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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:

Leadership Reversed

“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:

Leadership Reversed

“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.

Leadership Reversed

“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.

1.1 Leadership in the Family of Parishes

Phase 1 of Beacons of Light is focused on discerning and forming leaders in the many roles and with varying responsibilities that are necessary to move our Families of Parishes from maintenance to mission. 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.”

The implementation of Families of Parishes offers a new opportunity to examine existing models of leadership and, when appropriate, to adopt new ones. Many Families will comprise parishes in which most leaders are already engaged. Leaders in each Family will come together to discern who is best suited for the various leadership roles and responsibilities that will be necessary in this new pastoral reality.

The vision of co-responsibility in leadership is rooted in the conviction that every person has been given gifts which may be put at the service of the community. Together, leaders discern what will be necessary to chart a new, more missionary course for their Family of Parishes in the future. [1]

Your Family of Parishes will form many leadership groups during Phase 1, including:

  • The Pathway Team
  • The Unified Pastoral Council
  • The Family Leadership Team
  • The full staff
  • Core teams, commissions and other guiding groups

Each has its particular purpose and role within your Family.

To-do: Begin to prayerfully discern the leadership groups that will guide your Family of Parishes in the coming months and years.

[1] Journeying Together, p. 11.

Leadership Overview: Phase 1

Phase 1 is focused on leadership for a reason. When prayerful leaders are committed to the mission of Christ and the Church, they will effectively guide their Family of Parishes toward vital, mission-focused parish life. They will draw others into active participation, building on the talents and gifts of all in the community. Such leaders will not be satisfied with the status quo. Rather, they will “identify perspectives that allow for the renewal of ‘traditional’ Parish structures in terms of mission. This is the heart of the desired pastoral conversion, which must touch the proclamation of the Word of God, the sacramental life and the witness of charity, in other words the essential areas in which the Parish grows and conforms to the Mystery in which it believes.” [1]

To say that leaders lead might seem apparent. In the past, however, parish leaders were often bogged down in sustaining existing practices with little time, resources or people available to strengthen missionary discipleship in their parish or to address new pastoral needs in the local community. Beacons of Light presents us with a new opportunity — to discern and form leaders who will guide our Families of Parishes to more fully live Christ’s mission, to radiate Christ now and into the future.

Pastors, other priests, deacons, lay staff and parishioner leaders all have a role to play in this crucial time. In Phase 1, leadership groups will be identified and begin formation:

  • The Pathway Team will guide the coming together of the Family as a faith community in the early stages of Beacons of Light.
  • The pastoral councils of the parishes in the Family will begin to come together as a Family Council.
  • The pastor will discern a Family Leadership Team.
  • The Family of Parishes will form commissions, committees and core teams to create and implement the Family’s annual plan for growth.

[1] Vatican Instruction: The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church,” (2020), 20.

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