Letter of Bishop William F. Murphy
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