Pastoral administrators become parish life facilitators

CHARLESTON — What’s in a name? Pastoral administrators will find out now that their titles have changed to meet specifics of recent Vatican directives and the Code of Canon Law to better reflect their ministry. The new title is parish life facilitator.

The change was established and developed by Bishop Robert J. Baker and a special committee comprised of priests, religious, and pastoral administrators.

Parish life facilitators are assigned by the bishop to establish and nurture a Catholic presence and work collaboratively in the pastoral, spiritual and administrative care of a parish.

Msgr. Joseph R. Roth, co-vicar general of the diocese and a member of the ad hoc committee, said that a priest moderator/canonical pastor is assigned to any parish ministered to by a parish life facilitator.

“The Code of Canon law requires pastoral oversight with each parish, and the parish life facilitator will be working in coordination with that particular priest,” he explained. “They will be doing what they are doing now, but in coordination with their canonical pastor. This will bring us more in accord with the mind of the church and allow for greater service to God’s people.”

Msgr. Christopher Lathem, vicar for clergy, and Sister Mary Laura Lesniak, parish life facilitator of Holy Spirit Mission in Laurens, served as co-chairpersons on the committee.

Msgr. Lathem said the intent of the new format allows for clarity of roles that should provide increased collaboration in ministry to the people of a parish where there currently is no full-time pastor.

“The committee spent long hours redefining those working relationships so that the requirements of Canon Law and the needs of the people would be met most effectively,” he said.

Bishop Baker has been very impressed with the great work being done by deacons and men and women religious to fill the void impacted by the priest shortage.

“The church simply would not bring the presence of Christ to certain areas of our state,” he said, “without the great ministry of these dedicated women and men. Our priests are not blessed with the gift of bilocation and are already overworked.

“The close collaboration of these co-workers in service enables us to carry on the work of the Gospel,” the bishop added,” and the new name best reflects the type of caring service they bring.”