Pastoral Development

Supporting lay and pastoral ministry across the diocese
Pastoral Ministry Office website

About the Office for Pastoral Development

Bishop David is forming a new “Servant” vicariate for pastoral planning to respond to the Synod listening and diocesan Assembly, and to support synodality in the life of the diocese for communion, participation and mission.  The Pastoral Ministry Office and Office for Synod are now becoming the Office for Pastoral Development.  Fr Francis Higgins has been asked to be Episcopal Vicar for the Servant Vicariate, while Avril is becoming Director of Pastoral Planning.  We are grateful to have received funding for an additional role and will shortly begin recruiting for a full-time development worker.

Our Aims

  • To develop synodal structures of listening and discerning across the diocese, particularly through pastoral councils at diocesan, pastoral area and parish level
  • Through formation, to develop skills of listening and leadership together with opportunities for spiritual encounter, promoting the vocation of all the baptised.
  • To support parishes to be welcoming communities that are confident to reach beyond their walls.
  • To assist the diocese in the creation of a strategic plan, responding both to financial and demographic realities, but also to think creatively about the shape of mission in our rapidly changing world

Key activities

There are four main areas of work:

    1. Pastoral planning (synodal listening and discerning processes)
    2. Synodal governance – Diocesan Pastoral Council, PACs, synodal or mission councils in parishes
    3. Formation – development of ministry of listeners, formation in synodality, formation for leadership
    4. Parish life – creating parish visions, building community, hospitality, volunteering,
  1. Creation of synodal listening processes for local discernment and planning, starting in Aylesbury
  2. Review of key decision-making bodies, including Chapter, Trustees, Council of Priests, Council of Deacons, SLT to clarify roles and relationships, and so that they are as transparent and accountable as possible.
  3. Creation of Diocesan Pastoral Council with clear sense of purpose and responsibility.
  4. Creating a ministry of listening and accompaniment to support listening processes across the diocese
  5. “Re-imagining parish councils” programme for parishes – pilot starting after Easter
  6. Development of shared understanding of a ‘baseline’ of parish provision, and what ‘flourishing’ might look like
  7. Development of a shared understanding of and formation for servant leadership, for all clergy and laity in leadership roles, including pastoral council chairs, and those entering senior leadership positions.

Other Activities from Assembly Process

Some of the work of the Assembly will be taken on by other departments and groups, including:

  1. Exploring ways to bring young people’s voices into our conversations – Bishop David would like a youth council
  2. Promotion of women’s ministry and spirituality including supporting women’s vocation and exploring the new ministries of lector and acolyte
  3. More support for priests
  4. New programme of outreach to the marginalised, developing ways of doing this in parishes

Benefits of Synodal Approach

Becoming a synodal diocese ensures that all voices are heard, and that we all move forward together, led by the Holy Spirit.  On a practice level, it will enable us to:

  • Take decisions about buildings, finances and priestly provision from a strategic, missionary perspective
  • Enable local communities to develop a vision for their particular mission, and assign resources and finances accordingly
  • Raise standards across the diocese by establishing a baseline of parish provision
  • Engage the expertise and energy of our lay faithful
  • Support the clergy as we move into new forms of ministry (shared responsibility rather than personal burden)
  • Work together more effectively as curial offices

Extra Information

More information about our Assembly/Synod process: https://northamptondiocese.org/for-a-synodal-church/

Link to Vatican Synod pages: https://www.synod.va

Practical resources for synodality: https://www.schoolforsynodality.org.uk