As part of our response to Pope Francis’s call at Assisi for parishes to renew themselves and respond to the pastoral needs of its people, we have taken the Holy Father’s advice and held a series of a plenary parish council meetings. Part of our reason for this was also the recognition that we need to prepare for our future as the diocese faces the challenge of staffing parishes in the future.
Following a parish consultation in December 2013 we have attempted to address the issues and concerns raised in the written returns we received, and in response have set up new parish groups which compliment those already well established in the parish.
The Pastoral Planning Team helps the priest in the overall running of the parish; offering their advice, experience and canvassing the opinions of fellow parishioners. They help set the agenda for the Parish Council Meetings and the chairperson of the Parish Council also chairs the Pastoral Planning Team.
These are the words of Pope Francis addressing priests and religious at Assisi. They are the best explanation and reason I have found for a parish council.
“ How necessary Pastoral Councils are! A parish priest cannot lead a parish without the Pastoral Councils. This is fundamental! Here I think once more of you priests, and let me place myself in your company. What could be more beautiful for us than walking with our people? It is beautiful! When I think of the parish priests who knew the names of their parishioners, who went to visit them; even as one of them told me: “I know the name of each family’s dog”. They even knew the dog’s name! How nice it was! What could be more beautiful than this? I repeat it often: walking with our people, sometimes in front, sometimes behind and sometimes in the middle, and sometimes behind : in front in order to guide the community, in the middle in order to encourage and support; and at the back in order to keep it united and so that no one lags too, too far behind, to keep them united. There is another reason too: because the people have a “nose”! The people scent out, discover, new ways to walk, it has the “sensus fidei,” as theologians call it. What could be more beautiful than this? During the Synod, it will be very important to consider what the Holy Spirit is saying to the laity, to the People of God, to everyone.