Archdiocesan Pastoral Council guides mission of love in Galveston-Houston parishes
September 12, 2023
Parishioners at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston attend an Easter Vigil Mass with lit candles during a recent Holy Week. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council embraces this mission to ensure the 146 Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese remain committed to spreading Christ’s love to meet the evolving and unique needs of the local Church. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)
HOUSTON — The Church teaches that its mission rests upon the faithful who are called as Apostles to mirror Christ’s teachings found in the Gospels, spreading His message of love and redemption to all.
The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council (APC) embraces this mission to ensure the 146 Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese remain committed to spreading Christ’s love to meet the evolving and unique needs of the local Church.
In an advisory role directly supporting Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, APC members consist of clergy, religious and lay men and women from various parishes in the 10 counties within the Galveston-Houston area. They offer diverse perspectives, address changing needs, and create and facilitate initiatives to strengthen the local Catholic community’s faith, engagement and unity.
Sally Davila from St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal Catholic Church in Texas City, who is in her second three-year term as a lay representative on the APC, also serves as a parish delegate. She assists the APC as a parish delegate coordinator. She has gained invaluable knowledge and new ideas to share with her pastor and parish council.
“To be in the presence of the Cardinal, to hear his messages, receive his blessings and attend Masses in which he serves, also have been very beneficial to me as a layperson,” said Davila. “It is a joy to meet new friends, such as priests, deacons, sisters and administrative personnel from other parishes, and to learn from them.”
Donna Pierson, vice chair of the APC since September 2022 and member of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, sees the progress being made toward bringing forth Christ’s missionary work as His Church.
“The benefits gained from being a member of the APC make me more aware that our ministry is on the right path because we realize that all of God’s children are after the same thing,” said Pierson. “We want to know that God sees us, that He hears us, that we are important, and that we are all included in His love for us.”
According to Jim Barrette, secretariat director of Pastoral and Educational Ministries who has led the APC since it began under Cardinal DiNardo, the council developed an Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan two years ago that aligns the parish mission with three central objectives: valuing individuals, embracing diversity and strengthening family connections. He said the council is currently utilizing the synodal listening process to assist parish councils with annual pastoral planning efforts to address the specific needs and interests of their community.
Barrette said through the synodal listening process in 2022, key points emerged that address critical needs found in the local Church from various groups, including youth and young adults. He said the APC is currently addressing many of these issues, including a renewed emphasis on formation and spiritual growth opportunities for young people, fostering parental formation as primary catechists for children across age groups, and sustained engagement with young individuals within the synodal process in the future.
Barrette said while the specifics of these updates to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan remain pending approval by the Cardinal, the council aims to present the final document to him in September, with details to be announced to the public in the fall.
As one of 64 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), Barrette said the faithful come together to support the efforts of the APC, which ensures the Cardinal remains well-informed about the growing dynamic, diverse needs within the Archdiocese that ultimately brings about much-needed discussion and change.
“Donations by each and every individual have an impact that is magnified in the communal effort of the DSF annual appeal,” said Barrette. “In other words, a donation of any amount, when combined with the other members of the Archdiocese, allows for actions that could not be attained by one person or even one parish alone.”
Davila agrees giving to the DSF is one way for the faithful to do their part in growing the Catholic faith, both personally and collectively, as the Body of Christ.
“I will continue being a servant of God, and these are ways I can do that — by being involved in the APC and other ministries, by giving to the DSF, and always answering God’s call,” said Davila. “Giving to the DSF can help lead an additional person into eternal salvation — the more you give, the more you receive.”
Pierson said being a part of the APC has shown her both similarities and differences between parishes and how they are continually spiritually evolving. She also has a new appreciation for giving annually to the DSF, which supports many ministries that would have to go without if additional funding is not available.
“As our communities are changing, our parish needs are changing. Therefore, the logistics of the DSF are stretched, and funds need to be replenished,” said Pierson. “As the chair of the Pastoral Council at my parish, I better understand now why the needs of parishes may not be immediately resolved or responded to and why we, as parishioners, are asked each to give and continue giving. Giving to the annual DFS appeal will enable these important ministries to continue to prosper and grow.”
The DSF supports each of these ministries, whether direct service or education, which require this critical funding to remain in operation. Out of each gift given to DSF, 100% of every dollar goes directly to supporting these ministries.