Hearing Spiritual Needs
A pastoral plan is not about filling out forms and sending them into the Chancery. It is about recognizing the Spiritual Destination of your community and putting in place the building blocks to get you there.
It is important to analyze the spiritual needs of your entire community to create a compelling and inspiring plan. Understanding improves through studying, listening and surveying. Meanwhile, discernment comes through dialogue, prayer, and consensus.
Spiritual needs manifest in different forms, depending on age, gender and family status but also on cultural and ethnic heritage. Therefore, it is important to study and understand the demographics in your area, so worship, evangelization, formation, service, community, and stewardship acquire lively and relevant meaning in your parish. We have customized demographics reports available for your immediate use. While embracing diversity and inclusion, we move towards the kind and communitarian love Christ taught us to live.
You can also observe needs and dialogue about them before, during, or after Sunday Eucharist, in your parish ministries and every community activity. Remember to look beyond your usual observation zone. Some basic, yet unattended, needs may surprise you. Ocassionally, you will find your parish will need to attend basic matters before moving forward into more elaborated pastoral programs. Take a look at Bishop Barron’s perspective on practical pastoral initiatives your parish can do to prevent parishioners from leaving the community.
Why Catholics leave the Church?
After that, you will have an educated understanding of things and can have a more objective and comprehensive point of view. Additionally, you can opt for a structured assessment, if you want.
The archdiocese offers resources and facilitators to clarify how to organize your planning process, conduct discussions, choose appropriate activities and help draft the plan. Ask for help. That is what we are here for.
If you want to improve your knowledge about pastoral councils, the elements of parish life, and the preparation of a pastoral plan, you may also find a great resource in this book:
Revisioning the Parish Pastoral Council (2001) from Gubish, Jenny & McGannon.