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PEP: Part 6 – Special groups and activities and explanatory endnote

Romany culture is to be studied for use in evangelisation. (6.2.3 b) Both soldiers and their families are to be evangelised. So, too, are the deaf, blind and mentally retarded. Addicts are presently evangelised by way of Alcoholic Anonymous, but the aim is to have priests installed in treatment centres, as chaplains are at prisons. Slovaks living abroad are to be evangelised by priests making the "strategic" (6.8.3.d) offer of help in dealing with officialdom.



 Pastorisation and Evangelisation Plan
 of the Catholic Church in Slovakia,

Pastoračný a evanjelizačný plán Katolíckej cirkvi na Slovensku (2001-2006)

By the Slovak Bishops Conference, 10 May 2001.
Translation and notes by Prof. em. Alexander Rehák 


Part six
6. Special groups and activities

6.1. National minorities

6.1.1. The situation

A)  Minorities on our territory that are ministered to by the Catholic Church are principally the Hungarians, Ruthenian and Ukrainians. To a lesser extent the Germans, Polish and Czechs.

B)  Members of national minorities feel varying degrees of closeness to the churches of their native nations. While this is very strong with the Hungarians, with the others it has rather an emotional nature, even with the Ruthenian it lacks any other national link. This phenomenon (links to another Church within another State) is not essentially negative. It is supported often by residence close to the frontiers, frequent family relations, visiting priests, students of theology, literature, press and broadcast and TV in their maternal language. The language spoken within the family itself is usually the minority language, but it can also be Slovakian.

C)  In general, the Church in Slovakia doesn’t feel any tensions between members of different nationalities. It is true that in some of them, especially in the larger ones there are some pressure groups which attempt to misuse the Church for nationalist aims and thus instances of intolerance and tension may appear.

D)  The believers usually want the pastorisation service conducted in their language. But the problem there is a shortage of priestly vocation from these regions. Therefore the believers accept also Slovak priests. To be sure, they are very thankful if he later tries to speak their language.

6.1.2 The aims

Regardless of whether these parishes are temporarily led by Slovak priests, or whether the pastorisation is gradually provided by priests of our national minorities, it is necessary in the pastorisation to emphasise the spirit of the Gospel and the priestly vocation to be a servant for all. They have to present the Christ’s teaching as a platform of the true national consciousness, which acknowledges the dignity of every man, because HE can demolish every wall of separation. There are no more Jews, Greeks, nor slaves or free humans, nor man or woman, but just new creatures in the name of Christ.

6.1.3. Recommendations

a)  In the seminaries to pay attention to this problem while forming the candidates for priesthood. To take seriously the responsibility for noting any manifestations of an open or covert nationalism or jingoism. The same applies to priests and employees of Church institutions (educational, charity, mass communication facilities and similar).

b)  To make contacts with seminaries in other countries, where the spirit of evangelisation, mutual friendship, and of the future priestly brotherhood is being fostered;

c)  To develop programmes for supporting the priestly vocation from the regions of the national minorities;

d)  To issue pastoral letters to this end;

e)  To nominate bishops’ vicars who would deal with this problematic in the dioceses.

6.2. The Romany

6.2.1. The situation

A)  John Paul II said that the peace that human beings so much crave for is a present of God and a fruit of truth and justice. We are confident thus, that the reconstruction of the society with such intentions is not possible without honouring these values on all levels. It means, in fact, to go to the poor, derelict and to those who are on the margin – to the Romany. 

B)  We find currently the young Romany missing any buttresses for their life orientation. Therefore, they become victims to various challenges. They don’t feel any sense of purpose in their life, nor in being socially and personally engaged. The educational influence of the family, school and Church are diminished, which is reflected in their basic scope of knowledge, both general and religious. They lack deeper personal relations, and the awareness of their own values. Typical for them is their easy vulnerability. The young are not sufficiently prepared, mentally or materially, for founding a family. The religious manifestations of the Romany are for the majority citizens not quite comprehensible. The Church has succeeded only in exceptional cases in penetrating this environment with any attractiveness or with an effective evangelisation.

