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Online Book Reviews

  • Great Catholic Parishes.   William E. Simon, Jr., Great Catholic Parishes: A Living Mosaic: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2016), ISBN-13: 978-1-59471-417-7. 178 pages + 10 pages of appendices, 10 pages of notes, and 4 pages of bibliography, for a total of 202 pages. $17.95.
  • Strategic Planning.  Dan R. Ebener and Frederick L. Smith, Strategic Planning: An Interactive Process for Leaders (New York and Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2015), 129 pages.  ISBN 978-0-8091-4920-9.  $14.95.  William L. Pickett, Concise Guide to Pastoral Planning (Notre Dame: Ave Maria, 2007), 256 pages.  ISBN 1594711356. $16.95.
  • Divine Renovation.  Fr. James Mallon, Divine Renovation: Bringing Your Parish from Maintenance to Mission (New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2014). 286 pages. $19.95. ISBN 978-1-62785-038-4
  • Rebuilt.  Michael White and Tom Corcoran, Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Parish: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, Making Church Matter, Foreword by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan (Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2013).


Pastors and councillors who want to improve their work can benefit from a free online Introduction to Parish Pastoral Councils.  It offers an overview of the Church’s teaching about councils, with lectures, quizzes, readings, and reflections. Councillors who take the course individually at home can then discuss what they learned when they reassemble for the next meeting of the council.  Click here for PowerPoints about the purpose of councils and the relation between pastors and councillors. Covering the same material as the online course, it is suitable for orienting new members or refreshing the knowledge of veterans.

2 Responses to Discussion

  1. Dr. Charlie Judice says:

    I am trying to organize a forum of current and past Parish Council presidents. I am currently president of the Parish Advisory Council at San Sebastian Catholic Parish in the Diocese of St Augustine. The Diocese has no record of the current or past Council presidents and there is little info on the parish websites. My goal is to see what we can do to address the current crisis.
    Considering that Parish Councils have been around for 50 years, I suspect that many knew or at least suspected the disgusting behavior of some of the priests in Pennsylvania. So I believe we are as much at fault as the bishops who covered up this activity.

  2. Mark F. Fischer says:

    Thanks for sending me your thoughts about the sexual abuse crisis and parish pastoral councils. You wrote, “My goal is to see what we can do to address the current crisis.” I’d start by talking with your pastor. What kind of thought has he given to reassuring the congregation in the wake of the newest revelations? How would he like the pastoral council to study the matter, reflect on it, and recommend a plan of action?

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