Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Centre Strategic and Operational Plan 2012/2013

Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Centre

Strategic and Operational Plan


Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Centre

Strategic and Operational Plan



In 2012, the Advisory Committee of the Armagh Diocesan Pastoral Centre (The Centre) undertook a review of the Vision and Mission Statement that have served the Centre well since 2007.

The review was prompted by the many changes that have occurred both within society and within the local Catholic Church in the intervening years.

The Committee believes that the new Vision, Mission and Aim for the Centre, along with the accompanying documentation encompassing:

  • Guiding Principles
  • Strategic Analysis
  • Growing Demands
  • Strategic Objectives
  • Action Plan,

will position the Centre well to understand and embrace the new challenges faced in the short to medium term.


Our vision is that every person who crosses the threshold of the Centre for whatever reason, will experience the presence of the Spirit at work in their lives.


Inspired by the Gospels, our mission is to reach out to those in the community for whom the care required, be it spiritual or pastoral, is either not available or not readily available elsewhere, and to provide that care with the aid of  well trained, supervised and committed staff and volunteers.


Our aim is to position the Centre as a significant presence and asset within the Diocese and local community so as to more effectively fulfil our mission.

Guiding Principles:

Armagh Diocesan Aim:  “As a diocese, we aim to be the Body of Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit so that we can live like Jesus in our time and place sharing his compassionate love with all.”

Consistent with the Diocesan Aim, there are two passages from the Gospels which, when read together, provide simple, but powerful, guiding principles for the work of the Centre.

John 13:

“I give you a new commandment, love one another; just as I have loved you, you must love one another. By this love you have for one another everyone will know you are my disciples.”

Matthew 25:

I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.”

In its every detail, in its every human contact, in everything it does, the Centre is guided and inspired by these Gospel teachings.

For that reason, at all times and in all circumstances, the work of the Centre is pastoral.

For many people attending the Centre, it is their only contact with the Catholic Church. Whatever their reason for attending, the Centre provides the space and environment for them to experience the presence of the Spirit in their lives.

Strategic Analysis:

It is important to state again that the motivating theme of all work undertaken in the Centre is pastoral.

This is true whether the Centre is offering programmes to support children or adults at vulnerable times in their lives, whether providing or hosting spiritual programmes, or when the Centre is used for diocesan or community events.

For a number of reasons, the manner in which the Centre provides its pastoral care must evolve, particularly in the context of care offered to vulnerable children and adults.

  • The decline in the number of priests and religious, an alarming increase in the number of baptised Catholics turning away from the Church and the general secularisation of society, have meant that pastoral care from the Church is not available, or not sought, as it once was.
  • The State increasingly provides social services, health care and welfare to the extent that the Church has become largely irrelevant in the context of care in these areas.
  • The State has also introduced comprehensive legislation and regulation pertaining to those working with vulnerable children and adults. This includes Garda vetting, compulsory training in child protection practice and procedures, and the passage of specific legislation that governs the conduct of people engaged in this work and that sets down the responsibilities to report, and procedures for reporting, when abuse is suspected or detected. The Church, too, has its own guidelines and procedures for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, and these complement the State’s requirements.
  • Given the prevailing economic conditions, State funding for work with vulnerable children and adults is on a steep decline, as is the general availability of funds for other aspects of the Centre’s work.
  • Anticipated, but as yet unknown, changes to the Community Employment Scheme, will have a serious impact on staffing of the Centre.
  • The increasing demands for better quality and more frequent training are putting further strain on already stretched resources.

These are some of the more serious challenges that need to be addressed by the Centre in the short to medium term.

Growing Demands:

Despite the challenges mentioned above, there are significant indications that the demand for programmes offered by the Centre is increasing, not diminishing:

  • just in terms of numbers of people attending the Centre for various reasons, there has been a steady increase over the last 3 years:

2009-2010: 8,578 people

2010-2011: 9,751 people

2011-2012: 10,000+ (expected by the end of July 2012)

  • Despite the presence of the State in the areas of health and welfare, there are gaps in what the State can and will provide itself, preferring instead to fund, albeit in a limited fashion, community groups to provide these services.
  • Given its track record, the Centre is in a unique position to target these gaps, seek funding and offer approved programmes to vulnerable children and adults. These programmes are consistently oversubscribed.
  • Specifically, these programmes address the needs of:

Children who are suffering as a result of a dramatic change in their family circumstances, e.g. separation, divorce, death of a loved one. (Rainbows)

Adults who are struggling to put their lives together after experiencing the death of a partner or separation or divorce. (Beginning Experience)

Individuals who are grieving the death of a loved one. (Bereavement Programmes)

