Click / to expand/contract
a section



  1. An Historical Outline

  2. Role Of Parish Pastoral Councils

  3. Roles Of Key Bodies In The Parish

  4. Establishing A Parish Pastoral Council

  5. Parish Pastoral Councils In Action

  6. Renewing A Parish Pastoral Council

  7. Links




5. Parish Pastoral Councils In Action

5.6 Planning for the year(s) ahead

One of the Parish Pastoral Council's first tasks is to develop a plan for the coming year or two. A Parish Vision Statement can provide a basis for this plan along with a review of parish life and activities.

The plan contains a set of goals for the Parish Pastoral Council and strategies for achieving these. It does not require a great length of time to develop, and can be revisited and amended every few months. The following process could be adopted over two consecutive meetings, with some thought and summarising in between.

STEP 1: Pray
STEP 2: Reflect on your vision statement
STEP 3: Environmental scan
STEP 4: Brainstorm goals
STEP 5: Prioritise goals
STEP 6: Draft a plan
STEP 7: Members could also consider this draft before the next meeting

STEP 1: Pray

What ever you do, pray for God?s guidance and pray that God is with you at every step in this process. Honest planning will mean taking on many sacred cows, and God will help to guide you through the difficult human situations that change will bring, so that your parish can bloom into life and become the community that God truly wants it to be.

STEP 2 Reflect on your vision statement

Know your vision and be determined to move towards that vision. Though it may seem a challenge at first, often vision statements are fulfilled by parishes that are determined. One of the key roles of the parish priest, which should be shared by the Pastoral Council, is to be the ?keeper of the vision,? to ensure that the vision of the parish guides every action of the parish.

STEP 3 Environmental scan

In the 1980?s Safeway/Woolworths wanted to end its time as the basket case of Australian retailing. It wanted to become the most successful retailer in Australia, which indeed it has become.

What did its leadership do? They went out and found out which were the best retailers in Australia and overseas. Then, without losing an understanding of their unique history and their own objectives, they copied what they found of value from these other retailers. They also insisted on raising the quality of what they did, as had other successful retailers.

By this learning through modelling process, we can all ensure that the planning we put in place in the parish has the best chance of success. For example, it has been found that peer-based small groups are generally far more successful than geographic small groups, and that parish amalgamations rarely add life to the parish but are usually energy sapping. So learning the how to develop successful evangelising parishes will give huge short cuts and certainty to planning.

Find out which are the most effective evangelising parishes in your dioceses and the most effective other churches in your area. Ask all or some of your Council to visit and learn from them. Pay for your pastoral team and Council members to attend training courses from Catholic and non-Catholic organisations. Learn what you can and adapt these to Catholic tradition and the needs of your parish.

STEP 4: Brainstorm goals

After some opportunity for formation and reflection on the role of the parish and Parish Pastoral Council, brainstorm a list of possible goals for the Council in the next 12 months. Do this by taking 15 to 20 minutes for members to write their own lists and/or share their thoughts with a small group. Record these goals on a large board, without discussion at this stage.

STEP 5: Prioritise goals

Shortlist those suggested goals that most members agree are appropriate for the next 12 months. Do this by members again taking a little time to reflect how these suggested goals might build the community. Criteria for creating the shortlist could include

  • which will build and extend the parish community?

  • which goals could be achieved with available resources?

  • which have most chance of success?

  • which seem to be the logical goals to achieve first?

Then members could be given three or four votes/ticks and be asked to select the three or four they personally think appropriate for the next 12 months. Those suggested goals with most ticks/votes are probably strong contenders for this year's goals. To be more certain members could consider the full list again before the next meeting and repeat the exercise at that meeting.

STEP 6: Draft a plan

Begin drafting a plan. This can be started at the first meeting, because the questions and suggestions that arise can help clarify whether or not the shortlisted goals are appropriate.

The plan could contain the selected goals and specific details for each, under the following headings:

  • What will happen? (goals)

  • How will it happen? (strategies)

  • Who will do it? (people)

  • By when? (time-line)

  • What will the outcomes be? (evaluation)

STEP 7: Members could also consider this draft before the next meeting.

Improve the draft and accept it as a working document

At the second meeting, improve the draft plan where necessary and accept it as a working document. Circulate a copy of the plan to all members.

The plan should be referred to regularly, and amended as required.
Some members may have an interest in and talent for helping the group keep to this task.

Planning/action cycle

The following four-step planning/action cycle illustrates the ongoing link between planning and action:

(1) ACTION is taken
(2) Outcomes are EVALUATED
(4) DECISIONS are taken

Next: 5.7 Dealing with issues that arise during the year >>>



Copyright © 2004, Martin Teulan