The five parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Gary cooperate to ensure that the Church in Gary is both viable and vibrant and thus able to meet the spiritual needs of the community. It also aspires to exert a positive influence on decision-makers and institutions in the City of Gary, thereby improving the community’s overall quality of life. This mission is accomplished at three levels:
· One, through a shared commission structure;
· Two, through cooperative initiatives undertaken by the pastoral councils of the five member parishes;
· Three, through the joint efforts of the pastors and laity of Holy Angels Cathedral, Holy Rosary Parish, St. Mark Parish, St. Mary of the Lake Parish, and SS. Monica & Luke Parish.
The five parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Gary have adopted the following objectives with respect to their cluster-level activities:
· The development of a common vision for the Catholic Community of Gary;
· The development of strategies and decision-making structures through which various administrative and pastoral challenges can be met;
· The projection of a hopeful and influential voice in the Diocese of Gary;
· The projection of a positive and influential voice in the broader community on issues of concern to the faith community; and
· The development of a viable model for other parishes seeking to enter into cluster relationships.
In pursuing these objectives, the several commissions in which the cluster-level activities of the Catholic Community of Gary are conducted aspire to be viewed as effective partners to the pastoral councils of the five parishes that make up the cluster.
I. Pastoral Councils
In keeping with the Diocese of Gary's Manual for Pastoral Councils, pastoral councils are in place in each of the five participating parishes.
Parish councils, the governance structure that preceded the concept of the pastoral council, were primarily concerned with the "nuts and bolts" of parish business. They focused on the business of "temporal affairs of the parish." In contrast, pastoral councils apply themselves to "visioning and planning." In pursuing these activities, pastoral councils collaborate with their pastors.
In the Catholic Community of Gary, as in the case elsewhere in the Diocese of Gary, pastoral councils are organized at the parish level.
Commissions are generally organized at the parish level. A commission serves as a "working arm" of the parish's pastoral council. In performing this task, commissions serve to broaden the representation and participation of parishioners in the life of the Church, generally, and the parish, more specifically.
Five distinct kinds of commissions are authorized. They focus respectively on Catholic education, spirituality/ worship, peace/social justice, parish life, and stewardship/administration.
In order to promote collaboration and the most effective use of available resources, the Catholic Community of Gary, chooses to organize its five commissions at the cluster level rather than at the parish level. Decisions made in commissions are, nevertheless, subordinate to the parish-level pastoral councils from which their membership may be drawn.
The Catholic Education Commission fosters communication and collaboration among various educational entities and stakeholders. More specifically it:
|Identifies the needs of cluster parishes pertaining to education and faith formation;|
|Assists in the development of a comprehensive approach to education programs and initiatives for all members of the Catholic Community of Gary;|
|Develops and recommends policies pertaining to education and faith formation to the pastoral councils of the participating parishes in a manner that is consistent with Diocesan policies and guidelines and the Vatican II Documents and Pastorals on education and faith formation; and|
|Facilitates communications and the coordination of education and faith formation programs among the five participating parishes.|
The commission engages the following stakeholders in developing and pursuing recommendations and programs pertaining to education and faith formation: the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools and Office of Religious Formation; the pastors and pastoral councils of the participating parishes; the principals of all Catholic schools located within the cluster; and the directors of religious education in the participating parishes.
The Parish Life Commission fosters the development of a sense of community within parishes and among the five parishes participating as members of the Catholic Community of Gary. More specifically it:
|Evaluates current programs that contribute to parish life;|
|Develops strategies that contribute to a sense of belonging within parishes and among the five participating parishes;|
|Ensures that programs are in place to welcome new members;|
|Develops and promotes programs on family life (e.g. parenting, parent-child relationships, etc.) that are consistent with Church teachings;|
|Develops and promotes programs for the divorced, the handicapped, grieving individuals, single parents, and single parishioners;|
|Coordinates visitation programs for shut-ins;|
|Develops and promotes programs targeted to youth;|
|Develops and promotes social events; and|
|In cooperation with the Stewardship Commission, develops and maintains databases of active and potential volunteers.|
In performing its work, the Commission engages the Youth Ministry Office and other Diocesan offices, and the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes in developing and pursuing recommendations and programs pertaining to parish life.
The Peace and Social Justice Commission promotes and defends the dignity of every human being. It has a three-fold purpose: one, to help individuals understand that peace and social justice are essential to the Gospel message and flow from the Eucharist; two, to promote acceptance of the view that the pursuit of peace and social justice is the work of the entire parish and the Catholic Community of Gary; and three to engender a broader recognition of the need to promote peace and social justice locally, at the state level, nationally, and internationally. More specifically, the Peace and Social Justice Commission:
|Engenders a working knowledge of Church documents pertaining to peace and social justice.|
|Promotes an awareness of the need for peace and social justice;|
|Empowers parishioners individually and collectively to advocate for positive change; and|
|Encourages and pursues collaborations that promote peace and social justice.|
In pursuing these tasks, the Commission collaborates with the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes.
