Kathy HENDRICKS. Parish Life Coordinators: Profile of an Emerging Ministry. Chicago, Illinois: Loyola Press, 2009. pp. 105. $11.95 pb. ISBN-13: 978-0-8294-2648-9.
Reviewed by  Trudy DANTIS, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Research Office, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, VIC 3065, Australia.

The book is one of a series that has emerged from the research done for the ‘Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project’, conducted by the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University. The author, Kathy Hendricks, has several years experience in catechetical and pastoral ministry at both parish and diocesan levels and, having served as a Parish Life Coordinator herself, her contributions throughout the book are particularly valuable.

Parish Life Coordinators: Profile of an Emerging Ministry focuses on a model of parish leadership where someone other than a priest is entrusted with the pastoral care of a parish under Canon 517.2 of the Catholic Church’s 1983 revised Code of Canon Law. A person taking on this role is called a Parish Life Coordinator (PLC) and the book discusses the details of their ministry over twenty years of the model’s implementation in US parishes.

Beginning with an explanation of the Canon 517.2 model that forms the basis of this new ministry in Chapter 1, the book then describes the profile of a PLC and their roles and responsibilities in a parish in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 examines the current situation of PLC-led parishes across the US before embarking on a detailed discussion in the last three chapters of the implementation and working of the model along with a perspective on its future in the US.

The strengths of this book lie in its utilisation of key research statistics and narratives to provide a comprehensive picture of PLCs and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the model. Particularly poignant are the author’s own experiences and excerpts from the writings of other PLCs, who share their challenges, struggles, joys and gifts of their ministry.

The book offers practical strategies for preparing a parish community for the implementation of a PLC model, along with ideas for ongoing training, development, supervision and evaluations of the role. It is particularly useful for parishes or dioceses undergoing or facing similar challenges. Pastoral planners, parish leaders and lay people interested in the future of their parishes will find many resources here.


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