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Beacons of Light: Foundational Principles #4: Leadership a Partnership of Peter, Pastors and Parishioners

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by Deacon Mark Machuga

This article is the fourth in a series covering each of the six foundational principles of Beacons of Light, the pastoral planning process of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:18-19)

With these words, Jesus entrusted the Church’s leadership directly to Peter and his successors. The hierarchy was established in the years that followed and authority was passed on through the popes to bishops and pastors for the care and feeding of their flocks. It is important to recognize that the origins of authority within the Church are traced directly back to Jesus Himself.

It should be no surprise, then, that leadership is one of those six principles on which Beacons of Light is built. Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr approved those principles as the foundation for the plans each Family of Parishes will develop. The Leadership principle states: “Pastors, in collaboration with parochial vicars, deacons and lay ministers, according to their proper roles and charisms, share responsibility for pastoral leadership. The spiritual, physical and mental health and ongoing support of ordained and lay leaders is vital for Families of Parishes.”

It recognizes and celebrates contributions from the many leaders in a parish community. While ultimate authority and final decisions rest with the pastor, the gifts of many others contribute to a parish’s success and vitality. As a cooperative leadership vision unfolds within our Families of Parishes, it is good to explore the dimensions that will bring this about effectively.

  • Our Pastor is Our Shepherd: Appointed by the archbishop to lead the Family of Parishes, a single pastor is, ultimately, entrusted with the care of souls and is, therefore, responsible for the parish’s leaders and leadership.
  • We Are Unified Under Our Pastor: The goal is the unification of multiple parishes into one Family: one parish led by one pastor.
  • Deacons Will Assist the Pastor and Parochial Vicars: As part of the diocesan clergy, appointed by the archbishop, deacons will join the pastor and parochial vicars in serving the Family of Parishes, rather than just their individual
  • We Show Concern for the Health and Well-being of Our Leaders: Through acts of fraternal charity and concern, all Family members support and foster the health and well-being of all leaders, to whom is entrusted the Church’s success.
  • Co-responsibility Is Essential for Success: Pastors, staff and parishioners share responsibility for bringing all relevant perspectives to the process of discernment, according to their proper roles and In this way, all Family members’ contributions are recognized, respected and included.

    Leaders Embrace Personal Development: Clergy participate in and are accountable for their own formation, so that both they and the laity are well-formed spiritually, theologically and in leadership to support their respective

    We Plan for Tomorrow’s Leadership: Pastors actively cultivate skill in their leaders and draw others into leadership with Planning and formation for our leaders’ futures will sustain the Family for generations to come.

Many people and teams make up our Family of Parishes’ leadership, sharing a common desire to bring the Gospel to life in the community. Clergy, pastoral council, finance council, competent and qualified staff, and numerous ministries, commissions and associations embrace this vision and participate as members of the Body of Christ. As we embark on this journey, let our prayer be that each of us, endowed with special and unique gifts from God, contributes to our Family of Parishes’ vitality and success. In this way, we cooperate in the leadership conferred on St. Peter by Jesus Himself at the Church’s dawn.

This article appeared in the May 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.


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