6.2.2. The aims

The aim is to reveal Jesus Christ, his deep understanding, concern for human beings, and his concern for everything human. Along with that, to bring them the Kingdom of God, which means to become for the Romany an intelligible sign and bearer of the God’s love for them. With systematic and enduring work. With stress on the ideals to help them to gain responsibility, to become aware of their own dignity in front of God and thus to eliminate gradually the existing tensions not only on the surface, but also in depth. All that is possible in a parish which has opened itself to the Romany and creates an atmosphere that they willingly enter.

6.2.3. Recommendations

a)  To deepen the co-operation between the Commission for the Pastorisation of the Romany and the local priests, who implement the pastorisation plans;

b)  To get to know the values of the Romany culture with the intention of making use of them for evangelisation. If a parish is to become and exist as a living and growing body, all its members have to learn how to share their working duties, resources and strengths, but also their enjoyments and problems;

c)  With a preventive system [“sic” in original] to underline the basic human values: reverence for others, trusting in others, care, openness, readiness to listen, fraternity, solidarity;

d)  To launch Pastorisation Centres located in the environment of the Romany; these will organise pilgrimages for the Romany, biblical competitions, they will prepare catechetical materials, and will serve as models of how to work with them;

e)  To build up the parish community as an animation [Church activism] nucleus. This entails founding and vitalising local groups of laity in particular parishes, so that the Romany settlement becomes a missionary station [“sic” in the original] for individual parishes;

f)  To increase the catechetic qualification of priests in pastorisation and in management by acquiring more knowledge of the Romany culture and taking it into consideration;

g)  In parishes with high numbers of Romany to devise a project of personal development with provisions for formative preparation.

6.3. Armed forces – army, police

6.3.1. The situation

A)  Renewal and development of Spiritual and Religious Services in the branches of the Defence Ministry were approved by governmental decree of the Slovak Republic No. 1014 dated 29 September 1994. The Spiritual and Religious Service (further: SRS) is a component of the care of mankind in general.

B)  To achieve the necessary aims, institutionalised means in the army have been approved, such as the Office of Military Pastors at the Defence Ministry, which is the main planning, regulatory and executive body of the SRS. Apart from this a military deanship was set up at the staff in command of the Slovak Republic’s army.

C)  The executor authorised executor of the above tasks is the military priest on the particular levels and schools of army. Each of these institutions contributes, within the framework of its powers, to the following actions:
– contributes to deepening of the moral and patriotic mind of the soldiers;
– renews the military and religious traditions and habits in the army;
– provides for co-operation with pastors of other armies and their military organisations;
– takes the necessary steps for publication activities and counselling;
– co-operates with religious, cultural and other institutions to bring the army closer to the public;
– co-ordinates the co-operation with the medical and psychological services.

D)  The military pastor uses the methods of a religious approach to humans:
– divine services for members of the army according their faith;
– lectures, consultations and counselling;
– pastorisation care of families of professional members of the military;
– he finds out the causes of tensions, personal crises, and helps to solve them and to prevent them.

6.3.2. The aims

The main pastorisation aims of the SRS in the army are directed towards developing the spiritual life and faith of the soldiers. Its main task is to satisfy the spiritual needs of the soldiers, by means of priestly and lay service, and thus to create a balance between conscience and the nature of the martial tasks to be fulfilled during fighting;
– at least once in a week and on holy days by performing divine service in the military chapels;
– by preparations for receiving  the sacraments: baptism, confirmation, communion…;
– by catechesis , preparing for marriage and parenthood;
– by spiritual counselling – individual help in conversion.

