Letter of Bishop William
Concerning Pastoral Councils
December 8, 2002
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The privilege and responsibility to oversee
and foster the pastoral life of the Diocese of Rockville Centre belongs
to me as your Bishop and chief shepherd. I share that responsibility
with my brother priests by appointing them shepherds of the faithful
in our parishes.
The faithful also share responsibility
for the pastoral mission of the local Church in virtue of their baptism
and full initiation into the Church. According to the Decree on the
Apostolate of the Laity issued by the Second Vatican Council, “the
laity has an active part of their own in the life and action of the
Church. Their action within the Church communities is so necessary that
without it the apostolate of pastors will frequently be unable to obtain
its full effect.”
Laymen and women are not merely recipients
of ministry. By reason of their baptism, they are called and gifted
for ministry, and together with the ordained clergy, share in witnessing
the Church’s faith and carrying out the Church’s mission.
Vatican Council II made it clear that clergy and laity must develop
new understanding and effective ways of collaborative leadership in
the parish and in the Diocese. One important way in which collaborative
leadership can be exercised in the parish is through the ministry of
the Pastoral Council.
Pastors, Associates, and other professional
ministers need a vivid awareness of the resource a Pastoral Council
can be, and the skills to develop and employ this resource. To this
end, and in accord with canon 536 of the Code of Canon Law, I officially
promulgate these Guidelines for Pastoral Councils for use throughout
the Diocese of Rockville Centre. This document replaces the 1987 Guidelines
for Pastoral Councils. The Diocese stands fully behind parish efforts
to recruit, train and engage with, plan with, and in all ways, collaborate
with dedicated and thoughtful lay leaders through the Pastoral Council.
Such collaboration is a vital marker of effective ministry by a pastor.
My prayers and blessings are with all who
help to make this vision become a reality throughout our Diocese.
Yours faithfully in Christ,
Most Rev. William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
Given at Rockville Centre
December 8, 2002
Sunday — Advent II
Robert Owen Morrissey, JCD