By Barb Arland-Fye
IOWA CITY — The Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) will undergo restructuring to enhance its connection to the people of the Davenport Diocese. Restructuring, topics for future meetings and the role and placement of permanent deacons in parishes were primary topics of the DPC’s meeting Oct. 20 in St. Patrick’s Parish Hall.
An advisory board to Bishop Martin Amos, the DPC acts as the authentic representative voice of the people of the diocese to their bishop and serves as a forum for open communication throughout the diocese. The DPC aims to initiate and support with Bishop Amos positive action for the common good of the Church, of other religious bodies and the civil community.
Currently, DPC membership is comprised of two lay people from each of the diocese’s six deaneries; one representative each from the parish life coordinators, Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee, the Liturgical Commission, Social Action Commission, Stewardship Commission; and a lay member of the Diocesan Corporate Board or Finance Council. Ex-officio members are the bishop, vicar general and one representative each from the Presybteral Council, Deacon Council and Sisters’ Consortium.
Council members review recommendations of all other diocesan collegial bodies and, while honoring the principle of subsidiarity, submit to the bishop recommendations which substantially affect diocesan goals and priorities.
During the Oct. 20 meeting, Bishop Amos asked DPC members whether the existing structure of the council is effective in meeting its purpose. Members indicated that they needed to be more connected to the people of the diocese. If members represented a given number of parishes, they could better elicit responses to given topics.
“The thought was that it is important to have lay membership from throughout the diocese and that it be proportionate membership based on the size of deaneries and parishes,” Vicar General Msgr. John Hyland said. “In addition, the bishop could appoint members from any diocesan committee or commission as he deemed necessary.”
A committee of Patti McTaggart, Ted Taylor and Sister Laura Goedken, OP, will create a list of parish clusters to better facilitate communication from parishioners to the DPC.
Bishop Amos then presented a list of suggested topics for future DPC meetings and asked whether members had other topics to add. Topics selected for the next couple meetings address these questions: What concrete initiatives can we undertake to bring people back to Church? What can we do to make our parishes more welcoming? Each DPC member will study the specific topic with parishioners and bring ideas and suggestions to meetings.
Deacon David Montgomery, director of the Diaconate, shared statistical information about the diocese’s deacons with the DPC to help them in their planning efforts. Currently the diocese has 41 active deacons with assignments and 10 retired deacons. Deacon Montgomery noted that Bishop Amos anticipates ordaining 12 men as deacons next summer. Most often a deacon is placed in his home parish. With this model, some parishes could have several deacons while other parishes have none. Bishop Amos asked the DPC for its thoughts on this model.
One DPC member said having a deacon in a parish serves as a good example for other parishioners. Members generally agreed that it would be good to share deacons with other parishes, provided those parishes are within a reasonable drive of the deacon’s home parish.
The next DPC meeting is Jan. 26.