Lay Pastoral Leaders are lay people called, formed and then endorsed by Cardinal John Dew for Lay Pastoral Leadership Ministry.
They are a qualified lay person who, after having successfully completed the academic, spiritual and pastoral formation components of the Archdiocesan Launch Out programme (or its equivalent), and having been endorsed by the Archbishop, are responsible as part of the Pastoral Leadership Team for the leadership of a parish.
The Lay Pastoral Leader may have particular responsibility, and will work collaboratively with other members of the Pastoral Leadership Team. The Lay Pastoral Leader may be appointed to exercise those functions which would normally be the responsibility of a Parish Priest, with the exception of those acts which require an ordained priest, in an individual church community or parish.
Lay Pastoral Leadership is exercised in the Wellington Diocese in accordance with church teaching, whereby:
Lumen Gentium #33 provides that ‘the laity can also be called in various ways to a more direct form of cooperation in the apostolate of the hierarchy’, and ‘lay (people) have the capacity to be deputed by the hierarchy to exercise certain church functions for a spiritual purpose’; and
Canon 517 #2 gives effect to this, providing that the Bishop of a Diocese may ‘entrust a share of the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish’ to ‘some other person who is not a priest’. In this case the Bishop is to appoint a priest to exercise the powers and faculties of a Parish Priest.
The appointment of a Lay Pastoral Leader is thereby an ecclesial appointment.
The Launch Out Formation Programme takes these three, LG #33, Canon 517 #2 and the two Archdiocesan Synods of 1988 and 1998 as its foundation.
Cardinal Tom, in his book ‘In His Own Words’, stated ‘I am committed now, as Archbishop, to the concept of lay ministry as before. Not because there are now fewer priests engaged in pastoral work! I refuse to accept the diminished number of priests as reason for encouraging lay ministry. I do recognise, however, that perhaps God has blessed us by not calling as many as before to the priestly ministry and so providing an occasion for rediscovering lay ministry and coming to understand the theology of Church and mission which underlies and gives purpose and scope to ministry.
Seeing lay ministry as the solution to priest shortage tempts us to settling it in the context of expediency. We will end up trying to fill gaps and maintain obsolete models of pastoral care. Seeing lay ministry as an expression of mission arising from baptism and confirmation leads us to setting it in its proper theological context. We will begin transforming our structures and methods of evangelisation, and establishing new, more relevant and effective models for pastoral care’.