CO-ORDINATION OF THE PRAYER GROUPS
Art. 13 – Where there are a number of Prayer Groups in a Diocese, the Bishop can appoint a Priest to co-ordinate the activities of the various Groups. In this way the Groups in each diocese form part of the pastoral plan, so as to serve the needs of the Apostolate, under the direction and guidance of the Bishop.
Several (Arch) Dioceses) have more than one or two Prayer Groups established in their territory. The appointment of (Arch) Diocesan co-ordinators for the Groups in a given religious territory is still something that must be worked out. Better understanding of the Groups in general, how they are organized, what goals do they have, how they seek to achieve them, what benefit to the local church at large, and other questions must be clearly presented and clearly lived out by the membership in a manner that shows its positive impact in the local church, before the optimum can be expected.
The hoped for projection is that eventually the Prayer Groups will be under the spiritual guidance of the local ordinary who appoints a priest to co-ordinate the Groups through the priest Spiritual Directors of each Group.
The Diocesan Co-ordinator, nominated by the Bishop, may be assisted by a diocesan Council composed of five or six Councillors. They are nominated by the Bishop as designated by the Diocesan Co-ordinator. These Councillors are chosen from among the Spiritual Directors and Group Leaders of the Prayer Groups existing in the Diocese.
This bureaucratic plan follows the setup of the local Prayer Groups. It seems obvious that Councilors should be chosen from among members of the Prayer Groups in the (Arch) Diocese, since they are directly involved with the Association. However, the (Arch) Diocesan Co-ordinator need not be a priest who is Spiritual Director already of one of the Prayer Groups. The Co-ordinator can be any priest the local ordinary deems fit to serve in that position.
The Diocesan Priest Co-ordinator of the Prayer Groups shall maintain contact with the International Centre, or General Direction. He shall receive printed communications and literature from the Centre for all Padre Pio Prayer Groups in the Diocese.
The (Arch) Diocesan priest Co-ordinator is the liaison between the local ordinary and the Prayer Groups and between the Prayer Groups and the General Headquarters. It is he who receives the information, on an international level, regarding the Prayer Groups. He then will communicate the information he received and assist in way possible to help the Groups implement whatever is suggested or reflect upon what is proposed.
The International Centre can designate a Priest Co-ordinator as national or regional co-ordinator. He will then be presented to the National or Regional Episcopal Conference for the necessary approval.
Since (Arch) Diocesan Co-ordinators and Regional Priest Co-ordinators are not possible at present, a National Co-ordinator was appointed by the General Director.
The National Co-ordinator seeks to acquaint himself with the Association and the membership throughout the nation for whom he is Co-ordinator. His position is basically one of liaison between the nation and General Headquarters, and animator of the Groups on a more general scale. While each Group is autonomous, there are still basic guidelines (Statutes) and the spirit of Padre Pio that must be followed.
The National Co-ordinator is selected after having given a Resume` of his Life (Curriculum Vitae) to the National Conference of Bishops to review and approve. Once the approval is given, the General Director then appoints the priest as National Co-ordinator for all the Prayer Groups in the nation, with specific responsibilities. Some being to work at strengthening and increasing the Prayer Groups in the nation; to plan formation gatherings, retreats for membership and Spiritual Directors; to keep regular contact with Headquarters in San Giovanni Rotondo concerning the progress and/or difficulties the Prayer Groups as a whole or singularly may be encountering; to keep updated files on all the Groups. These are just to name a few.
The larger the nation, the more obvious the place of a national co-ordinator becomes, but never to take the place of the (Arch) Diocesan and Regional Co-ordinators.
Even this office is developing. There will be a clearer updated job description of the National Co-ordinator when the new Statutes are finally promulgated.