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November 22, 2019
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November 22, 2019

Leadership in the Church

Brent Augustus, a parishioner from Diego Martin, concludes his commentary on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan. Part One appeared on this page in last Sunday’s issue.

On leadership in the Church my focus here is: –

  1. a) Priest and Parish Leadership: the differentiation between priestly responsibility and Pastoral Council responsibility within the parish community.
  2. b) Archdiocese Leadership—by way of example.

Priest and Parish Leadership

For avoidance of doubt, it is unquestionable the priest has responsibility for matters of Faith, Formation, Doctrine, Sacraments etc. (Church Teaching).

Within the operations of the parish, in most cases a parish priest is assigned to a cluster for a period until he moves on to another assignment. However, most of the parish community (who make up the Church) are here for their whole life.

In this context there appears to be a need for separation of decision making that allows the will of the parishioners to assent over the will of the parish priest in matters outside of the above identified Church teachings.

Legitimate concerns and matters raised by the Parish Council should be dealt with as a group preferably on a majority decision basis i.e., the parish priest cannot unilaterally, autocratically or dictatorially dismiss the will of the majority decision of the Parish Council.

This goes against the whole concept of stewardship—talent, time or money. Who sets priorities within the parish for the benefit of parishioners? Of course, the parish priest must prevent actions or veto decisions where there is corruption, undemocratic decisions, abuse etc.

Archdiocese Leadership

As expressed in the family section of Part 1 (November 17 issue), the family life experience begins at birth and ends at death i.e., baby to grandparent or great-grandparent.

It is my personal family experience that there is a total lack of direction from the Archdiocese in respect of the disposal or placement of ashes after death. Notwithstanding, we are clear on the fact that ashes should not be separated.

There is growing evidence to suggest that there are numerous Catholics who have retained at home the ashes of their loved ones (some with more than one) with absolutely no place of dignity to rest them. There may be many reasons but the two most common are—the family grave is full, or nobody knows who owns it.

St Finbar’s, Assumption, La Romaine (three examples) have given their parishioners an option. But what of the rest? And who designs and implements a Garden of Remembrance or similar?

Is it left to the autocratic decision of the parish priest who will be reassigned after five years or is it through the majority decision of the Parish Council via a suitably qualified and knowledgeable architect?

I believe it is incumbent on the Archdiocese to give clear and unequivocal direction on the Internment of Ashes. This is a shame on family life and sends the wrong message to all parishioners especially the very said younger generation. It is not good enough to tell enquiring laity, ‘Let’s pray about it and ask for inspiration’ when there is no action.

I hope my commentary provides some feedback that will be useful in assessing a way forward for our Archdiocese. We have shied away from the tough talk required on the above matters.

Let’s not leave it to prayer alone, it needs action.