Parish Pastoral Planning (Part 1 of 2)

by Fr Nino Vinciguerra

In part one of our recent seminar series on parish formation the Parish Renewal Team began to develop the concept of parish pastoral planning.

The starting point for this was the revised Constitution for Parish Pastoral Councils and its accompanying e-Handbook. These two resources provide the underpinning theology for an understanding of the true nature and role of Parish Pastoral Councils, especially its responsibility for the pastoral care and formation of the parish. All this comes together in a wonderful way, when a parish develops a sound pastoral plan for the parish.

In many parishes planning is either non- existent or ‘ad hoc’ in nature or sometimes simply a knee jerk reaction. This type of ‘planning’ quickly loses focus and puff because it is not linked to an overall plan or vision and no one understands what is trying to be achieved. It can lead to frustration and confusion and more concerning diminish people’s passion and interest in serving.

Indeed, that is why organisations have formal plans. Plans that reflect the collective shared thinking of those involved: planning which involves and demonstrates serious thinking about the vision of the organisation and which, in turn, balances strengths against its challenges and capacity to achieve its goals.

Many of you will have participated in various forms of planning exercises in your employment and appreciate the plans that arise from such exercises become the blueprint for how the company will operate and the various things that need to be done to achieve the company’s goals. Imagine going to work and the managers not knowing what to do because the company could not communicate what direction it wanted the managers to take it in? Consider the money and time that would be wasted as well as the overall effect on people’s morale.  Likewise, imagine if you and your family didn’t plan family schedules, work and social activities and the stress, distress and confusion that might ensue?

Generally speaking, in our diocese parish planning is at its very embryonic stage and not many parishes have a formal parish plan or pastoral plan. At this point in our history can we really afford to be without one?

In my next edition I will talk more about pastoral planning and its benefits to parishes and the parish community.

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