetings, seminars, singing of Kirtans etc. must get permission from the bishop.
5. All priests should avoid absence during the periods of Lent, Advent and Christmas; and those in school ministry should avoid taking their vacations during the school time.