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Australia: priest describes lay-centred parish strategy

 The starting point for parish planning should be the Eucharist and the giftedness of the local community, rather than infrastructure, an Australian priest said this week. Fr John Dobson, parish priest of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, has worked on a pastoral planning strategy that enabled him to develop and sustain 11 churches. Fr Dobson said the initiating point for action was the community instead of the priest. It was a model that maximises lay leadership and places the priesthood in much clearer focus, with the priest not having to concentrate on areas such as administration. "These churches, with an active lay leadership, have their own pastoral infrastructure, with their own mission and outreach," he said. "We are using a model that journeys from a temple model of Church to an upper room model of Church. "The starting point in this planning model does not begin with structure and organisation, but rather as Paul did at Corinth, builds the community on the giftedness of the people in the community. "Paul could then tell the Corinthian people: 'you are many parts that make up the one body that is Christ'." Fr Dobson was the keynote speaker at a recent conference at Harrietville, with 60 people attending from the Victorian Diocese of Sandhurst. He said the significance and effectiveness of the strategy was that its starting point was the Eucharist and the local community, "and moves to energise local communities to become more responsible for them being Church". Source: Church Resources