Parish Models: Parish Staff, Parish Lay Support, Ministers and Ministry

To have an Amazing Parish, the pastor and priests would need a new kind of team supporting them. What would that look like?

All would be paid a just and living wage as defined by Church social teaching. The team includes (but is not limited to) people to lead such critical parish ministries as:

  • Chief of Operations
  • Worship
  • Evangelization
  • Marriage and Family
  • Christian Service
  • Business Manager
  • Religious Education
  • Youth Ministry
  • Facilities
  • Hospitality
  • Technology, Media and Communications
  • Prayer Ministry
  • Charisms and Discipleship
  • Various Other Small Groups

The current Catholic landscape can seem discouraging to threatening. This new kind of pastoral team would provide hope in the midst of these uncertain times. The number of people on the team would be more than many parishes could previously afford. It would include laity, religious brothers and sisters. They would collaborate to unleash the gospel. They would rally around and support each other during this new “apostolic” era.

Greater availability of the sacraments would be possible. The lay faithful would also experience the following:

  • The best of pastoral care.
  • Highest quality liturgical worship. Sunday Masses full or near capacity.
  • Superior spiritual and pastoral formation. This would equip them for their unique task of evangelizing and sanctifying the world.
  • Great catechesis, both for youth and adults
  • Evangelical and pastoral pre-marriage preparation
  • Marriage follow-up and enrichment
  • Ongoing care for the domestic church (the family)
  • Small group ministry

The Church has come under scrutiny where is has been slow to act in issues of diversity. Diversity and unity are a most powerful witness. This is especially the case among younger people. Many are scandalized by our all too often lack of diversity and unity. The ministries above would naturally lead to more diverse parishes. This would offer the opportunity for much-needed healing.

Christ alone can rescue the world from the powers of Sin and Death. A thriving parish family provides easy entry points to an initial connection to Christ. This provides an on-ramp for people to meet Jesus in a comfortable, non-threatening way. It offers opportunities for them to meet the power of the Holy Spirit. This would be especially necessary for the most vulnerable who have not encountered Christ or any kind of religion.

Many of the ideas I have presented above come from a white paper written by Detroit priest Father John Riccardo. He is the founder and director of Acts XXIX. I haven’t met Father John. I have met a colleague of his: Father Stephen Pullis, Director of Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools, Archdiocese of Detroit. Father Stephen and I had the honor of presenting to the national conference of the North American Lutheran Church in 2019. Father Stephen spoke about the “Unleash The Gospel” initiative in Detroit. From this initiative, the idea of Acts XXIX was born.

Father Riccardo doesn’t consider himself an expert in parish renewal. Yet, his former parish was known for its vibrant ministries. Father Riccardo had a popular, weekly radio program, Christ Is the Answer, on EWTN’s Ann Arbor-based station, Ave Maria Radio. He and his team have developed an approach to evangelization. It is a paradigm that they show and teach at parishes. The parish can then mold it to fit their culture. Acts XXIX seems to be gaining traction (They’re booked through 2022). His thoughts merit consideration and discussion.

There are other initiatives out there. Next week, I would like to present some other crazy ideas. I’ll propose how a parish might reach out beyond their parish buildings and perhaps engage thousands of people in an effective way.



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