Archdiocese offers parishes suggestions on synod

Throughout the fall, from September through November, the archdiocesan Office of Pastoral Planning and Ministries used the weekly NolaCatholic e-Bulletin – which is sent to all priests and parish offices – to offer suggestions on how parishes might implement the synod’s priorities and goals.

We also provided these suggestions to the permanent deacons and laypersons serving as their parish’s synod implementation coordinators.

As the year draws to a close, we have much for which to be thankful as our local church has followed the Holy Spirit to “Encounter Jesus and Witness with Joy,” which is the synod’s theme.

It takes everyone, not just parish leadership, to fulfill the synod’s vision. Perhaps there is something here with which you can help!

Here’s a list of those suggested action items parishes can take to further implement the synod:

  • Has a teenager and/or young adult been appointed to the parish Pastoral Council?
  • Have confession days and times been expanded beyond Saturday afternoons?
  • If your parish website is outdated or non-existent, have you taken advantage of the e-Catholic service offered through the Office of Communications?
  • Have the parish priests and deacons reviewed the homily resources sent to all clergy by the Office of Worship in spring 2017?
  • Has the parish social justice coordinator (and other collaborating parishioners) attended a training offered by Catholic Charities’ Office of Justice and Peace?
  • If lacking this, has the parish offered a new prayer group or Bible study program? Resources are available from the Office of Religious Education and the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center.
  • Has your parish marriage/family life ministry identified parishioners who could be trained as procurator advocates to help fellow parishioners with the annulment process?
  • Does your parish hold an annual event to celebrate the parish’s patron saint?
  • Has the parish family life coordinator (and other collaborating parishioners) attended a training offered by the Family Life Apostolate?
  • Have your music ministers joined the local chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians? Contact the Office of Worship for more information about this opportunity for resourcing for improving liturgical music.
  • Has there been an intentional effort to invite those received into the church through the RCIA into a parish ministry or service?
  • Does your parish have a parishioner serving as a disability advocate? If not, submit a name to the Office of Pastoral Planning to connect with the Commission on Persons with Disabilities.
  • Has your parish Respect Life coordinator taken advantage of the up-to-date resources provided each month by the archdiocesan Respect Life Office?
  • Has the parish vocations coordinator attended one of the past trainings offered by the Vocations Office? If not, the next round begins in January.
  • Have parish liturgical ministers participated in the annual Advent Morning of Reflection offered by the Office of Worship? (Others will be coming up in 2018.)
  • Has your parish made an intentional effort to reach out and minister to those who are divorced and to their families? The Family Life Apostolate has suggestions and resources to help.
  • As we prepare for Advent, has your parish considered contacting the Archdiocesan Spirituality Center to help you with your spiritual formation programs? You may reach them at 861-3254.
  • Has your parish made an effort to hold a multi-generational faith formation event? Advent presents a great opportunity for such a gathering. For ideas, contact the Office of Religious Education at 861-6270.
  • If your parish lacks a youth ministry, is a representative taking advantage of the regional youth ministry introduction sessions being offered by the CYO/Youth & Young Adult Ministry Office? Contact Cecilia Matherne at or 227-3221 for another copy of the schedule.
  • Have your parish and school catechists registered for the Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference? Is the parish financially supporting their attendance? Visit for more information.
  • Has your parish offered an opportunity to educate parishioners on the issue of human trafficking? Contact the Respect Life Office at 286-1119 for assistance.
  • Has your parish vocations ministry coordinator attended any of the past trainings offered by the Vocations Office? Resources for use in the parish were offered at these. Call the Vocations Office at 861-6298 with questions. The next round of meetings/trainings will begin in January.
  • Has your parish advertised the need for prison ministry volunteers? For promotional announcements and assistance, contact the Prison Ministry coordinator at 267-9727.
  • In the absence of a Perpetual Adoration Chapel, does your parish offer some standard days and times for eucharistic adoration?

John Smestad Jr. is executive director of pastoral planning and ministries for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He can be reached at

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