6.3.3. Recommendations

a)  To fill the allotted positions in the army with priests;

b)  To establish a Military Ordinariat for the Armed Forces;

c)  To organise national and international military pilgrimages;

d)  To renew and to develop the religious and military traditions and habits in the army (public divine services, celebrations of consecration, blessing of military symbols and the like);

e)  Recollections [“rekolekcia”: group meetings for deliberation about religious issues] for married couples, educational tasks;

f)  Similar concept of the spiritual care to be developed also in the Units of the Interior Ministry (the police).

6.4. Pastorisation of handicapped

6.4.1. The situation

A)  Except for the Council of the Family of the Immaculate Lady, up to 1990 one cannot speak about a systematic pastorisation. This was done individually and due to the ardour of some priests and laymen. After 1990 the Christian Centre of People Hard of Hearing was created, then the Archa, the Samaritan Association, Faith and Life, and others. All these institutions offer spiritual, mental, ethical and bodily help. They are focussed on the following points:
– administering the sacraments;
– discussions, conversations about God, the faith, but also about other issues of interest
– spiritual exercises and renewal, courses, schooling;
– sports events, camps, excursions;
– substitute family ambience, and Christian education of children in Institutions;
– courses in sign language (for the hearing-impaired, and for the interpreters);
– partnership contacts between similar organisations of handicapped in this country and in the foreign countries.

B)  Methods which should be respected in this are as follows:
 – to establish good contact with those affected (through becoming one of them) [“sic” in original]
– to come to understand their way of thinking and to build up a relation on the basis identifying oneself with their problems
– to involve the handicapped in the celebration of the divine services.

6.4.2 The aims

To help the handicapped find their place in life and its meaning. To link Christian values with the daily life of those affected, using varied approaches for this.

6.4.3. Recommendations

a)  To build a catechesis and develop methods for teaching the handicapped;

b)  To make provision for self-sufficient communities, where the priest would fulfil only a service of counsellor, co-ordinator and grantor of the sacraments;

c)  To prepare catechists from the ranks of the affected;

d)  To secure aids, especially catechisms;

e)  To standardise the sign language serving for expressions [used] in the Holy Mass and the sacraments;

f)  To create employment opportunities for the handicapped;

g)  To publish a magazine for the affected, which would bring information about the associations of handicapped in particular towns;

h)  To publish books for the handicapped and their helpers, video programmes in sign language, simple programmes for the mentally retarded;

i)  The same with audio programmes for the blind.

6.5. Pastorisation of the addicts

6.5.1. The situation

A)  In the countries of Western Europe pastorisation of the addicts is done in sanatoria, where a priest, who lives there, takes care of their pastorisation. Another form consists of communities of anonymous addicts, which arise at psychiatric departments as independent units.

B)  In Slovakia for the time being, an independent pastorisation of addicts dependent on alcohol, gambling automats, computers and drugs has begun operation. Most advanced is the programme of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which is based on the principle of group therapy, exchange of experience, personal witnessing, but also of prayers, conversation with the priest, taking the sacrament, atonement, helps these people to attain the confidence of being accepted by God for themselves and for others. [1]

6.5.2. Recommendations

a)  To support founding such units in regions where a psychiatric hospital or department operates;

b)  To assign a priest for their spiritual care;

c)  To encourage the addicts in their decision to take treatment.

6.6. Pastorisation of prisoners

6.6.1 The situation

A)  Based on the Gospel’s principle: “I was imprisoned when you came to me” the pastoral service in nearly all prisons of the Slovak Republic was successfully renewed in 1990. Literature and video films supply the libraries there with religious thematic materials. In most of these units there is a room for performing the divine service.

B)  The basic means and method is the priestly service, which is marked by the following traits. He endeavours to approach the prisoners as far as the prison regulations allow, in order to reveal them the mercy of Jesus Christ and the value of their lives
– Holy Masses and sacraments follow after an appropriate catechisation;
– A specific means is the sacrament of the atonement;
– Suitable means are also the media (books, press, films, tape recordings);
– A general method is prevention in the media, at schools;
– An important element is the post-penitentiary [“sic” in original] care of people who have served their terms at correctional centres.

