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 Pastoral Associates: Developing a Position Description

The following is offered to assist Pastors in identifying both the general and specific elements of a Pastoral Associate’s job description. A job or position description should include both general and specific responsibilities. General Pastoral Ministry Responsibilities constitute those tasks expected of all Pastoral Associates. The listing of Possible Specific Pastoral Responsibilities outlines other areas of pastoral responsibility, which may be designated as the Pastoral Associate’s specific responsibility according to local need.

A. General Pastoral Ministry Responsibilities Essential to a Job Description

  • Collaborate closely with the Pastor and with other members of the Parish Staff in the overall pastoral ministry of the parish
  • Collaborate in the overall process of parish administration including: assessing needs, pastoral planning, decision-making, implementation, and budget management
  • Foster the faith life of the parish community
  • Act as director or coordinator of one or more of the parish ministries/programs as agreed upon by mutual negotiation (Some of the possible ministries or programs are listed under the heading “Specific Pastoral Responsibilities”)
  • Participate in the recruitment, training, formation, supervision and empowering of others
  • Are present at important parish gatherings, liturgies and social functions
  • Are available to parishioners and for parish projects
  • Assist persons in crisis
  • Cooperate with and resource Parish Committees; serve as ex officio members of the Pastoral Council, Finance committee
  • Demonstrate an interest in the initiation of new members to the parish community and in the process of evangelization and renewal
  • Relate to deanery, regional, diocesan and ecumenical structures as appropriate
  • Assist in the promotion of Catholic social justice principles and the development of social consciousness among staff and parishioners

B. Possible Specific Pastoral Responsibilities that May Be Used to Develop a Job Description

The role of Pastoral Associate may vary according to the individual’s particular gifts/skills, with respect for the gifts and skills of other team/staff members, and the needs of the parish. Therefore, s/he might be involved in a number of the specific ministries listed below. When negotiating specific responsibilities, however, the Pastor along with the Pastoral Associate must determine that the Pastoral Associate has the appropriate skills and competencies for these responsibilities.

1. Ministry of Worship/Spiritual Life

Pastoral Associates:

  • Develop and facilitate a Parish Liturgy Committee for the purpose of planning Sunday and seasonal parish liturgies
  • Work cooperatively with the Parish Music Director in planning music for liturgy
  • Coordinate and provide training for parish liturgical ministries; i.e., Lectors, Altar Servers, Eucharistic Ministers
  • Assist in the preparation of individuals for the reception of the sacraments
  • Assist in planning parish sacramental service
  • Lead communal prayers, communion services, wake services and ecumenical gatherings when needed and liturgically appropriate

2. Ministry of Education/Formation

Pastoral Associates:

  • Provide spiritual direction and pastoral counseling.
  • Oversee the Christian Initiation process, including recruitment and formation of team members
  • Develop or assist with parish retreats
  • Coordinate family life ministry
  • Provide for adult faith formation programs
  • Provide for small faith communities
  • Coordinate young adult program
  • Coordinate parish sacramental programs
  • Collaborate with the Director/Coordinator of Religious Education, School Principal and Coordinator of Youth Ministry in assisting with ministry to adult, youth and children
  • Assist in providing staff development, education and enrichment

3. Ministry of Pastoral Care

Pastoral Associates:

  • Act as a liaison with Canonical Services for couples with regard to marriage or annulment procedures
  • Develop/assist support groups for the widowed, grieving, separated and divorced, or makes referrals to outside groups to provide these services
  • Network with local community resources
  • Coordinate the ministry of care program
  • Provide pastoral care to people in need
  • Help fulfill the pastoral needs of homebound, hospitalized, and nursing home patients
  • Assist the Pastor or Pastoral Coordinator in developing social consciousness among the staff and parishioners and respond to the needs of the poor and victimized, local, national, global

4. Ministry of Administration/Management

Pastoral Associates:

  • Supervise auxiliary personnel
  • Supervise maintenance of parish records
  • Coordinate the parish census
  • Help with the preparation of the annual budget

At the Archbishop’s discretion and in dialogue with the parish community, a Pastoral Associate may function as the primary pastoral minister.

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