University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Building the Ecclesial Community

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Fundamental and Dogmatic Theology, including Ecumenism

DESCRIPTION Learning Objectives

After following this study unit, students should be able:
1. to grasp the New Testament foundations for any theological and pastoral attempts at building the Christian community;
2. to understand the way in which the Church has sought to organise itself in the course of its history in the hope of becoming the sacrament of God's love to mankind, adapting secular forms of organisation and developing alternative structures;
3. to assess present day Church structures and forms of Church leadership in the light of an ecclesiology of communion and of the Church "as family";
4. to introduce new ways of collaborative ministry;
5. to investigate the learning potential of small groups, the microcosm of community, and to learn how to use group phenomena to engender a sense of community.

Course Description

Any Christian community, the New Testament shows, cannot but be built on the Trinitarian communion: it is within this Source that it is to have its beginning and its raison d'être. A good grounding of the Trinitarian Communion is presented in the Prologue and chapters 13-17 (the Priestly Discourse) of John's Gospel. The consequences of John 19,25-27 are studied: the Beloved Disciple receives the Mother of Jesus as the "generator" of the values of the Trinitarian Communion.

The significance of the term koinonia (communio) is introduced while highlighting the meaning of the nous ecclésial. The weaving of bonds and the reaching out to nominal Christians is studied. A number of values and other features useful in the building, strengthening and healing of the community are presented. Small Christian Communities are evaluated. Diocesan Pastoral Synods as an expression of communion are studied, special reference being made to the pastoral framework of the Diocesan Synod document on A Vision of the Church as Communion (2003).

Another contribution to the study unit entails an examination of how the family, composed of husband and wife and possibly of children, is a model for the Church and society at large. The family is truly the smallest living cell of the Church and of society. It has all the ecclesial and social elements embedded in its inner principles.

The unit also focuses on the structures of pastoral participation on the diocesan and parish level, as set down in universal and particular law. The Church's hierarchic constitution is addressed, principally in terms of those whose ministry it is to assure unity in communion.

True community is to be understood as possible when individuals are encouraged to experience their separateness from others as well as their fundamental interconnectedness. This comes about through choiceful contact with others in the spirit of authentic responsibility which takes self and other into account.


- AA.VV., Chiesa particolare e strutture di comunione, Collana Il Codice del Vaticano II, diretto da A. Longhitano, Bologna 1985.
- AR`IDJO`ESI TA' MALTA, Dokument tas-Sinodu Djo`esan Vi\joni ta' Knisja Komunjoni, Malta 2003.
- ARRIETA, J., Governance Structures within the Catholic Church, Gratianus Series, Canada 2000.
- CALLEJA {U\EPP, "Il-Knisja ta' Kristu kif tidher fil-Van[eli u fil-Ktieb ta' l-Atti ta' l-Appostli", in Knisja 2000 13/52 (2000) 29-51.
- CONFERENZA EPISCOPALE ITALIANA, Direttorio di Pastorale Famigliare, Roma 1993.
- DIANICH, S., "La comunione", in Ecclesiologia, Cinisello Balsamo 1993, 114-142; "La comunità", in ibid., 174-200.
- DUNN, J.D.G., Unity and Diversity in the New Testament. An Enquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity, Philadelphia 1977.
- GARCIA DE HARO, R., Marriage and the Family in the Documents of the Magisterium, San Francisco 1993.
- GRUPPO ITALIANO DOCENTI DI DIRITTO CANONICO, Il Diritto nel Mistero della Chiesa, II. Chiesa particolare e universale, Roma 1990, 329-591.
- HANSON, P.D., "Community (Old Testament)", in Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. D.N. Freedman, I, New York 1999, 1099-1103
- JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 1981, Letter to Families Gratissimam Sane, 1994
- LEAHY, B., "A Theology of Community Revisited", in Ecclesia Tertii Millennii Advenientis, Fs. A.Antón, ed. F.Chica - S.Panizzolo - H.Wagner, Casale Monferrato 1997, 207-216.
- WALL, R.W., "Community (New Testament)", in Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. D.N. Freedman, I, New York 1999, 1103-1110.
- ZERAFA, P.P., "Il-Knisja fit-Testment il-Qadim", in Knisja 2000 13/52 (2000) 5-27.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation Yes 25%
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 75%

Hector Scerri
Kevin Schembri
Paul Sciberras

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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