6.6.2. The aims

The main aim of the pastoral service in prisons is not only evangelisation, but also humanitarian in nature. It means: – to announce the good news about God’s forgiveness for a person in a difficult situation of his life; – to celebrate divine services and other religious ceremonies; – to undertake catechisation for acceptance of sacraments; – to organise a counselling service; – to help with the re-integration into society after they had served the term of sentence.

6.6.3. Recommendations

a)  In organising the pastoral service in prisons: within the framework of the dioceses to provide a co-ordinator of religious activities for this service. In the framework of the Church Province to found a Commission for the priests serving in prisons and to organise regular meetings with them and with their supporting staff.

b)  Personal arrangements: For each prison to secure a suitable priest by the decree of local Bishop and to stabilise him in this position for at least 3-5 years (in case of monks, exemption to be granted by their superiors). At the selection to take care of personal capacities and professional preparedness. In future, after a special training, to create a group of chaplains for prisons.

c)  The theoretical preparation: To arrange further studies for the chaplains operating in prisons and their lay aids. At the Theological Faculties to provide lectures about the service in prisons and about pastorising former prisoners. To organise excursions of theology students to prisons and for those who show interest, to facilitate some catechesis and cultural programmes;

d)  Care of the personnel employed in prisons: spiritual restoration for married couples and the family members of the prison guards, summer camps for children and similar. On a voluntary basis:

e)  Post-penitentiary Centres: To found such Centres for former convicts and to appoint to these specially prepared priests.

6.7. Pastorisation of pilgrims and migrants.

6.7.1. The situation

A)  Pilgrimage is a favoured religious manifestation. Wayfaring is namely an expression of the existential dimension of human religious trends. We are wanderers on this earth, but as believers we have a concrete goal in front of us – the heavenly homeland.

B)  Besides, we witness shifts of some people, caused by emigration and tourism, which begin to become anonymous and endangered by pressures of the external environment, without any spiritual ideals.

C)  Pastorisation of pilgrims is one of the signs, by which the Church gives the answer to the aimless migration of the man of today, inspired often only by economic gain.

6.7.2. The aims

A specific aim of the pastorisation activity is to mediate with the believers’ religious experience which would lead to an inner spiritual restoration.

6.7.3. Recommendations

a)  To appoint a commission for pilgrimage pastorisation in each diocese;

b)  To inspire the believers in the deanships and in the parishes, to make pilgrimages;

c)  To co-ordinate pilgrimages with a travel agency which would specialise in this;

d)  Under the leadership of the priest to create conditions for group travel to pilgrimage places.

6.8. Pastorisation of the Slovaks living abroad

6.8.1. The situation

A)  The first waves of emigration of Slovaks have formed settlements abroad and regions with common schools, churches and stores. After World War II these communities began to dissolve and the further generations in the new land started to dissipate looking for work Due to this fact they became assimilated and lost gradually their language and the Slovak conscience. This phenomenon was accelerated by usage of the local national languages at divine services after the Second Vatican Council. Only a vague awareness of their parents’ or grandparents’ origin remained. Due to this at many places the ethnic churches were closed. It applies especially to Canada and the USA.

B)  In Canada small Slovakian enclaves in Mississauga remained (Toronto), Windsor, Montreal, New Westminster (Vancouver). In Sydney (Australia) there is a Slovak parsonage and church. Thanks to this the community in Australia is the strongest. In Adelaide the community is breaking down, because the priest comes there only occasionally and they have to hire the church on such occasions. Similar is the situation in Melbourne.

C)  The situation in Europe looks different: many individuals have left their country due to the war, social and economic crisis and globalisation, looking for new chances of survival. That migration is a part of the development in the European society and its members in the framework of integration into a single European structure. This fact offers new chances for an effective pastorisation, especially in the German-speaking countries, which offer most of the job opportunities.

