The mission of the parish pastoral council is the same mission as that of the parish and of the Church itself: to spread the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. In other words, its mission is evangelization.
Did it seem strange or redundant that Bishop Donoghue should proclaim some time ago that the decade of the nineties would be the “Decade of Evangelization” for the Catholic Church in Western North Carolina? Perhaps you thought, “Isn’t that what we’ve been about and what we are to be about at all times? Why specify the nineties?”
The bishop was not implying that people have not been living their faith nor that they have been unconcerned about passing on the Good News to others. But we all need a “shot in the arm” occasionally in any effort so that we do not grow weary or discouraged along the way. As a matter of fact, at the Diocesan Synod of 1986-87, the people of the diocese asked for such a “shot in the arm” when they requested that renewal be a major thrust in the spiritual goals established by that synod. The Bishop’s response to that request was the renewal process or “Blue Book” as we sometimes refer to it. This outlines the steps to be used in the renewal and evangelization efforts of each parish. Every pastor, in fact every priest in the diocese, and every parish pastoral council chairperson has been given a copy of that book. The process includes the possibility of each parish selecting a renewal program that fits its particular needs.
In order to carry out the process, the Bishop asked that parish councils begin to understand themselves and their role in a new light. In order that they, with their pastors, can become the leaders in the parish for bringing about that renewal and evangelization thrust, they are to concentrate on becoming a prayerful, reflective body discerning together the spiritual and pastoral needs of the people in the parish and in a spirit of good stewardship, plan the goals of the parish accordingly.
Since we cannot pass on something that we do not have, it is urgent that the pastoral council members themselves be prayerful people with a lively faith and a desire to share that faith with others. Thus, parish pastoral council members have responsibility themselves to grow spiritually.
Bishop Donoghue also promised to give help to the parish pastoral councils in their evangelization efforts. Workshops and retreats are available to them through the Diocesan Office of Planning. Helps for evangelization are also available from the Diocesan Office of Evangelization.