BY A STAFF REPORTER REVIVAL of the deanery as an active mission centre — a living link between parish and district — could emerge from the work of the new Pastoral Council, set up for the Westminster Archdiocese.
Delegates from deaneries and lay societies will serve on the Council with other clergy, and with men and women religious. Its first meeting, called for April 26, will tackle the theme: "The Mission of the Church in Westminster." Other commissions within the diocese will contribute reports on their work.
In addition to co-ordinating the work of other bodies, the new Council could give the laity a direct. though consultative, share in major decisions.
The idea came from Cardinal Heenan in a meeting of the Westminster Council of Priests. Four priests formed an ad hoc committee and, with the help of five lay advisers, submitted a report. The new Pastoral Council is the result.
FOCAL POINT The committee's secretary, Fr. Christopher Laughton Mathews. told the CATHOLIC HERALD this week that the Council's task will he to help and advise the Cardinal.
The deanery, he said, could could be a focal point for action calling for joint effort by parishes on a district level. Within the Church this could apply to questions like the siting of schools. In "outward" terms the deanery might contribute to the solution of a district housing problem. It would supply a link for local parish councils.
All such activity could be fostered by the Pastoral Council, acting as an interdeanery forum. While it will concern itself with apostolic and social action, it will also brine to light the spiritual problems met by the parish clergy in their pastoral work. The Council, it is hoped, would plan to meet these special local needs in a coordinated way.
The deanery is a groun of parishes in a district, with a senior parish priest acting as dean — at present a kind of chairman. in recent times the deanery has simply provided a chance for local clergy to meet for discussion.
DEANERY ACTION Authorities on the modern parish problem have been suggesting for a number of years now that the increasing number of pastoral problems which "escape" the parish organisation could be met by deanery action.
Eventually, they argue, deans
might become auxiliary bishops, thus bringing the local Church into direct contact with the fullness of the priesthood and stressing the presence of the universal Church in each locale.