Practical Pastoral guidelines

in the catholic diocese of orlu – Nigeria.

1. Pastoral visit to a parish begins at about 4.p.m on the Saturday unless pastoral needs necessitate a change.

Saturday Program may include but not restricted to these;
a. Visit to the traditional ruler
b. Visit to 2 or 3 bedridden parishioner
c. Visit to any other place according to the discretion of the parish priest. E.g out stations
d. Benediction at about 6.p.m.
e. Addressing the confirmation candidates
f. Meeting with the parish council

Sunday Program:
a. Open the chapel at 6: 00a.m
b. Joint morning prayer at 6:30 a.m.
c. Breakfast at 7: 00 a.m.
d. Holy mass is at 9:00 a.m.

4. The schedule for pastoral visits is in the diocesan calendar of pastoral events. There is enough time to get all parishioners involved both those living outside the diocese. It is both social and spiritual event for the bishop to know his flock so publicize it and invite them home.

5. Please see to it that candidates are properly instructed and prepared for Confirmation, this may be our last opportunity to catechize them.

6. Ozioma and offertory dances are appropriate but the participants have to be well prepared.

7. Reception for the bishop is after Holy Mass and not in a dedicated church unless serious reasons necessitate it.

8. Reading of the Welcome Address in Igbo is encouraged.

9. Kindly submit the parish welcome address and program to the secretariat at least four days to the visit.

10. Cooking is to be finished in time to allow those involved in it to begin mass with us at. 9. a.m. The bishop is eager to celebrate with all the faithful.

11. If the bishop’s room needs to be repainted it is better to do it at least one week before the visit.

12. Canon Law and Practice requires that the following books be examined during pastoral visit, kindly leave them in the bishop’s room:
a. Mass register. 
b. Baptism register. 
c. Confirmation register
d. Marriage register.
e. Death register, 
f. Holy Communion register, 
g. Sick call register 
h. Rectory Account books.
i. Diocesan and Universal Church Collection record book.
j. Last parish monthly account. 
k. Parish Journal

13. Endeavor to be debt free from the diocesan levies and your ministerial fund remittance to the diocese. This is the diocesan regulation and an indication of your good will towards the diocese. Non compliance may be interpreted as disregard for the diocese and will affect bishop’s behavior in the parish during the visit.

14. Without over stretching the people kindly encourage them to be generous and support the Diocese. Remember it is once in three years.

15. No priest may take a loan from a bank, company or individual on behalf of the parish without reference to the secretariat.

16. Priests may not embark on the erection of a new structure or major renovation in the parish facilities without reference to the secretariat.

17. According to church law only the bishop of a diocese may invite a religious congregation for apostolate in the diocese.

18. If you will be out of your parish or place of ministry for over a week, kindly submit to the secretariat the name of your substitute and a phone number through which you may be reached in case of emergency to the secretariat before departure.

19. Creation of a new parish. If a parish priest sees the need for the creation of a new parish out of his parish he should do the ground work and apply in writing to the bishop. This application must be signed by at least four representatives of the community whom the new parish will serve. 

20. Building of a convent. If parish priest sees the need for a convent to be built in his parish he should apply in writing to the bishop. The bishop must give a written permission before the commencement of any structures.

21. Only the bishop approves the plan for a convent and Father’s house.

22. Assignment as a parish priest is not automatic or based on year of ordination but on a priest’s ability to provide spiritual leadership to the parish. Consequently, he must the physical capacity, emotional maturity, strong moral and spiritual foundation and above all pastoral zeal.

23. A priest who proves himself unable to provide responsible pastoral leadership and accountability may be reassigned. 

24. The parish priest is responsible for the parish, that is, “the chief accounting officer” for the parish and should be ready to account for things happening in the father’s house and the parish.

25. The parish priest should give specific assignment to the assistant living with him, this will give him a sense of belonging and engagement in the affairs of the parish. 

26. Assistants should work hand in hand with the parish priest to see to the smooth running of the parish. Priests should not shy away from giving fraternal corrections to fellow priests.

27. Priest leaving in the same house should at least eat lunch together; say the evening prayer together at 7.15 p.m. followed by supper. Eating in your rooms or at separate times are signs of personal problems. 

28. The bishop may officiate at weddings of the faithful; in all cases the parish priest will advise the bishop to avoid embarrassing the church. E.g. pregnancy before wedding etc.

29. Inform the bishop of events involving prominent individuals in your parish.

30. Maintain a functional parish office with relevant documentation in files well arranged. Don’t operate from your room.

31. Bind the weekly bulletin at the end of the year and keep in the office for posterity.

32. Every priest in the diocese of Orlu must be part of the health insurance for priests. Details will soon be worked out with the CBCN for details. We must take off from January 2009. It is the responsibility of the parish priest that it be paid promptly.

33. Retirement fund for priests. Priests retire at 75 years of age, therefore, we must plan for retirement. I am bringing the management of diocesan retirement fund directly under the office of the bishop. I will have a meeting with the committee you will set up today on Monday Nov. 17 at 10 a.m. 

34. Home for priests is a priority for us action must begin now. OPUS SECURITATIS is worldwide retirement fund for priests demands each priest pay about N30,000.00 yearly. This will be looked into and see other possible options.

1. The current requirement for parish priest to remit 25% twenty five percent of ministerial fund for the upkeep of the secretariat still holds. It may be reviewed if necessary.

2. For proper planning and prompt payment of salaries and other commitment this remittance has to be made not later than one week into the new month. Not doing so will be retarding the progress of the Diocese.

3. Diocesan and universal church collections are to be made as indicated in the diary and submitted to the office before Friday of the same week. The parish priest should delegate someone else to take care of the collections.

4. A priest who fails to remit appropriate dues to the diocese after two months may be summoned by the finance office, after the third month the mater should be referred to the bishop.

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