Final Phase

Final PhaseThe Resource is in its final phases, with a complete copy being viewed by the Australian Catholic Bishops at their next gathering in May for final sign off.

The following offers a summary of the document:

  1. Purpose

This document, Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace, has been prepared to provide a comprehensive understanding of lay pastoral ministry in Australia. In addition, it seeks to provide guidelines for how to further develop lay pastoral ministry in the Australian Church.

  1. Data gathering

In preparing the document, the Australian Catholic Council for Lay Pastoral Ministry conducted a qualitative survey among Catholic dioceses in Australia to obtain a general understanding of the national landscape of lay pastoral ministry. This was followed by a more in-depth study, involving case studies from diverse pastoral settings across Australia by the Christian Research Association in 2015.

  1. Chapter Overview

Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace comprises five chapters:

Chapter One: Past and Present Reality

  • Provides an overview of the development of lay pastoral ministry in Australia from 1788 to the present.
  • Identifies five key areas of renewal of ministries for lay people that resulted from Vatican II (Catholic Education, lay organisations, ministry in the ecclesial community, adult religious education and lay formation movements).

Chapter Two: A Complex Landscape

  • Explores the complexity surrounding the titles and terms used for people serving in lay pastoral ministry along with the varying expectations that are held of the role
  • Articulates the challenges in the working life of the lay pastoral minister and explores the importance of developing the role and the impact of professionalisation and attitudinal change on the role of the lay pastoral minister.

Chapter Three: Theology of Lay Pastoral Ministry

  • The place of lay pastoral ministry within the common vocation of discipleship is discussed along with how it relates to other forms of ministry.
  • The foundations of lay pastoral ministry in theology and Church teaching are explored and the ministry is situated as ‘a participation in Jesus Christ's own ministry as the Good Shepherd’ (cf. Jn 10:11), and as ‘the humble servant who gives himself without reserve for the salvation of all.’ (cf. Mk 10:45).”

Chapter Four: The Practice of Lay Pastoral Ministry

  • Chapter Four outlines a process of authorisation for lay pastoral ministry in the hope of ensuring that those who are appointed to lay pastoral ministry roles have appropriate education, formation and experience as well as ecclesial recognition and the support of appropriate diocesan structures.

Chapter Five: Recommendations

Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace proposes several recommendations that will enable a shared vision to be fulfilled in practice around five areas:

  • Affirming and Celebrating Lay Pastoral Ministry
  • Developing Formal Structures to Support the Work of Lay Pastoral Ministers
  • Implementing Best Practices in relation to lay pastoral ministers and Volunteer Workers
  • Strengthening Formation and Training for Lay Pastoral Ministry
  • Building Networks and Sharing Resources.