Pillar Information Sheet

Pillar Information Sheet

Formation of Pillar Groups:

  • Each pillar group should contain between 7 – 10 members. 
  • Representation from each parish should be on each pillar group, if that is not possible that is ok and will be addressed in the pillar training. 
  • Pillar group members should be prepared to meet minimally twice a month for six months

6 Church Pillars


Description: The Liturgy is the primary way in which we worship God. The focus on the liturgy pillar is to make sure we have the very best worship taking place within our family of parishes. Priority is to be given to the dignity of each celebration, focusing on good ministry, music and participation. Priority is not to be given to appeasing locations and times. Consideration also needs to be taken into account for church capacities and accommodation of people at a location.  

  • Mass Schedules for each parish within the Family 
  • Sacrament schedule
  • Liturgy Committee 

Spiritual Life

Description: Spiritual Life works hand in hand with Liturgy. The Spiritual Life pillar should focus on fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ through para-liturgical experiences, retreats, devotions and any activity within the family that will help bring people closer to Jesus. 

  • Devotions
  • Retreats
  • Life in the Eucharist

Forming Disciples

Description: Forming Disciples involves all aspects of education. If your family has a Catholic school within it, your pillar group for forming disciples must contain a representative from the school. How the family supports all education is the primary function of this pillar group. 

  • Religious Education (K-12)
  • Catholic schools
  • Youth Ministry (Grades 6-8)
  • Youth Ministry (Grades 9-12)
  • Young Adult Faith Formation
  • Adult Faith Formation
  • Adult Leadership Training
  • Inclusive Catechesis
  • Family Formation
  • Sacramental Preparation

Out Reach / In Reach 

Description: This pillar involves how we as church respond to the needs of our people, both in and outside of our family of parishes. Social outreach/justice are a key component of this pillar and can work together with organizations that already focus on specific outreach activities; St. Vincent de Paul, Food Pantry, etc. 

Out Reach 

  • Any ministry or activity aimed at bringing relief for those who are suffering, while maintaining inclusivity
  • Evangelization efforts geared at people who are unchurched and seeking Christ
  • Promotion of missionary discipleship to attract new Catholics

In Reach 

  • Ministry to those who are in physical or spiritual need
  • Empower parishioners
  • Develop a culture of welcome


Description: Stewardship looks at how we utilize time, talent and treasure among our parishes for the good of our parishes and people. Working closely to make sure our efforts in fundraising do not compete with one another, this pillar group works on coordinating efforts for a fundraising schedule, determining how volunteers get involved in ministries between parishes within the family and ways that people can get involved in the family. 

  • Volunteers
    • Donate time, treasure and / or talent
  • Family / Parish hospitality
  • Any activities that have to do with the above


Description: The Administration Pillar looks at the business components of how our parishes operate, and looks at creating efficiencies that respond to the challenges of diminishing resources and personnel as we move forward. Determining each parish’s fiscal responsibility within the family is also a part of this pillars task. This pillar will work closely with the Pastor of the Family and the Renewal office to ensure expectations for the family within the Renewal are being met. 

  • Human Resources
    • Compensation, benefits & policies
  • Safe Environment
  • Governing / Family leadership
  • Central office
  • Processes / On-site Hours
  • Personnel
  • Budgeting / finances
  • Communications
  • Data / Reporting
  • Security / Compliance

Dealing with Insecure People (Priest/Leadership Resource)

After spending over 35 years working in organizational development and studying workplace psychology, I’ve assisted thousands of individuals to better understand how to navigate tough organizational relationships, especially during times of extraordinary change.  Change can bring out both the best in people but also the worst.

During these times of change, one of the most challenging behavioural types to deal with is highly insecure people. Characteristically, these are the individuals who find comfort in stable and predictable environments. They prefer security and despise changes even though change is a necessity for achievement and advancement in any area of life.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed many teams and organizations as a whole, even, that have failed to reach their full potential or to get themselves out of chaos because of a highly insecure person(s) standing in the way. The first step to preventing things from getting worse is to know how to identify them quickly.

So, to help determine whether you are dealing with a highly insecure person, here are seven common statements that highly insecure people say when they sense that change is coming:

  1. “I don’t have time for this. My other priorities are more important.”

