Parish Pastoral Council Formation Program created to benefit parishes, agencies

11 Mar 2021

By The Record

Several priests, deacons, and laypeople attended the first PPC consultation meeting at Bateman Parish on Saturday 6 March. Photo: Michelle Tan.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Perth’s Parish Renewal Implementation Group (PRIG) has been dedicated in its mission of developing and strengthening the future of parishes state-wide.

Focussing on the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC)’s primary role and function, the council’s Formation Program’s constitutional launch was recently held where the initial thoughts of the plan were discussed, and gaps were identified.

About 50 clergymen and laypeople attended the first PPC consultation meeting, held in Bateman Parish’s function hall on Saturday 6 March.

Presentations were given by all members of the PRIG including Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Renay Grech, Dr Carmel Suart, and Father Nino Vinciguerra to provide clarity regarding the PPC’s role as an umbrella instrument in parishes to help support and give guidance to ministries.

The Perth Archdiocese established the group as a priority working party of the Archdiocesan Plan 2016-2021. The PRIG is also working in collaboration with other relevant Archdiocesan agencies.

The workshops will take place at intervals over the next two years with each contributing incrementally to the knowledge and skills of parishes to become truly formed as mature and alive parishes.

Laywomen and laymen had their say during the first Parish Pastoral Council consultation meeting on 6 March 2021. Photo: Michelle Tan.

Each seminar will explain and unpack the Parish Pastoral Council Constitution and information in the Pastoral Council Handbook. Each of these were initially introduced to the Diocese’s parishes in 2018 and this series of full day workshops will build on them in more depth. The seminars will take a practical skills-based approach to strengthening parishes’ capabilities and operations and place them on the road to becoming fully formed parishes.

The 6 March session began with a screening of a pre-recorded message from Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB.

“I am pleased to support this formation program for parish pastoral councils, and I pray that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the parishes of our Archdiocese will continue to become strong evangelising communities,” His Grace expressed.

Parish Renewal Implementation Group Coordinator Fr Nino Vinciguerra leads a session presentation at St Thomas More Church, Bateman Parish, on 6 March. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“Good parish leaders are those who grow in their faith and understanding of the Church’s mission, the mission of Jesus. This is why I believe that faith formation and leadership training is pivotal to the role of pastoral leadership.

Efforts of this nature, he added, “brings us to a Christ-centred focus in all our efforts to revitalise our parishes”.

“It provides the skills to discern the pastoral needs of the parish, and to develop parish pastoral plans that meet the varying needs of the people of God, especially those on the margins of life,” Archbishop Costelloe added.

“It encourages us to collaborate with each other, to be truly a people walking together in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd,”

“From your presence here today, I am greatly encouraged by your commitment to further develop your role as leaders who care for the lives of all people who call your parish home.”

PRIG Coordinator Fr Vinciguerra shared the group’s rationale with The eRecord.

“Councils are best served through by having a clear understanding of the common mission of Jesus and the Church and direct their energies to carry out that mission more effectively,” the rationale stated.

Laymen and laywomen brainstormed their thoughts during the first Parish Pastoral Council consultation meeting on 6 March. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“The overall focus of a PPC is to invite people into a deeper relationship with Jesus and the community of disciples as well as provide opportunities for this to happen. The design of a PPC is based on fostering and supporting pastoral activities.  As part of the annual evaluation of parish activity, this is one of the most important activities for the council to monitor and focus on.

“Formation is central to the life of a Christian, but more so in the life of a leader. The person who is evangelised wants to understand faith better and wants to share the experience of faith with other believers,” it continued.

“This Formation Program seeks to form members of the pastoral council so that each member understands their role in the light of the mission of the Church. As members deepen their faith understanding, they will carry out their mission of evangelisation within the life of the Church and parish more effectively.”

Fr Vinciguerra says the group aims to move from an operational focus to one that is strategically pastoral and hopes to further collaborate with parishes and agencies to carry forth the Catholic Church’s ministerial actions.