On behalf of the five parishes participating in the Catholic Community of Gary, the Spirituality and Worship Commission pursues the vision of the Church as represented in her Liturgical Documents as well as Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes. More specifically, it:
|Engenders a working knowledge of these foundational documents;|
|Promotes a shared understanding of historical and current practices of worship in each of the cluster's participating parishes;|
|Evaluates worship and spiritual practices in the participating parishes; and|
|Fosters vocations to the priesthood, religious life, the permanent deaconate, and various lay ministries.|
The Commission engages the Diocesan Office of Worship, and the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes in developing and pursuing recommendations and programs pertaining to spirituality and worship.
The Stewardship/Administration Commission promotes stewardship, that is, the marshaling of the time, talent, and treasure in a manner that is consistent with our understanding of our individual and shared relationships with God. More specifically, it:
|Promotes the biblical concept of stewardship;|
|Develops and promotes processes that help parishioners discern their gifts and talents and how they might contribute to the vitality of their individual parishes, the Catholic Community of Gary, and the Church as a whole;|
|Develops and administers stewardship programs pertaining to time, talent, and treasure;|
|Collaborates with the Parish Life Commission in developing hospitality programs;|
|Evaluates current stewardship programs;|
|Assists pastoral councils in evaluating facility needs and in developing proposals pertaining to facilities; and|
|Assists pastoral councils in evaluating ground and facility maintenance programs.|
In pursuing these tasks, the Commission collaborates with the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes.
IV. Commission Member Appointments
1. The Pastoral Councils of the five parishes participating in the Catholic Community of Gary will each appoint one member to serve on each of the five commissions maintained jointly by the cluster. Additionally, an alternate will be appointed to each commission from among the members of the pastoral council.
No one member of a pastoral council may serve on more than one cluster-level commission. A pastoral council may appoint up to two additional parishioners to serve on one or more cluster-level commissions, however.
2. Pastoral councils will choose members of cluster-level commissions through consensus conducted in the context of discernment.
3. Pastoral councils will make appointments to cluster-level commissions in November of each year. The appointments will be effective in the following January and will last for a period of one year.
Members of pastoral councils will become eligible for appointment to a cluster-level commission after one year of service on the pastoral council.
Although members of cluster-level commissions should agree to serve minimum terms of one full year, an appointment may be rescinded by a pastoral council.
There is no limit to the number of terms that a member of a cluster-level commission may serve. However, the service of an appointee who is serving in his or her capacity as a member of a pastoral council is limited to his or her term of service on the pastoral council.
4. Each commission will choose a lay co-chair from among its members through consensus.
A pastor from one of the five participating parishes will serve as a co-chair of each commission as well. The pastors will decide who from among them serves on each commission.
V. Commission Member Responsibilities
1. Commission members are expected to attend commission meetings on a regular basis. They are also expected to participate actively and positively in the deliberations of their respective commissions.
If a member cannot attend a commission meeting, it is his or her responsibility to ensure that the designated alternate performs this task.
2. Commission members are expected to follow through on all commitments that they make toward the achievement of the commission's objectives.
3. Commission members are expected to maintain a cluster-level perspective in their deliberations. At the same time, they should share parish-level perspectives with their fellow commission members.
4. Commission members are expected to keep their pastoral councils apprised of all relevant cluster-level activities. To this end, they should provide regular reports on cluster-level activities. Further, they should actively solicit input from members of their pastoral councils. Finally, they should represent a cluster-level perspective in the deliberations of their pastoral councils when it is appropriate to do so.
VI. Governing Style
1. The deliberations of cluster-level commissions will reflect a spirit of collegiality. Members will reflect a cluster-level perspective in their deliberations.
2. Conflict and differences in perspective will be forthrightly acknowledged. Individual members will aspire to achieve a more complete understanding of differing points of view through active listening and the full exploration of alternatives.
3. Commission-level decision-making strategies will be based on consensus achieved in the context of discernment (i.e., the sense that a particular course of action is consistent with God's word to the community at this particular point in time).
VII. Commission Meeting: Schedules and Agendas
1. All cluster-level commissions will meet monthly. Meetings will be conducted concurrently at Holy Angels Cathedral. A meeting schedule for the upcoming year will be developed by the Cluster Advisory Council for presentation to all pastoral councils and cluster-level commissions in November.
