Parish Pastoral Planning is a prayerful and participative process through which a parish characterizes itself as a particular community of faith by developing its own parish mission statement; assessing its strengths/resources, limitations/needs; making recommendations to the pastor concerning establishment of priorities and goals and devising ways to accomplish its mission. Parish Pastoral Planning helps to answer the questions: Who are we as a parish? What are we called to do? How are we best going to do it?
All of us are called to participate fully in the life and mission of the Church. This mission of the Church is rooted in the mission of Christ who commanded everyone clergy, religious and laity to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15). From its earliest days the Church has responded to this mission in various ways depending upon the times and circumstances. The Diocesan mission statement provides the focus for our ongoing parish renewal efforts. It challenges us to commit ourselves to be a Church that:
- Worships God in spirit and truth;
- Creates and nourishes Christian Community;
- Proclaims in word and deed the Good News of Jesus Christ;
- Teaches the saving message of Christ;
- Serves all our sisters and brothers, particularly the poor and needy.
The Diocesan Mission Statement is also intended to provide a basis for reflection by the parishes as they seek to respond more fully to what Jesus is asking of them in contemporary circumstances. It gives parishes a framework for examining how they are living out the mission of Christ.
Within each parish, the Parish Pastoral council is a structure which can foster the full participation of the entire parish in the life and mission of the Church. One of the chief ways that a Pastoral Council functions is by pastoral planning. The members of the Parish Pastoral Council need to be rooted in prayer, open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, committed to patient listening and study, and working to recommend to the pastor the plans and directions which will enhance the quality of parish life and promote parish vitality. The pastor consults with the Parish Pastoral Council through a consensus process in an atmosphere of prayerful reflection.
Pastoral Planning is essential to the development of a parish. It encourages the fullest collaboration of clergy, religious and laity. Pastoral planning enables a parish to become ever more fully a portion of the people of God sharing in the mission of Christ, and developing the structures necessary for supporting its community life and carrying out its mission.
Pastoral planning increases clarity about the mission and priorities of the parish, affects the way in which the resources of the parish are used, and encourages the participation and support of the parish members.
Pastoral planning is an ongoing activity within each parish. Once the pastor has considered the Council’s recommendations and adopted a parish plan, he is responsible for leading the parish in the implementing of the plan and revising it as circumstances require. He does this through the parish pastoral staff, parish organizations and/or other persons designated by him.