Click here to see the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.

The Catholic Bishop of Christchurch has released the Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Christchurch, the blueprint to see local Catholics into the coming decades of the 21st century. He has announced the appointment of a layperson, Michael Stopforth, until recently the Director of the Diocesan Youth Team, as his deputy to assist in implementing the plan.

In 1997 Bishop Cuneen brought together priests and lay people of his diocese to consider such challenges of the future in an initiative called Looking to the Future. The present Pastoral Plan has grown out of that process.

Broadly, the plan calls for a wider collaboration of the Church's resources. An idea from Looking to the Future, parish clustering, has been taken further with the creation of Pastoral Areas. Parishes within the Pastoral Areas will be asked to draw up a plan for their Pastoral Area for the collective and collaborative utilising of personnel, buildings and other resources for maximum effect. Church Agencies and Schools, too, will be asked to review their activities in the light of the Pastoral Plan. One change expected from the new strategy is that a Pastoral Area might decide to employ additional pastoral workers in education or sacramental programmes, and that workers would serve all the parishes and institutions in the area, rather than being based in one particular parish as at present.

This new Pastoral Plan puts the whole diocese under the microscope, analysing how many workers, both ordained and lay, are currently working in each area, and probable fall or rise in numbers that will be likely over the next decade or two. There are many different ministries that happen in parishes already and the Plan calls for a new look at these in Pastoral Areas, allowingplanners to see in detail what is happening in parishes, acknowledge realistically what is not happening and to allocate resources to meet current and anticipated needs.

The plan has at its core four keywords describing the vision underlying the plan:

  • Holiness not some rare quality reserved for heroic saints of the past, but a realistic and attainable characteristic of love of God and neighbour that must underpin the life and values of every Catholic.
  • Communio not a miss-spelling, but the name given to describe the communion given by God to be lived out among people as a family, committed as sisters and brothers, to each other.
  • Collaboration the realisation that the work of the Church is not the task of the ordained alone, but of all Catholics at the service of the Gospel together.
  • Mission the call to answer Christ's command to make disciples.

The plan calls on all Christchurch Catholics to pray for more diocesan priests, to commit to the aim that the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the Mass will continue to be available to Catholics throughout the area, to pray for guidance and enlightenment as the Church faces the challenges of the future, and for each person to play his and her part courageously.

Click here to see the Diocesan Pastoral Plan.