Pastoral Planning for the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

Pastoral Councils

Page62The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference has named pastoral planning as “a primary role of the parish pastoral council” for it is “the discipline of intentionally working towards a desired future” (ACBC’s Committee for Laity). Parish pastoral councils are mandatory in the Diocese of Parramatta, generally include elected lay members, are presided over by the parish priest but may be chaired by a layperson.

The purpose of such councils is to foster pastoral action in the parish by proposing, studying and facilitating pastoral initiatives that respond to the needs of the local community. This includes planning for the future with the support of the parish finance committee so that the faith community can grow in holiness and reach out to others with the Gospel.

Implementing the Pastoral Plan

Faith in Our Future offers almost one hundred actions that parishes can undertake to grow and share the faith of their community. You can read the parish actions here.

Parish pastoral councils will play a key role in discerning the present opportunities and challenges for the parish in growing and sharing its faith, and selecting those actions of the Pastoral Plan which will best equip the parish to respond to local needs and potential.

A step-by-step implementation guide has been prepared specifically for parish pastoral councils in our Diocese. It can be downloaded here. It is recommended that all members of your parish pastoral council read through this guide, discuss it with their parish priest and parish ministry groups, before putting the plan into action. While every parish pastoral council will have its own approach to planning for parish life, the implementation guide provides a starting point for a united and inclusive approach to parish planning.

Looking for More Resources?

While Faith in Our Future contains an implementation guide for parish pastoral councils, some parishes may seek out more resources to understand their own role as a pastoral council, information on how to elect new council members and resources for pastoral council formation and renewal. Below are some resources which may assist your council make the most of the Pastoral Plan:

    • The norms for parish pastoral councils in the Diocese of Parramatta can be downloaded here
    • The website of the ACBC, providing the theology, information and resources for parish pastoral councils, can be found here
    • Recommended books and resources for our parish pastoral councils include:

– Cecilia Anning. Handbook for Parish Pastoral Councils. Third edition. Brisbane: Faith & Life, 2007.

– Mark F. Fisher, Making Parish Councils Pastoral. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2010.

– Mark F. Fisher and Mary Margaret Raley, eds. Four Ways to Build More Effective Parish Councils: A Pastoral Approach. New   London, Connecticut: Twenty-Third Publications, 2007.

– Mary Ann Gubish and Susan Jenny, Revisioning the Parish Pastoral Council: A Workbook. Mahwah: New Jersey: Paulist Press, 2001.

– William L. Pickett, A Concise Guide to Pastoral Planning. Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2007.

– Debra Snoddy, Jim Campbell and Andrew McNally, Parish Pastoral Councils: A Formation Manual. Dublin: Veritas Publications, 2010.

– Charles Zech, Mary L. Gautier, Robert J. Miller and Mary E. Bendyna, Best Practices of Catholic Pastoral and Finance Councils. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2010.

Contact our Pastoral Planning Office or the Institute for Mission for any more information on these titles (02 9831 4911), order them directly from the St Pauls Books and Gifts Centre, Parramatta (02 9126 8912), or order them online via the Pauline Books and Media website (

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