To thrive and not merely survive in the years ahead, vital parishes will learn to be intentional and responsive. They will foster lay leadership and find ways to be true to their Catholic identity while responding to emerging pastoral needs in creative ways. These parishes will focus on revitalizing the congregation and mobilizing its people with missionary purpose. Thriving parishes will be strategic in purpose, entrepreneurial in operation, missionary in outlook and active online. Success starts with leadership and the pastoral council can be a vital partner in the parish leadership team.
This Office serves dozens of parish pastoral councils each year with workshops and consultation on: strategic planning, spiritual vitality, meeting skills, enabling volunteers, cluster-wide collaboration and leading in transitions. The Office also provides guidelines for council operation and best practices. There is no cost for any of these services.
Some popular topics include:
- Purpose of a Pastoral Council: central function of the pastoral council, characteristics of effective councils, collaborating with the pastor (for parish staff and pastoral council)
- Effective Parish Councils: how good decisions are made, working toward consensus, structuring a successful parish council, the role of committees/commissions, to delegate or not to delegate, that is the question (for parish staff and pastoral council)
- Meeting Skills for Parish Organizations: strategic planning, agenda - the key to productive and enjoyable meetings, the art of facilitating, persuasive communication and negotiating skills (for parish staff and pastoral council)
- Best Practices for Parish Pastoral Councils - Learn how successful councils: start with clarity of purpose, hold productive and purposeful meetings, make wise use of structures and committee reports and get practical answers to questions about size of council, selection of members, how to get started, meetings, and relationship with the parish finance council among others.
- Growing an Engaged Church: moving from maintenance to mission, best practices for pastoral excellence, leveraging change to maximize growth, adapting to meet emerging needs, pastoral planning made easy (for parish staff, pastoral council and ministry leaders)
- Strategic Planning Made Simple: the difference between proactive and reactive planning, elements and steps in developing a strategic plan, how to best consult with the congregation, to survey or not to survey - that is the question, how to write high impact goals
Parish vitality does not just happen. It is the result of strategic thinking and effective leadership. One of the hallmarks of effective leadership is the ability to mobilize a community and focus its energy in a strategic direction. Strategic Councils plan for success.
Parishes that want to assess their progress toward vibrant parish life can use the Parish Planning Survey. Once you have collected the completed survey contact our office to have the results tabulated and receive a confidential report of findings. The Parish Listening Session is one way to discuss the plans for the future and energize the community for its mission. Download these resources or contact the Office of Parish Life for expert analysis of your planning survey results.
The diocese also offers guidelines for effective parish pastoral councils, guidance on constitution and bylaws as well as understanding the relationship between pastoral councils and finance councils.
Guidelines and Articles
Complete Guidelines (44 pages including appendices)
Summary (4 pages)
On Constitution and Bylaws
On Relationship of Finance and Pastoral Councils
Pastoral Council Plans for Vitality
Volunteers - Finding Them, Equipping Them and Keeping Them
Use the tools and resources here and contact Dennis Mahaney, 716-847-8393 for more assistance.