3.1 – Discern the Family Leadership Team

A Family of Parishes is best served when the pastor and key collaborators (clergy and lay staff) work together as a team. The Leadership principle states:

Leadership Reversed

“Pastors, in collaboration with parochial vicars, deacons and lay ministers, according to their proper roles and charisms, share responsibility for pastoral leadership.”

While there are many groups of people who participate in leadership and governance of a parish or Family of Parishes (e.g. pastoral council, full staff, finance council, commissions, etc.), the leadership team has the greatest potential to effectively assist the pastor in implementing the mission of the parish.

Forming a unified Family Leadership Team (FLT) is one milestone of Phase 1 in the Leadership principle:

“Form a unified Family Pastoral Council, Family Leadership Team and staff, each rooted in prayer and supported by healthy teamwork.”

It will take time for your pastor to discern the members of your Family Leadership Team. In the short run (at the beginning of Phase 1 of the Pastoral Planning Pathway), it will be difficult for your Family to have a unified FLT for a variety of reasons:

  • Staff doesn’t know one another yet.
  • A new pastor is still settling in.
  • Representing all parishes may be difficult.
  • Key collaborators haven’t yet been identified or hired.
  • Parishes are still operating mostly independently of one another (which is normal and healthy in the beginning).

To-do: Use the Family Leadership Team overview to consider short-term leadership models and how your FLT might form during Phase 1.

2.3 The Family Council Ensures Representation

The Family Pastoral Council will ensure that parishioners have a voice in how their Family of Parishes serves them and leads them to missionary discipleship. In its most effective form, the pastoral council is the place where the pastor can share his concerns, discuss difficult pastoral issues, test new ideas and initiatives for the Family and get practical advice from a group of parishioners who live in and represent the larger and wider faith community. Through your Family Pastoral Council, your pastor and a group of parish leaders —united in a common purpose and a common set of values — engage in dialogue and search for wisdom to identify that which is best for your Family of Parishes.

Since neither your pastor nor the individual members of your Family Pastoral Council are all-knowing regarding the expectations, hopes and desires of your parishioners, your Family Pastoral Council provides a forum for all ideas to be heard. It is through active listening and the exchange of ideas that diverse views of the wider faith community become refined to reflect the desired future of your Family of Parishes.

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“As they become one Family, the culture and history of the parishes are acknowledged, honored, and, where possible, preserved as we move from maintenance to unification in the mission of Christ. Efforts are made to blend cultural differences with compassion and compromise.” (Church vision point)

Pastors also find that this structured mechanism for interchange and dialogue is helpful in promoting their own personal growth and in their development as the servant leader of their Family of Parishes. Representing the many views of your parishioners, your Family Pastoral Council can support your pastor, as well as challenge him to consider various perspectives on any given issue.

To-do: Ensure representation in leadership and Family pastoral life.

2.2 Establish a Council That Prayerfully Discerns

Providing spiritual direction and guidance for a Family of Parishes is a significant task. A Family Pastoral Council best assists the pastor when it gives attention to the quality of its own prayer and spiritual development.

The Family Pastoral Council best achieves its work through well-led meetings that are both efficient and orderly. Yet, the deliberations of the pastoral council are done in the context of a faith community and for the purpose of advising the pastor on pastoral matters. As such, your Family Pastoral Council is challenged to conduct itself in a spirit of prayerful discernment, dialogue and consensus-building. To that end, members are charged with discerning what the Holy Spirit might be calling your Family of Parishes to do at a given time. They will become more effective when they develop into an efficient work group. In such a group, the quality of relationships, a common sense of purpose, effective meeting procedures and the skills of dialogue and prayerful reflection are valued.

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“In pastoral planning and parish life, every Family of Parishes will adhere to the spirit and norms of the Vatican Instruction: “The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.” (2020)

To-do: Establish Family Pastoral Council meetings that include prayer, learning, reflection and discernment.

2.1 Form a Family Pastoral Council

All members of the Christian faithful are called to share in the mission which God has entrusted to them. In fact, “the whole community, and not simply the hierarchy, is the responsible agent of mission, since the Church is identified as the entire People of God.”[1] To that end, each Family of Parishes will have a pastoral council that will assist the pastor in the decision-making for the Family. The pastoral council represents the Family of Parishes community, and it has the task of advising the pastor on important matters of pastoral activity. The function of the pastoral council is “to investigate everything pertaining to pastoral activities, to weigh them carefully and to set forth practical conclusions concerning them so as to promote conformity of the life and actions of the People of God with the Gospel.”[2Parameter 11 states:

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“Every Family of Parishes will have a unified pastoral council, with other relevant and necessary consultative groups for specific areas of parish life.”

Forming a unified Family Pastoral Council is one milestone of Phase 1 in the Leadership principle:

“Form a unified Family Pastoral Council, Family Leadership Team and staff, each rooted in prayer and supported by healthy teamwork.”

The 1971 Synod in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati established the requirement for a pastoral council. The long-standing guidelines for the pastoral council state that pastoral planning is the principal activity of the pastoral council. This will be especially important as your Family of Parishes creates its annual pastoral plans throughout Beacons of Light and meets the expectation that the Family will become one canonical parish by June 30, 2027.

To-do: Use the resources in the Materials tab to begin forming a Family Pastoral Council.

[1] “Congregation for the Clergy, Instruction “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church,” June 27, 2020.
[2] 16 Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiae Sanctae, I, 16 §1 (1966).

1.3 Leadership Formation

Leadership doesn’t simply happen; it requires formation and training in order to be effective. Even those with innate leadership capacity benefit from such formation and training. The Families of Parishes comprise people who have myriad spiritual and pastoral needs, therefore, prayerful, bold, and creative leadership is necessary to bring about the change that is envisioned in Beacons of Light. In recognition of the need for well-formed and trained leaders, Parameter 15 indicates:

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“Priests, deacons, staff and other lay leaders will participate in ongoing spiritual formation and training for leadership.”

Leadership formation takes place in many ways. Your Family leaders should regularly incorporate learning, reflection and sharing in their meetings and other time together. The archdiocese offers live and virtual opportunities for parish leaders to learn and share best practices related to singular aspects of parish life and broader topics in pastoral leadership.

To-do: Make a commitment to ongoing spiritual formation and leadership training.

1.2 Family Leadership Commitment

One distinction that sets apart the leadership of a Family of Parishes is that the leaders are focused on the whole Family of Parishes rather than the individual parishes that comprise it. This requires the leaders to be committed to fostering unity among the parishes and their people. As leaders, you must be prepared to discern and take into consideration the mission of your Family, even when doing so means that the life of one or all your parishes is affected. In fact, your parishes should be affected! Bringing about transformation in your Family will require change in your parishes and your people.

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“Parishes continually deepen the bonds of communion with other parishes … People come to understand the nature of the parish as the people within a given territory and therefore grow in understanding themselves as members of Christ’s Body, the Church.” (Church principle and vision point)

As you discern your leaders, make sure they are ready to embrace the vision of and make a commitment to your Family of Parishes.

To-do: Ask leaders to make a commitment to the whole Family of Parishes, valuing unity and growth as they plan for the future of the Family.