By: Fr Tom Grufferty
How to survive working in a Catholic Parish - By Diana Klein and Bernard Cotter - Redemptorist Publications £12.95
This is a guide for everyone involved in Parish life, and as you would expect everyone's role is discussed. From my reading of the book I would suggest that both authors set out with the laity as the primary focus of attention.
Every ministry in Parish Life is explained in a clear and succinct way. Volunteers get worthy mention for they are the backbone of every successful parish. They have a right by virtue of their Baptismal calling to grow the mission of the Church in a given area.
There is a section on whether a Parish is a territory or a community but I find the idea of community has to dominate. In a vibrant community there can be as many as 80 volunteers many of whom are engaged in the variety of ministries.
Many lay people will be surprised to discover that "to be a Christian is to be a minister". There is another chapter on "everyone is wanted and needed". These two themes get special treatment in the book and I think the contents are the heart of lay involvement in Parish life today. The book recommends that for every ministry in the Parish there should be a job description which would help the community and the individual concerned.
There is a great chapter on Parish Employees. There are a growing number of paid employees in Parish life. Many of these are well trained and highly competent. I have personal experience where the Lay Pastoral Assistant can initiate a wide range activities to motivate fellow lay people and clergy alike. There is guidance on how to advertise the job with clear guidelines on what is required.
This book is really useful for priests on what is potentially possible in any given parish. It could become a blue print for all pastoral activity. I am going to give a copy to every member of our Pastoral Council as a gauge on how we might make every Christian in our community a minister.
Fr Tom Grufferty is parish priest at Immaculate Conception & St Joseph's, Christchurch - www.avonstourpastoralarea.org.