  • Because these programmes are offered by the Centre, there are no conditions of entry other than the need, and so, pastoral care is available to all in need, whether they are Catholics, lapsed Catholics or non Catholics. The new reality is that the Centre extends the pastoral care of the Church to all, and not just to those who formerly approached the local priest or religious brother or sister.
  • Even though the Church is beset with difficulties, and appears to be in decline, the experience of the Centre is that there is an increasing demand from the faithful for programmes designed to improve their knowledge of Scriptures and the Catholic faith and to enhance their spiritual lives. (Vision, Croi Nua, School Retreats)
  • Perhaps more surprisingly, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people seeking to embrace the Catholic faith. The Centre is about to embark on its third successive year of RCIA.
  • Despite the overall impression of gloom, there is an extraordinary amount of diocesan activity being undertaken as the local Church attempts to come to grips with the new realities. The Centre is at the heart of this activity. There are meetings of Commissions of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, meetings of Pastoral Areas, both clergy and laity, meetings of Parish Pastoral Councils and diocesan chaplains. On the ecumenical front there are gatherings of the Irish Inter-Church Committee comprising the Irish Council of Churches and the Irish Bishops’ Conference and local ecumenical groups.
  • And finally, the Centre has established a strong presence in the local community, where it is becoming the venue of choice for various community groups and government departments for meetings, courses, training etc.

The Centre then is in a position to offer its pastoral care to a wide range of people across a wide range of interests and needs.

Advisory Committee

Strategic Objectives – Director

Deputy Director

  1. Provide leadership for the Centre
  2. Exercise the necessary controls over the Centre
  3. Ensure transparency and accountability of the Centre
  4. Work effectively
  5. Behave with integrity

Action Plan

  1. Provide leadership for the Centre

1.1 Agree the Vision, Mission Advisory Committee

and Aim of the Centre.

1.2 Communicate Vision, Mission Director/Dep. Director

and Aim to staff, volunteers

and display in public areas.

1.3 Review Vision, Mission Advisory Committee

and Aim annually.

1.4 Develop and agree written Director/Dep. Director

policies as required.

1.5 Develop an annual budget Director/Dep. Director

for the year’s activities.

1.6 Ensure staff and volunteers Director/Dep. Director

are trained as required and are

clear as to their roles and responsibilies.

1.7 Investigate & implement new programmes Director/Dep. Director

to provide pastoral care consistent with

the Vision, Mission and Aim.

  1. Exercise the necessary controls over the Centre

2.1 Identify and comply with all Director/Dep.Director

relevant legal, regulatory

and ecclesiastical requirements pertaining

to the Centre’s Status. (e.g. Charity legislation, Canon Law)

2.2 Comply with legislation and regulations Director/Dep. Director

pertaining to children and vulnerable adults.

2.3 Comply with legislation and regulations Director/Dep. Director

pertaining to health & safety, food safety

and data protection.

2.4 Monitor income and expenditure against Director/Dep. Director/

the budget on a regular basis. Treasurer

2.5 Draw up an annual report of income Director/Dep. Director/

and expenditure. Treasurer

2.6 Agree and implement appropriate Director/Dep. Director/

financial management procedures. Treasurer

2.7 Identify major risks for the Centre Director/Dep. Director/

and identify ways to manage the risks. Treasurer

2.8 Ensure compliance with the terms Director/Dep. Director

and conditions of any public or private Treasurer

grants received.

2.9 Maintain the integrity & security of Director/Dep. Director

database, especially where it contains

personal information.

    1. Ensure that all necessary insurance is Director/ Dep. Director

up to date.

  1. Ensure transparency and accountability of the Centre

3.1 Identify those who have legitimate Director/Dep. Director

interest in the work of the Centre and

communicate with them about the Centre

3.2 Produce an Annual Report on the Director/Dep. Director

Centre’s activities.

3.3 Communicate the Annual Report Director/Dep. Director

to major stakeholders.

3.4 Publish the Annual Report on the Director/Dep. Director

Diocesan Website.

3.5 Meet the reporting requirements Director/Dep. Director

of funding bodies.

3.6 Seek and act on feedback from Director/Dep. Director

stakeholders in respect of the work

of the Centre

  1. Work Effectively

4.1 Enhance the spirit of teamwork Director/Dep. Director

among staff and volunteers.

4.2 Plan to anticipate, rather than react Director/Dep. Director

to, matters arising for which action

may be required or in regard to which

a position may need to be taken.

4.3 Meet regularly (3 monthly) to review Director/Dep. Director

recent events and to finalise short Treasurer

term plans.

4.4 Meet regularly (3 monthly) to review Director/Dep. Director

financial situation, with particular Treasurer

regard to achieving savings and/or

increasing revenue.

4.5 Organise at least 2 meetings of the Director/Dep. Director

Advisory Committee per year

4.6 Ensure that the Advisory Committee Director/Dep. Director

includes individuals with spiritual,

pastoral, business and financial expertise.

  1. Behaving with Integrity

5.1 Ensure all staff have a copy of their Director/Dep. Director

“job description” and understand the

the contents.

5.2 Provide a “family friendly” work Director/Dep. Director


5.3 Appreciate the work of volunteers Director/Dep. Director

through up-to-date training, support

and recognition.

5.4 Develop a code of conduct for staff Director/Dep. Director

5.5 All training to contain a segment on Director/Dep. Director

the importance of the good name of

the Pastoral Centre.