Review of the Parish Pastoral Plan
The continuing process of pastoral planning in the parishes needs to include annual assessment of parish pastoral plans and actions taken to implement them as well as a periodic in depth evaluation of parish life, staffing, facilities, demographics, and financial stability. These activities should be carried out in parishes as one way to respond to their ongoing call to conversion and holiness, while recognizing, educating and forming parish leaders. These efforts, as all efforts within the parish or archdiocese, must begin with prayer and be fostered by prayer throughout. It is recommended that pastors and Parish Pastoral Councils participate in days of recollection and retreats as well.
It is recognized that the ongoing process of parish pastoral planning and its assessment be:
- Consistent with and respectful of what the parishes have already accomplished
- Oriented toward action and recognize that accomplishing the parish mission is a work in progress
- A simple and easy continuation of steps already introduced; and
- Continually supported by appropriate training.
To that end, it is recommended that the ongoing process of parish pastoral planning have two phases:
- An annual assessment of the specific objectives of the parish plan and actions taken to implement them normally carried out by the pastoral council; and,
- An in depth evaluation of parish life, staffing, facilities, demographics, and financial stability ( about every five years). This can be carried out by the pastoral council or by a special implementation committee formed for this purpose and would normally include at least some members of the parish pastoral and finance councils.
At their own initiative, individual parishes are encouraged to undertake the annual assessment of the parish pastoral plan to review the specific objectives to accomplish the parish plan by considering what was called for during the year in review, what was accomplished, and what needs to be changed. The parish pastoral council, chaired by the Pastor, is the pastoral planning body of the parish and has a primary responsibility in assessing the actions by which the parish pastoral plan is unfolding. It will be necessary to communicate the assessment process and its results to the parishioners as well as to enlist their observations during the process.
Consistent with the functions of the Parish Pastoral Council contained in “Rationale Principles and Guidelines for Parish Pastoral Councils” (p.5); it is recommended that the Parish Pastoral Council schedule one of its meetings annually for this purpose. This review could take place at the first meeting after the summer break or whenever the council feels that this meeting would be most productive. This meeting also presents an opportunity for new members of the council to become familiar with the parish mission statement and the pastoral plan.
Periodic In Depth Evaluation
At the request of their Dean, parishes will be prompted periodically to conduct an in depth evaluation of parish life, staffing, facilities, demographics, and financial stability. Each of the parishes in the Archdiocese may be at different levels of preparedness and enthusiasm to effectively carry out continuing pastoral planning and assessment. All involved will need to have a deeper understanding of the call to conversion and holiness. The Deans will be resources to parishes as they undertake these tasks. Additional resources, training and support are available from appropriate Archdiocesan offices (e.g., Office for Research and Planning).
Connection with Area Pastoral Planning
Every parish is part of a Pastoral Planning Area. The purpose of the Pastoral Planning Area association is to assist the individual parishes in achieving their pastoral goals and objectives. When reviewing the parish pastoral plan, each parish needs to recognize that the Planning Area of parishes in which it is located is a part of its environment. Parishes need to take into consideration the recommendations developed in the Area Pastoral Plan for all the area parishes to enhance strengths and minimize limitations in order to address the challenges of the individual parishes.