2. Cluster meetings will generally adhere to the following agenda or schedule of activities:
|A community prayer involving members of all cluster-level commissions;|
|A brief report from each member on the status of commission-relevant activities taking place in his or her parish, together with feedback and input provided by the member's pastoral council;|
|A review of the status of all items on the commission's current work plan;|
|A summary of information that should be shared with and requests for action that should be presented to each member's pastoral council, together with a recap of all commitments to be pursued or accomplished over the course of the next month; and|
|A closing prayer|
A summary of each commission's deliberations will be shared with the cluster coordinator. The summary will be organized in a manner that reflects the above agenda.
3. The substantive portion of commission meetings in January will be devoted to the development of annual work plans.
4. The cluster-level meeting in November will be conducted concurrently with the pastoral councils of the five parishes that make up the Catholic Community of Gary. A retreat format will be employed in this meeting. The agenda will be developed by the Cluster Advisory Council. At a minimum, it will include:
|A reflection activity; and|
|A formal evaluation of each commission's work plans for the preceding year.|
VIII. Commission Work Plans
1. In November of each year, each commission will conduct a formal evaluation of its work over the course of the preceding year. This process will be based on theological reflection and will draw on the work of the Holy Spirit.
The evaluation will include the following:
|An assessment of the extent to which each action item established in the prior work plan was accomplished;|
|A listing of all other activities under the purview of the commission that were undertaken over the course of the preceding year at both the parish level and the cluster level;|
|An assessment of the commission's relationships with key stakeholders, including pertinent Diocesan offices, and the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes; and|
|An assessment of the commission's performance as a decision-making and recommending body.|
The evaluation will documented in a memoranda format and will be shared with the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes.
2. In January of each year, each commission will develop an annual work plan. Again, this process will be based on theological reflection and draw on the work of the Holy Spirit.
The following materials will be used in developing the work plan:
|The prior work plan;|
|The evaluation of the prior work plan;|
|A review of diocesan initiatives pertaining to the commission;|
|Input solicited from the pastors of the five participating parishes; and|
|Input solicited from the pastoral councils of the five participating parishes.|
The work plan will be documented in a memoranda format and will be shared with the pastors and pastoral councils of the five participating parishes. Each work plan will include the following elements:
|A description of all initiatives and activities to be carried over from the preceding year; and|
|A description of each new action item and its anticipated contribution to the overall objectives of the commission and/or the five parishes included in the Catholic Community of Gary.|
The work plan will serve as the basis for monthly commission meeting agendas.
IX. Commission Memoranda-Of-Understanding
This document describes the process by which pastoral councils will authorize collective action undertaken by the commissions established cooperatively in the Catholic Community.
1. The five commissions established collectively in the Catholic Community of Gary serve two functions: one, they develop and make recommendations to the pastoral councils of the five parishes participating in the cluster; and two, with the approval of the pastoral councils, they implement programs at the cluster level. The activities undertaken by the five commissions are thus subject to the approval of the pastoral councils.
2. Commissions will draft any recommendations that require action in the form of memoranda-of-understanding. Each memoranda-of-understanding will include the following elements:
|A brief description of the initiative or action;|
|A delineation of each party's responsibilities (e.g. parish, commission, Diocesan Office, etc.)|
|The duration of the agreement;|
|Signatures and dates.|
3. All memoranda-of-understanding of this nature will be submitted to the pastoral councils of the five participating parishes for review.
4. Decisions made by individual pastoral councils will not be binding on each other. Individual parishes may choose to participate or not participate in any particular initiative.
In light of their shared commitment to the Catholic Community of Gary, however, pastoral councils will fully consider the counsel provided by the pastoral councils of the other participating parishes.
5. The approval of at least three pastoral councils will be required in order for a recommendation to be recognized as a cluster-level initiative.
X. Cluster Advisory Council
1. The Cluster Advisory Council consists of the co-chairs of the five commissions established collectively by the Catholic Community of Gary.
2. The Cluster Advisory Council is not an advisory or decision-making body as such. Its specific responsibilities include the following:
|It monitors the overall performance of the cluster commissions.|
|It monitors the relationships that are shared by the five commissions and the five pastoral councils.|
|It monitors the relationships that are shared by the five commissions and pertinent Diocesan offices.|
|It identifies, engages, and develops potential leaders to serve on commissions.|
|In November of each year, it plans and hosts a retreat for all pastoral council members and all members of the five cluster commissions. Each retreat will include opportunities both for reflection and planning.|
|It schedules cluster-level commission meetings.|
|It provides feedback and input to the pastor who supervises the cluster coordinator regarding the performance of cluster-level activities.|
3. In keeping with its mission, meetings of the Cluster Advisory Council will be informal in nature.
The Cluster Advisory Council will meet at least quarterly.
Copyright 2007 Gary Cluster Parishes All Rights Reserved
Last Modified: 08/02/2007 08:14 PM -0400