APC focuses on serving needs of laity in Houston

February 21, 2016

HOUSTON — The new tagline, “One in Christ…from me to we,” for the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan formulated by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Pastoral Council (APC) epitomizes Christ’s vision that, “We, though many, are one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5).

Through the words of St. John Paul II, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan calls for a Spirituality of Communion where individual parishes come together as one Church to become intentional disciples of Christ within their homes, churches, Archdiocese and community. 

“A Spirituality of Communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us,” St. John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, No. 43.

According to Jim Barrette, director of the Secretariat for Pastoral and Educational Ministries, the plan was developed beginning in 2011 by the APC after nine months of collecting feedback from more than 7,000 Catholics living in the Archdiocese through listening sessions and surveys, and input from parish-level pastoral councils. After much prayer, discernment and reflection over the research findings by a small task group comprised of clergy, religious and laity from the APC, the plan’s vision to foster a Spirituality of Communion was created so the Church may address the needs of today, and create pathways so it may grow to meet the needs of the future.

The APC, which is one of 60 ministries supported by the 2016 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), is made up of close to 45 representatives from a cross-section of the Archdiocese, including clergy, religious and laity, that meets quarterly with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. New members are discerned every three years.

Barrette said each parish works organically to create programs and processes that fit the needs of its members while using the plan’s framework to ensure a Spirituality of Communion is achieved as one local Church. Since the plan’s inception five years ago, the actions of individual parishes to meet some or all of the nine objectives outlined in the plan have been captured by the APC so best practices can be shared between parishes having the same aspirations and needs.

“The plan consists of three pathways to help us live our faith, share our faith, and nurture our faith to take us from our current reality to the overall vision of the plan,” Barrette said. “These success stories get parishes excited about taking action and using their own council for meaningful work for their own parish needs. Part of the plan’s effort is to create a greater awareness that we are moving as a single Catholic entity in concert with other parishes.”

“As chairperson of the APC from 2012 to 2015, I understood our mission to be very simple — listen,” said Sue Fogarty. “Listen to the voice of the laity throughout the Archdiocese, prayerfully reflect on those voices and then provide counsel to the Cardinal as requested.” 

Fogarty said the APC serves as a microcosm of the Archdiocese since its members are discerned from each deanery. Each member is called to be attentive to the desires and prayers of the faithful in their areas and bring those to Cardinal DiNardo according to the agenda topics.

“Ministries that are supported by the DSF occasionally gather input from the APC in order to fine tune their focus or attend to a previously untargeted need,” Fogarty said. “The ministries are not operating in a vacuum, but are continually seeking and listening to the needs of the community and developing a response to those needs. Our support of the DSF ensures the continued message that the Church is servant in this Year of Mercy.”