What is a Pastoral Area?
A pastoral area is a group of neighbouring parishes which, in a spirit of mutual support and encouragement, work together in response to the pastoral needs of the area.
What is the Area Pastoral Council?
It is made up of priests and representatives from each parish within the pastoral area. Led by the Vicar Forane, this group works in partnership in the care of their communities in response to today’s needs. They enable new developments to take place at local level, by discussing the needs of member parishes and possible ways of working together to respond to those needs.
Each APC will appoint a chairperson and a secretary. Meetings will be held on a regular basis. It is the task of the APC to identify the needs of the pastoral area and to draw up a plan to respond to those needs, informed by the diocesan vision and pastoral plan. The area pastoral council is also a forum for sharing information, organising shared training and events and supporting parishes.
Who are the members of the APC?
The Area Pastoral Council consists of the Vicar Forane for the pastoral area, each of the priests of the member parishes and 2-3 lay representatives of pastoral councils from each of the member parishes.
Who is the Vicar Forane?
In each pastoral area, a priest is appointed as Vicar Forane by the Bishop. He acts on behalf of the Bishop by exercising responsibility for certain aspects of the pastoral life of the pastoral area. He provides leadership and ensures that meetings of the area pastoral council take place.
Working with the Area Pastoral Council, his role is to co-ordinate the pastoral activity of the parishes. The Vicar Forane is assisted in his role by all in the pastoral area, each sharing her or his gifts and wisdom for the good of the whole group. He shares responsibility with the other priests of the pastoral area for the parishes of the area.
The Vicar Forane seeks to ensure that the priests of the pastoral area meet regularly; he will show concern for the well-being of the clergy within his area, encouraging social interaction and mutual support; and particularly supporting those who are ill .
How a pastoral area relates to the diocese?
The bishop appoints a Vicar Forane with responsibility for the co-ordination of the work of the pastoral area. On a regular basis, the bishop and Vicars Forane will meet. The work of the pastoral area will be supported by the work of the diocesan pastoral council and the diocesan pastoral team.
What happens when a parish is without a resident priest?
In the event of a parish being without a resident priest, the Vicar Forane will be appointed as administrator for this parish. All priests within the pastoral area will have responsibility for the pastoral needs of this parish. The Vicar Forane co-ordinates the pastoral activity for this parish. The parish retains its identity.