National Pastoral Planners Network

The NPPN Executive serves the National Pastoral Planners Network whose purpose is to promote and strengthen a culture of planning for mission and evangelisation within the Catholic Church in Oceania. We engage pastoral research and best practices in church growth to offer experience, knowledge, resources and processes that enable dioceses and parishes to advance the mission of Jesus Christ under the guidance of the Spirit.

News from the Archdiocese of Adelaide

Planning with Parish Pastoral Councils

3. Adelaide Cathedral

St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Adelaide

Pastoral planning happens at many levels and in various ways in the Archdiocese of Adelaide. At the local level, parish pastoral councils (PPCs) are encouraged to engage in future planning and often schedule formation days or workshops according to their needs. Our Archdiocese is frequently asked to assist in planning with such groups.

As liaison person for parish pastoral councils in the Archdiocese, it has been a privilege to have been invited into many parishes to work with them. The shape of our program is designed to fit the needs of a particular parish at any given time. The process usually begins with a conversation with the parish priest and pastoral council chairperson. The main aim of this conversation is to learn about the parish community and its vitality. Sometimes I am then invited to a pastoral council meeting which allows me to get to know some of the people prior to working with them. Together with the executive, we then plan for the council to have some significant time together in formation.

Prayer, hospitality, relationship building, and group work are components that are usually constants of any formation day we provide. The purpose of these days range from:

  • providing basic information on the workings of a parish pastoral council for new councils or when there has been a significant change in membership.
  • discovering the importance of being pastoral and knowing the community, using tools such as asset mapping and sharing the stories of the community
  • goal setting, future planning and evaluation
  • a combination of prayer and reflection, and addressing issues of conflict management
  • time spent with parishes as they have worked through periods of uncertainty, perhaps when there has been no resident priest available and the PPC and the community need
  • encouragement to move forward with support (this usually occurs after significant support has been first given by the Diocesan Leadership Team).

Many parishes already have wonderful people within their own parish pastoral council or parish community, such as Parish Leadership Teams, present and past principals and religious educators from schools, and people with rich experience in the corporate world. Such people are generous in sharing their skills as parishes work through processes of change.

This sharing of insight from our lay people reflects the call for a renewed imagination of Church, well expressed by Pope Benedict XVI, “Co-responsibility demands a change in mindset especially concerning the role of lay people in the Church. They should not be regarded as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting. It is therefore important that a mature and committed laity be consolidated, which can make its own specific contribution to the ecclesial ministries and tasks that each one has in the life of the Church and always in cordial communion with the bishops” (Benedict XVI, Message on the Occasion of the Sixth Ordinary Assembly of the International Forum of Catholic Action, 10th August 2012).

Much learning can also be gained through the sharing of successful processes with each other within a deanery or across like-minded parishes. Good preparation, underpinned with a good process such as Appreciative Inquiry and great wisdom, as contained in Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, can transform the future focus of parish pastoral councils as a leading body of discernment and planning in our dioceses and Church.


– Jill Gallio

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This entry was posted on 26 September, 2014 by .