Usually, it’s not that they don’t have enough time; it’s that they don’t know how to manage it effectively. And they rarely have any deliberate or mindful strategies of how to prioritize their tasks.

  1. “I’ve already tried this [or something similar], but it didn’t work.”

This claim is often a complete fabrication. Insecure people don’t try new things. They mostly talk about trying new things at best.

  1. “This is just another way for management to cut jobs.”

Highly insecure people who don’t believe they’re validated and appreciated at work can become paranoid.

They may suspect that someone, most often those in leadership, are out to “get” them.

  1. “This is a stupid idea. Everything is working fine as it is.”

When a highly insecure person has a strong and dismissive reaction to a new initiative, it may be a sign that they realize they will have to put more effort into their work, and they feel threatened by it.

  1. “This might work for others, but it’s not for me.”

Insecure people are big on inflating how unique they are and how special the conditions surrounding their work are.

  1. “Can’t we think of something else? I’m not feeling this.”

This is usually an attempt to stall and completely avoid any real change or improvement. The alternative way the insecure person suggests is usually more or less a continuation of the same behavior. 

  1. “It’s obvious that whoever came up with this idea is clueless about the complexity of my work.”

If a person claims that what they do is too difficult and can’t be comprehended by someone else, it only means that they actually don’t fully understand what they do. Or they may be avoiding being transparent because they have something to hide.

Handling a Highly Insecure Person

The most important thing you can do is to develop a sense of compassion for your insecure colleagues, parishioners or strangers. Having dark, negative thoughts about them won’t ever get you anywhere.

Find a balance between being supportive and exercising tough love. Maintain a sense of positivity and composure, but don’t show that you feel sorry for them. Insecure people often react without any deeper thinking or understanding of what they’re reacting to.

If they only get a comforting response from you, it could make them believe that they are right to be fearful or reactive, and not interrogate why.

Don’t accept excuses. It will only make it easier for them to stay stuck in their ways. Instead, follow this mantra: “An excuse is a claim, and a claim needs to be proven to be true.”

Ask questions that will poke holes in their argument – not to be openly defensive, retaliatory or passively aggressive, but because this will get them to identify what is actually true in this moment. This approach can also help them see that their excuses may be standing in the way of what they can accomplish if they face their fears.

Charles E. Fritz was a giant of modern disaster studies, a field that emerged after World War II brought forth some amazing science.  One of Fritz’s discoveries was that “everyday life is already a disaster of sorts, that we become blind to in ordinary times, one from which actual disaster can liberate us, since it gives each of us the chance to express the best in ourselves and bring about powerful and needed changes.”  The “merging of individual and overall needs” during a disaster, Fritz argued, “has provided a feeling of belonging and a sense of unity rarely achieved under normal circumstances.”

Therefore, we shouldn’t be afraid to let challenging times bring out the best in ourselves, those who work around us and parishioners who are looking for leadership from us all!

Keep in mind, patience, empathy and consistency can gradually replace their insecurity with trust!


More on Leadership (Priest/Leadership Resource)

Leaders, regardless of title or application, have always been – and always will be – expected to produce results.  In today’s very different world, however, leaders need to produce results in a fundamentally different way!

Gone are the days of the heroic individual leading from the top. Nowadays, decision-making is much more decentralized within organizations which position leaders to empower and enable their people. Leaders armed with only limited old-style leadership techniques aren’t accustomed to giving up “control” and completely missed the memo that having true people-skills, often referred to as “soft-skills” – are now especially critical for today’s leaders to get the most from today’s followers.

These “soft-skills” or, “people-skills” specifically refer to a wide range of competencies and capabilities, leaving many leaders confused about what they entail. This should not surprise anyone since most hands-on leaders who rely on their more authoritative approach are hardly the type to make the sudden leap to a more people-centric style.

In the absence of formal training, leaders often operate by employing more directive methods that they were managed/led with in their work history. Once they assume higher levels of responsibility, they are reluctant to listen to the scientific research findings of the past 10 years which is reporting that far better results come from becoming a more empowering leader – most of these types of leaders have a difficult time adapting.

How can leaders who fall short on soft-skills develop a more enabling style?

