Lay Pastoral Leaders are qualified lay people who have been called and formed for Lay Pastoral Leadership Ministry.

Once they have completed the academic, spiritual and pastoral formation components of the Archdiocesan Launch Out Formation Programme, they may then be endorsed by Cardinal John Dew, after which they can apply for appointment to a parish.

A Lay Pastoral Leader becomes responsible, as part of a collaborative Pastoral Team, for the leadership of a parish. 

The Lay Pastoral Leader exercises those functions in a parish which would normally be the responsibility of a Parish Priest, with the exception of those acts which require an ordained priest.

Cardinal John Dew is very clear that Lay Pastoral Leaders do not work for ‘Father’ but rather minister alongside him.

Cardinal John commissions Joe Green as Lay Pastoral Leader for the new Parish of Wellington South. Photo: Adri Widyanto and Brian Suhada

“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’. Cardinal John Dew, Welcom August 2015

An ecclesial appointment

Lay Pastoral Leadership is exercised in the Wellington Archdiocese 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’.

Lay Pastoral Leaders studying funeral liturgies

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 (who may not be resident in the parish) to exercise the powers and faculties of a Parish Priest.

The Launch Out Formation Programme for Lay Pastoral Leaders takes, LG #33, Canon 517 #2 and the two Archdiocesan Synods of 1988 and 1998 as its foundation.

The appointment of a Lay Pastoral Leader is thereby an ecclesial appointment.

If you would like to know more about Lay Pastoral Leadership contact Maya Bernardo, or (04) 496 5182

“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 is a team of people using their gifts for the good of those we are called to serve.” Cardinal John Dew.

Current Lay Pastoral Leaders

Barbara Rowley – Catholic Parish of Te Awakairangi

My name is Barbara Rowley and I was born into a Polish refugee family. I went to St Madeleine Sophie’s Catholic Primary School in Island Bay. And it is with great fondness and gratitude that I still look back on those days. They were the days when St Therese of Lisieux had not long been canonised and was the popular saint of the day. I chose Therese for my Confirmation name and sometimes dreamt about becoming a Carmelite nun, just like St Therese.   Other times I just wanted to be wife and mother.

God blessed me abundantly.  I married Kevin and we had four sons.

In the early 80s, I became a founding member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites in Wellington.   In a sense, my dream came true and I even got the best of both worlds.

Upon leaving school I took up employment in the General Post Office as a shorthand typist.   Later I became Secretary to Jim Knox (secretary of the Federation of Labour).   After the birth of my second child, I became a full time ‘mum’.

One thing that Carmelites hold in common, is a passionate love of the Church. St Therese claimed her vocation was to be ‘love at the heart of the Church’. St Teresa of Avila’s dying words were “I die a daughter of the Church’. I started to devote more and more of my spare time doing voluntary work in the Church. To help me in this work I felt I should do some formal studies.   I studied first for a Diploma in Pastoral Ministry and later completed the Launch Out Formation Programme.

In 2006 I was commissioned as a Lay Pastoral Leader in St Bernadette’s, Naenae. I have been a Lay Pastoral Leader for 11 years and today am a member of the Pastoral Team in the amalgamated parish of Te Awakairangi.

Joe Green – Parish Director of Mission for Ohariu Parish.

My name is Joe Green.

I have been the Lay Pastoral Leader at the Catholic Parish of Wellington South since February 2016. I work across the whole parish, including its two churches and three schools. I have been working in a team with two priests, one of whom is Parish Leader (Parish Priest).

In late 2015 I walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. A life changing experience – I resigned from my 32-year career with the NZ Police on my return. My last 16 years in police were as an Inspector in various roles including National Coordinator for Arms Control, managing the vetting service, and in the last three years, search and rescue and emergency management.

Prior to joining Police, I was a primary school teacher at the Catholic school in Island Bay.

I have been an enthusiastic tramper and hunter, including instructing others in outdoor safety. I still get into the outdoors from time, especially as several of my nine grandchildren also take an interest in our wild places.

I am the Archdiocesan representative on the National Network for the RCIA and support the Cardinal as one of three lay people on the National Dialogue for Christian Unity. I am on the executive of the National Dialogue.

Rosa and I have been married for four years. I have three adult children and nine grandchildren. And, a great grandson coming up to one.

I have a B.A. (Hons) in Sociology, a Diploma in Pastoral Leadership, am a trained teacher, and hold qualifications in outdoor safety and adult training and education.

I look forward to taking up the role of Parish Director Mission at St Francis of Assisi Ohariu Parish, working with the Leadership Formation Team in an exciting model of parish leadership.

Debbie Matheson – Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish

My name is Debbie Matheson.  I am married to Ken and we have four adult children.  We became grandparents for the first time in June 2018.  I have a background in secretarial work, sales and personnel consulting.  I loved being a stay-at-home Mum for 17 years, during which time I became involved in advocacy work with local communities and government; setting up a ‘walking bus’ route; and on-road cycle training for children.

We have lived in England for 11 years.  While there, I was received into the Catholic Church, in 2002.  It was there that I first became involved in Catholic youth ministry.  In 2008 Ken and I were blessed to accompany a group of 20 young adults to World Youth Day in Sydney.  This gathering of 250,000 young Christian adults for worship, formation and fellowship had an enormous impact on me.  It has, and continues to, shape and drive my lay ministry vocation.

If I was asked to describe myself as a person from the gospel that I could most relate with it would be Martha, though I long to be a Mary!  Like Martha I am always on the go and actively serving, but when I do take time out to relax I love to spend it with my family, visiting vineyards, gardening, cycling, walking, baking, crocheting or sewing.

I have studied with The Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand since 2007.  In 2009 I completed the Certificate of Catholic Youth Ministry while employed as the Youth Coordinator on the Kapiti Coast for six years.  In 2012 I completed the Certificate in Religious Studies, Pastoral Ministry Stream.  Then in 2016 I completed the Diploma in Pastoral Leadership.  At this time, I also graduated from the Archdiocese of Wellington ‘Launch Out’ Formation Programme, and was endorsed by the Archbishop for formal lay pastoral leadership ministry.

I have been working for the Archdiocese of Wellington supporting parish pastoral leadership teams for two years.  In March 2018 I was appointed as the Lay Pastoral Leader of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His mother Mary.  My dreams and aspirations for this new chapter in my life is that, together with God, I may walk with His people, encouraging, empowering and inspiring them to live and spread the gospel messages.  To sum up, to be ‘Christ’s hands and feet here on earth’.

“I am committed now, as Archbishop, to the concept of lay ministry as never 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”.
Cardinal Thomas Williams, Emeritus Archbishop of Wellington, In His Own Words, 2004.