Next week I shall be on my annual Canonical Retreat, a requirement of all priests (Why it has to be a requirement – I have no idea. Why a priest would not want to get away for a week of silence, rest and spiritual nourishment, I have NO idea!). I shall certainly be praying for the people and mission of St. Monica during this week. In addition, I shall also use the time to discern a number of important items that we shall address upon my return.
One area involves “Parish Leadership” specifically the Parish Pastoral and Parish Finance Councils. Both parish councils have been invaluable to the people of St. Monica as well as to Fr. Trader and me over the past few years. They are selfless, prayerful and dedicated and are to be thanked and congratulated for their time and work.
According to the guidelines about parish councils the terms of a number of members have expired. Thus the parish of St. Monica will discern who is being called to fulfill a leadership role in the parish. This is done in order to:
- Encourage fuller participation of all parish members.
- Call forth a fuller expression of leadership in the parish.
- Solicit new ideas, point out unknown and unfulfilled needs, suggest new approaches and present these to the Parish Councils.
The Rationale for lay participation in the life and mission of the parish is found in the documents of Vatican Council II. The Council urged active involvement in the life of the Church by emphasizing collaborative responsibility, consultation and lay participation:
Pastors know that they themselves were not meant by Christ to shoulder alone the entire saving mission of the Church toward the world. On the contrary, they understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful to recognize their particular service and charismatic gifts so that all, according to their proper roles, may cooperate in this common undertaking with one heart. (Dogmatic Constitution On the Church, Paragraph #30).
…the laity have an active part to play in the life and activity of the Church. Their activity is so necessary within Church communities that without it the apostolate of the pastors is generally unable to achieve its full effectiveness. (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, Paragraph #10).
Soon I shall be providing further information about parish leadership including guidelines and expectations of new Parish Pastoral and Finance Council members. In the meantime, I ask that you pray for:
- The gift of discernment that people being called to leadership will hear God’s call,
- The gift of courage for people with the call to accept the invitation,
- The gift of insight and wisdom that the parish will choose the right people.