The truth is that there is no one moment when everything suddenly snaps into place – there is no Saul on the road to Damascus here. Most transformations involve study, application and experimentation to broaden a person’s repertoire of the different styles of effective leadership and people skills that Lisa Arnet presented at the Pastor Training session.

That said, there are predictable stages and challenges along the way.

  • The first stage is referred to as the Departure, during which the leader recognizes the need for a change and deliberately starts to gather information and to leave behind familiar ways of working/leading.
  • Then comes the Journey, a time of transition during which the leader encounters obstacles and trials that teach important lessons and open the path to transformation.
  • The New Leader
    arrives with a new understanding of who they are, what kind of leader their new skills allows them to become and when they begin to transfer what they’ve learned to others!

More on the Departure

Research suggests that leaders alter their habitual ways of doing things only when they become aware of a gap between their current reality and where they need to be. The catalyst might be an event or feedback from colleagues. But typically, people embark on a concerted effort to change only after multiple experiences and conversations make them realize that their behaviour is impeding outcomes they care about.

The impetus to change can come in other ways. Some leaders recognize the need when they observe people with more-developed people skills – usually in the context of an organizational shift toward a more empowering culture-and discover that these new skills and behaviours help them to achieve valued results.

It’s also important to note that many leaders initially underestimate the extent of change required and need the help and perspective of a trusted partner – an adviser, mentor, or a coach. Not everyone reaches the departure stage. And the ones who do embark on the Journey will discover it requires humility, self-awareness, patience and resilience to complete it – but the rewards are innumerable and life-changing for everyone.

More on the Journey

Having watched and assisted many leaders through this stage, those who succeed in making the transition engage in three key practices.

  1. Creating a new context for learning: Leaders will often put themselves in situations where they have no direct authority and so are compelled to develop a more indirect, empowering style. This is called outside-in learning.

Example: Take on a project with others where you have no history, and you must adopt a more collaborative manner.

Leaders can also transform their style by taking skills they have developed within their own teams and using them more broadly. This is called inside-out learning.

Example: Attempt to learn and apply active listening, recognizing and managing emotions, asking Socratic-type questions more than telling people what to do and how it should be accomplished.

  1. Enlist Assistance: At every stage of development, to really change, you need mentors and partners to discuss outcomes, options, feedback and next steps. You need someone who can hold you accountable and who can lift the mirror. (For more information on the Priest Mentor Program, see bottom of article for Dcn. Gary Andelora and Jerry Casillo contact information)
  1. Persisting through setbacks and learning from them: The line to any finish is rarely straight – always focus on small wins and watch them accumulate! By demonstrating the potential of your new style and eliciting positive feedback, these small wins start to quickly shift the leader’s motivation:
    • From Necessity – “I need to communicate better.”
    • To Possibility – “I’m working on communicating better because it will help myself and everyone around me to accomplish our goals.”
    • To Identity – “I’m communicating better because that’s who I want to be!”

These subtle changes help leaders become more self-reflective and trusted!

More on the New Leader

The moment of being a New Leader arrives after acquiring new lessons, trials, feedback, setbacks and recoveries. Then, the New Leader internalizes a more empowering leadership style which is a genuine reflection of their new selves and can employ it across the board in both professional and personal situations which will positively impact the lives and achievements of countless others.

More than ever, we need leaders who can harness skills, ingenuity and foster engagement.

While it’s not an easy transformation – it is indefinitely rewarding for so many!

For More Information on the Priest Mentor Program, Please Contact:


Criteria for naming of a Family of Parishes

two women holding pen
  1. It embraces all parishes within the Family.
  2. It is something all parishes can relate to in some way.
  3. It can be a name that reflects historical significance, geographical features, or acronyms that represent the parishes. (example: Beloved Disciples of Christ the Lord… for the family of parishes that represent Bowmansville, Depew, Cheektowaga and Lancaster)  
  4. The only thing the name cannot be is a Saints name, so as not to confuse the Family name with the parish names. 

Salt and Light Parish Assessment

We believe the Church’s social mission is an essential measure of every parish community . . . . We need to build local communities of faith where our social teaching is central, not fringe; where social ministry is integral, not optional; where it is the work of every believer, not just the mission of a few committed people and committees” (Communities of Salt and Light, p. 4).

