Lay Pastoral Leaders

Lay Pastoral Leaders are qualified lay people having been called, formed and then endorsed by Cardinal John Dew for Lay Pastoral Leadership Ministry.

A Lay Pastoral Leader,  having completed the academic, spiritual and pastoral formation components of the Archdiocesan Launch Out programme (or its equivalent), becomes responsible, as part of a collaborative Pastoral Leadership Team, for the leadership of a parish.  At a number of Lay Pastoral Leader commissioning’s Cardinal John has spoken about seeing new initiatives and vibrant life in parishes as a result of people ministering in collaborative teams. Cardinal John is very clear that Lay Pastoral Leaders do not work for ‘Father’ but rather minister alongside.

In an article in Welcom in August 2015 Cardinal John said ‘since Lay Pastoral Leaders have been working in parishes, they have given outstanding pastoral leadership, and done wonderful pastoral work.  They have added a dimension to priestly service that has enhanced the ministry of the priests they work with.  May this new model excite you, kindle creativity, and bring new vision and energy’.

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, LG #33, Canon 517 #2 and the two Archdiocesan Synods of 1988 and 1998 as its foundation.

‘In this Diocese, we’ve been called to work collaboratively in teams to support, encourage and help one another, and those we have been called to serve.  That’s what lay pastoral leadership is about: the people we are called to serve.

Parish leaders have been called to lead in such a way that the wisdom and talents of each member of the team are fully utilised in decision making, pastoral planning and ministry – people sharing their wisdom and their talents.  That’s what makes it ‘collaborative ministry’.  It is not one priest in a parish trying to do everything himself; it’s a team of people using their gifts for the good of those we are called to serve’. +John A. Cardinal Dew.

Cardinal Tom Williams, Emeritus Archbishop of Wellington, 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’.

If you would like to know more about Lay Pastoral Leadership contact Mary-Ann Greaney (04) 496 1784, m.greaney@wn.catholic.org.nz