D)  Until now the pastorisation of Slovaks in Europe evolved along the line of missions. The most important of them are in Paris, Zurich, Munich, Essen, Frankfurt and Vienna. But the Slovak believers, although they pay in each particular country taxes, remain without pastoral care. The former model of Slovak Missions in the recent past had its positive traits and was fulfilling its aims. These days the missionaries are mostly retiring.

E)  Many people live in Europe illegally. They have no permission to stay. They live in permanent fear of officials and police. They trust mostly only the Church. The parishes and the mission stations become their only haven in need. The church has to solve this problem in addition to its pastorisation and charity activity with great sensitivity especially on the political level and to procure legalising of the stay. Every human being – including those working and residing illegally – has the right to pastoral care.

6.8.2. The aims

Apart from the evangelisation, catechesis and growth in the faith, to preserve the love for the homeland and to renew their national consciousness.

Integration doesn’t mean assimilation, quite the opposite, it means a mutual respect and preserving mutual identity. It helps to get closer to one another and to a mutual enrichment. The integration can become a success if both parties know what they expect from the other one. It gives opportunity to celebrate in common the cultural and religious holidays.

6.8.3. Recommendations

a)  The basic method of pastorisation – where the Bishop has some understanding for the foreign ethnic group – is to assign a priest pursuant to CIC 1983, kán 271. The experience confirms that the church keeps the language. Therefore an effective pastorisation activity will happen only at places where the divine service is performed in the Slovak language and the believers pray and sing in it;

b)  For the North America (USA and Canada), where the Slovak churches are hard to maintain, to attempt introducing missionary stations. This concerns especially places where the bishop still supports the ethnic minorities (e.g. Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Detroit).

c)  The new model for the German-speaking countries is based on the prerequisite that a priest from Slovakia has to take responsibility, not only for the believers of his nationality, but to offer services to that German parish which is ready to release the premises needed for meetings in the foreign environment and help with the integration.

d)  The strategic spheres where one seeks help from the Church are the legal status of individuals in a foreign country, permission to stay, the working conditions, recognition of qualifications, chance to undertake studies, conditions of residence. Besides, women deserve the highest attention as they suffer most as refugees or war emigrants. Trafficking with women is a more serious problem than drug trafficking.




This cathedral was built by a Slovak emigrant north of Toronto. Its domes identify it as  a "Greek Catholic", church which acknowledges the pope, but follows the the liturgy of the Orthodox Church. The Slovak bishops acknowledge that migrants tend to fall away from the Slovak churches. (6.8.1A) With assimilation comes secularisation: leaving home can mean leaving behind the social pressure to attend church. To try to at least hold the first-generation immigrants, the Church provides a range of social services.





Since the changes in society of 1989 until now the Church in Slovakia has focussed its attention on renewing a regular functioning of Church structures, restitution of real estate, development or reconstruction of churches and other sacral buildings. After ten years we are aware, that it is necessary to give the highest priority to “investments for formative, evangelisation and pastorisation projects”. This end should be served by this Pastorisation and Evangelisation Plan of the Catholic Church in Slovakia. Unless this document remains just a theory, it is necessary to use it as starting material for a synod process in the dioceses. Follow-ups of its implementation can be done by a working team in each diocese. Implementation of related pastorisation and evangelisation tasks is conditioned by the presidium and co-ordination of the diocesan bishop This plan will have its importance, if one will place emphasis on issues of key importance for the future, such as the formation and permanent renewal of the spiritual life of priests, as well as of the engaged laity, catechesis of adults, pastorisation of the young and families – all that centred on building up a parish community and a new evangelisation.

Along with the fulfilment of this pastorisation plan it is necessary to initiate knowledgeable studies of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in order to assess in the commissions of the Bishops Conference, dioceses and parishes, to what extent the rulings of the Council have been fulfilled (cf. NMI 57). For improving the mutual information and co-operation, yearly meetings of responsible representatives of these commissions and councils of the Bishops Conference should take place.