The following questions are based on the framework for integrating social ministry throughout parish life contained in Communities of Salt and Light. They are designed to help pastors, parish councils, staff, committees, and other groups reflect on their parish’s social ministry. They provide an opportunity to do a general assessment that can identify both strengths and weaknesses in efforts to integrate the Church’s social mission into various aspects of parish ministry. This general assessment can lead to further discussions by those responsible for each area of ministry.

Anchoring Social Ministry: Prayer and Worship

  1. In what ways does our parish worship reflect Christ’s call to conversion, to service, and to working for justice?
  2. During the liturgy, in what ways is the gospel’s call to build peace, work for justice, and care for the poor regularly reflected in the general intercessions, in homilies, in our celebrations of special feast days and holidays, and at other appropriate times?
  3. How do our sacramental celebrations help us renew our commitment to reconciliation throughout our lives and rededicate ourselves to Jesus’ message of love and justice, especially for those in need?
  4. What opportunities for prayer, scripture study, and reflection on our Christian vocation does our parish offer? How is our social mission incorporated into these activities?
  5. In what ways are our social ministry efforts clearly rooted in Scripture and spirituality, and connected to liturgy and prayer?

Sharing the Message: Preaching and Education

  1. How effectively does preaching at our parish reflect the social dimensions of our faith?
  2. In what ways is our rich heritage of Catholic social teaching integrated into our school curriculum?
    • our religious education program?
    • our sacramental preparation program?
    • our Christian initiation ministry?
    • our ongoing religious formation and enrichment for adults?

Supporting the “Salt of the Earth”: Family, Work, Citizenship

  1. Sustaining Christian marriage and shaping family life around gospel values can be difficult in our culture. What concrete and practical support does our parish offer
    • to married couples and to those preparing for marriage (counsel, retreats, small faith communities)?
    • to parents (parenting skills workshops, support groups)?
  2. An important opportunity for living our faith is through our work, in everyday decisions and actions, in the way we treat coworkers and customers. How does our parish support our members in practicing Christian values in the workplace?
  3. In what ways are parishioners providing leadership in unions, community groups, professional associations, and political organizations? How does our parish support them as they live their faith in these leadership roles?

Serving the “Least of These’: Outreach and Charity

  1. In what ways is our parish serving those in need?
  2. How do parishioners become aware of these opportunities for service and action? 3. How effectively have we involved our parish community in our social ministry efforts?
  3. What direction do our service programs provide to our parish efforts in advocacy -in changing the conditions that create poverty and suffering?

Advocating for Justice: Legislative Action

  1. How does our parish help parishioners become better informed on public policy issues that impact the poor and vulnerable?
  2. In what ways do we encourage our members to become more active citizens, exercising their right to vote and participating in public life?
  3. What opportunities does our parish provide for parishioners to speak and act effectively in the public arena on behalf of the poor and vulnerable, to bring our values to debates about local, national, and international policies and priorities?
  4. How effectively have we involved our parish community in advocacy efforts?

Creating Community: Organizing for Justice

  1. What community organization exist in our local community or diocese”
  2. How is our parish participating in or supporting such efforts?

Building Solidarity: Beyond Parish Boundaries

  1. In what ways does our parish provide to our members information about the needs of our brothers and sisters, especially the poor and vulnerable, in other lands?
  2. What links does our parish have to people, parishes, or other groups around the globe?
  3. What opportunities does our parish offer us to act in solidarity on international

Forming Disciples Pillar Resources

Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Level 1 Atrium : (3-6 yr olds) 

  • Determine if your FOP has a CGS level 1 Atrium 
  • Consider CGS LEVEL 1 Atrium for 3-6 year old children in your FOP 
  • Determine if your parish has designated space available for Atrium 
  • Determine if there are Catechists in your program interested in training 
  • Can commit to 90 hours of CGS Formation training                 
  • Grant $ available to Catechists/ Religion teachers who successfully complete CGS Level 1 training (Application available)
  • Consider the budget in preparing to purchase supplies for the Atrium (Cabinets, chairs, tables and works)
  • Purchase supplies

Sacrament Preparation

  • Occurs at the Parish Faith Formation program 
  • DRE obtains student rosters for sacrament prep from Catholic School Elementary/High School principals (FN/PDS)
  • Catholic Elementary/High school principal sends sacrament prep letter of invitation to parents
  • Make bulletin and website announcements that Sacrament Enrollment is open
  •  DRE follows up with Catholic school parents about enrolling child(ren) in  parish sacrament prep program
  • Request and gather Baptismal Certificates at enrollment; keep track of them throughout the enrollment and preparation periods.

