Pastoral Planning is a process by which a faith community −with a deep appreciation of its past and an understanding of its present strengths and weaknesses − seeks to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of people within, and beyond, the community.
In order to resolve particular pastoral issues, effective structures and processes are needed to facilitate communication and co-ordination, create opportunities for people to use their gifts and encourage all the baptised to participate in the life and mission of the local Church.
The Diocese of Maitland was established in 1847. For at least one hundred and twenty of those years, people were confident they understood what it meant to be a Catholic and felt their salvation rested in doing what the Church told them.
Today we are attempting to understand a new way of being Church. The Bishop, his fellow clergy and lay leaders are charged with working together as the People of God to become the face of God as revealed by Jesus Christ in today’s world. Together we strive to show our community what it means to be the Body of Christ and, individually, to make real the presence of God in our everyday encounters in whatever ministry we find ourselves.
In 1988, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle embarked upon a journey to formally embrace the spirit and teachings of Vatican II and to launch a Diocesan Pastoral Planning process that would irrevocably link pastoral planning in the diocese to the theological principles of Vatican II. This was to take place against the background of the Diocesan Synod of 1992-93.
Pastoral Planning is a tool used by the Bishop and the Council For Mission to involve the diocese in a process of evaluation, imagining and planning to help the community stay in touch with the changing circumstances of life and faith. In this way the mission of Christ entrusted to the people is constantly reviewed and re-visioned and its life and faith remain refreshing, enlivening and prophetic. Pastoral Planning is essential for the ongoing life and vitality of the church.