Our desire is that this pastorisation plan help the political and social deaconry of believers, to make the presentation in the media and the public life a strong part of Slovak Catholicism. It is possible that some groups of citizens will have objections against this pastorisation plan, but we are ready to lead an open dialogue with the members of associations which take controversial positions. This activity will bring a great benefit, if the points of this plan are included in the programmes of the spiritual revival, theological days and recollections [rekolekcia: group meetings for deliberation about religious issues]. Therefore we recommend praying persistently for it. We commit this Pastorisation and Evangelisation Plan to the protection of the Virgin Mary and Saints Cyril and Methodius and of the martyrs of Košice with the sincere intention, that it is perused by many for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God and implementing the spiritual revival of the Slovak nation.

Dated in Bratislava on May 10, 2001.

Mons. František Tondra, diocesan Bishop of Spiš, chairman of KBS
J. E. kard. Ján Chryzostom Korec, diocesan Bishop of Nitra
Mons. Ján Sokol, Archbishop, metropolitan of Bratislava-Trnava
Mons. Alojz Tkáč, Archbishop of Košice - metropolitan
Mons. Rudolf Baláž, diocesan Bishop of Banská Bystrica
Mons. Eduard Kojnok, diocesan Bishop of Rožňav
Mons. Ján Hirka, diocesan Bishop of Prešov
Mons. Milan Chautur, exarches of Košice
Mons. Vladimír Filo, auxiliary Bishop of Bratislava –Trnava
Mons. Dominik Tóth, auxiliary Bishop of Bratislava –Trnava
Mons. František Rábek, auxiliary Bishop of Nitra
Mons. Bernard Bober, auxiliary Bishop of Košice
Mons. Andrej Imrich, auxiliary Bishop of Spiš
Mons. Tomáš Galis, auxiliary Bishop of Banská Bystrica
Mons. Marián Chovanec, auxiliary Bishop of Nitra

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

In the period before the Second Vatican Council the expression for priestly service was the notion “pastorisation” (from Latin word pastor = shepherd) Later the notion “evangelisation” turned up in accordance with the apostolic exhortation of John Paul II: Evangelii Nunciandi (1975). The fact that somebody acts in Africa is evangelisation. But the fact that baptised children are catechised is also evangelisation, when a priest makes the divine service, when he goes to an ailing man as well as preparation for the sacraments – all that is evangelisation activity. The core of the issue is spreading the Gospel.  In this context one can speak about the first evangelisation and about the re-evangelisation. Therefore the priestly pastorisation is these days evangelisation. In the evangelisation not only clerics, but also laymen participate. But evangelisation (as an apostolate of laymen) is not pastorisation. The term of “pastorisation” is to be used only in relation to clerics. If the matter concerns an apostolate performed by believers who are not ordained, namely by laymen, it is more suitable to use the term evangelisation. In some cases of pastorisation duties laymen can be invited, but they don’t do it on their own behalf, just on the basis of invitation to a co-operation (cf. instructions Ecclesiae de Mysterio, 1997). In other words: the entire people of God participate in evangelisation, at which the priestly service is pastorisation. In Slovakia the terminology of some forms of associating the laity is not stabilised. In accordance with CIC it is suitable to use the term of association, which means any form of association of believers. In the framework of associations one is to discern a) Church movements and new communities (in short: movements), their primary aim is to provide for their members especially spiritual formation in the sense of their own spirituality, b) Christian organisations and institutions (in short: institutions). Their aim is implementing the Gospel in the sphere of daily life.


Footnote for Part 6


By the translator, Dr. Alexander Rehák

[1] Cf. Sloan, R. P., Bagiella, E., VandeCreek, L., Hover, M., Casalone, C., Jinpu Hirsch, T., et al. (2000). “Should physicians prescribe religious activities?” New England Journal of Medicine, 342(25), 1913-1916.


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