 Family Faith Formation (K-6th Gr)

  • Identify parish sites who can accommodate family program                                                                                     
  • Assess students environment/classroom space   
  • Consider if the space conducive to prayer and experiencing faith in a group setting                                                                                                  
  • Is space conducive to learning about the Faith                                                                                      
  • Consider providing meals /snacks/ baked goods during the Family sessions                                                                            
  • Identify which parish has access to working kitchen     
  • Identify which parish has access to technology (projector/screen, smart board/smart TV                                                                                              
  • Are there enough tables and chairs to accommodate this gathering                                                                                          
  • Will you have guest speakers presenting to the parents/ adult                                                                                
  • Consider grouping children (K-1 Gr) (2-3 Gr) (4-6th Gr)                                                                                                  
  • Assess the number of catechists for each grade level
  • Order books and/or purchase supplies

Junior High school  (7-8th Gr )
Adheres to the Forming Disciples Standards

  • Identify parish sites in FOP who can accommodate Junior High  program                                                                                           
  • Assess students environment: classroom/ gym/ small meeting rooms   
  • Consider if the space conducive to prayer and experiencing faith in a group setting                                                                 
  • Is space conducive to learning about the Faith                                                                                        
  • Consider providing meals /snacks/ baked goods during the Family sessions                                                
  • Identify which parish has access to a working kitchen.  
  • Identify parishes with access to technology    
  • Identify parishes with outdoor greenspace                                                                                 
  • Are there sufficient number of tables and chairs to accommodate this gathering                                   
  • Will  guest speakers present to the parents/ adults/ students                                                            
  • Assess the number of catechists /core members for each grade level
  • Opportunities for mentoring with members from Faith Formation High schoolers

High School (9-12 Gr)
Adheres to the Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework , USCCB

  • Identify parish sites in FOP who can accommodate High school Faith Formation program                                                                                           
  • Assess students environment: classroom/ gym/ small meeting rooms  
  • Consider if the space conducive to prayer and experiencing faith in a group setting                                                                
  • Is space conducive to learning about the Faith                                                                                        
  • Consider providing meals /snacks/ baked goods during the Family sessions                                                
  • Identify parishes with access to technology    
  • Identify parishes with outdoor greenspace                                                                                 
  • Identify which parish has access to a working kitchen.                                                                                       
  • Are there sufficient number of tables and chairs to accommodate this gathering                                   
  • Will  guest speakers present to the parents/ adults/ students                                                            
  • Assess the number of catechists / core members for each grade level
  • Opportunities for mentoring with members from Young Adult Ministry

Family Inclusive Catechesis / Specialized Catechesis 

  • Explore what is currently offered 
  • Identify FOP who currently offer a program for adaptive catechesis                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Review inclusive needs guidelines and consult with specialists in the field
  • Develop both a Family Needs Survey and an Individualized Enrichment Form 
  • Meet with individual families 
  • Assign a coordinator to assist parishioners with inclusive needs and organize a program for adaptive catechesis at needed levels

Family Faith Orientation 
Children who have been Baptized and have missed several years of catechesis, including the reception of First Reconciliation and First Communion
In the DOB, we have identified over 26,000 children who are registered at a parish, yet are neither attending Catholic school or religious education programs

  • Acquire list of the families who are registered at your parish and identify the children (K-12th Grade) 
  • Identify families (PDS/Flocknote) who have not participated in Faith Formation and who are not registered in Catholic Schools
  • Invite families to a social events or celebrations at the parish
  • Invite and integrate new families into parish life
  • Invitation to enroll in the Family Faith Orientation Program
  • Please use approved RCL resource : Our Catholic Heritage /Post baptismal catechesis  
  • Family Faith Orientation should last 1-2 years in forming the family and should include Mass attendance, service, and integration into the life of the parish
  • Students  should have the opportunity to prepare for missed First Reconciliation and First Communion sacraments each year
  • After 2 years of formation children and families are invited to participate in their respective formation year. 

Glossary of Terms

Accountability:  A person who accepts the ownership of the successful completion of a task(s) or the achievement of expected positive outcome(s). This person may delegate certain responsibilities to other parties, but still holds the accountability for the overall success of the project. 

Accountability Meetings: A regular gathering of Clergy within the Family of Parishes to ensure the progress of the 6 Pillar Groups are being carried out in the Family.

Activation Phase: This 6-month phase terminates at the Inauguration date of the Family. During this critical time, Pillar Groups form within the Family and begin to collaborate, developing a 3-year working plan within each Pillar of the Family. In addition, the development of a Family Pastoral Council (FPC) and Family Action Plan (FAP) are equally important aspects of this phase. 

Business Manager: The Family of Parishes (FoP) Business Manager provides a supportive leadership role to the Pastor regarding the administrative responsibilities of the Family. This position has the overall fiduciary responsibility for the management of the FoP business office. As the head of administrative operations, works with the clergy, staff, and volunteers to see that the temporal gifts of the parishioners are prudently accounted for and used to carry out the mission of the Family. 

Chaplain:  A priest or deacon with a specialized ministry that provides ministerial leadership to a specific area of responsibility. (ie: Hospital, Catholic school)

Director of Discipleship: The Director of Discipleship within the Family of Parishes is a leadership role that has oversight responsibility and in some cases direct responsibility for Catholic Education and Faith Formation.

Director of Mission: The Family of Parishes (FoP) Director of Mission is a leadership role in support of the Church’s call to be missionary disciples. The person will establish and oversee all committees that will help to make a good parish into a vibrant community. Since both pillars (Stewardship and OutReach/InReach) involve recruiting and coordinating the work of volunteers, the Director of Mission will need to work closely with the Director of Discipleship. Together, they will ensure the experience of each volunteer is spiritual, positive, and builds the volunteer’s relationship with Christ.

Director of Worship & Music Ministry: Director of Worship/Music Ministry is a professional / credentialed musician specializing in Roman Catholic Liturgy. This person of faith is responsible for planning and coordinating appropriate music for liturgical celebrations throughout the Family. This would include effectively recruiting musicians and matching them with the intended musical style for each Mass congregation. He or she is gifted with a vision of how a Family Faith Community can develop its spiritual potential by participating more fully in every celebration of the Mass, which is the source and summit of all Catholic worship.

Disciple Maker Index (DMI) Survey: A tool used by Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) to assess parish strengths, challenges and areas of growth. This tool will help parishes develop their Family Action Plan (FAP).

D-V-F Alignment Structure: The Diocesan-Vicariate-Family Alignment Structure refers to the alignment structure that provides a strategic means to guide and unify personnel, processes, and results at all 3 levels (Diocesan, Vicariate and Family). This alignment creates new workgroups of people with diversified thoughts who focus, collaborate and share the responsibility for the work and innovation needed within each of the six pillars.

Family Action Plan: The Family Action Plan is the aggregate of the goals, strategies, expected outcomes and methodologies for each of the FoP’s 6 Pillars. Creating and implementing such a tool to guide these activities for years 1, 2 and 3 will help the FoP reach a vibrant future, create vitality and achieve fiscal responsibility. The FAP will also create a culture of intentional progress to replace last minute reactionary decisions and less effective actions. 

Family Finance Council: This is a consultative body that provides counsel to the pastor on the finances of the Family.  It is an expert group of people specifically selected from each of the parishes in the Family who are designated to be responsible for prudent and disciplined management of all Family finances. There will be one overarching Finance Council for the Family of Parishes with a minimum of one representative from each parish. Each Parish will still maintain their own Parish Finance Council. 

Family Leadership Team: The Family Leadership Team (FLT) assists and complements the pastor by adding their unique skillsets to help monitor current realities, create plans for betterment, and evaluate results. They act like executive committees—i.e., they are made up of individuals delegated to make decisions or execute specific responsibilities in the interests of the FoPs and can be made up of parish member trustees, lay leaders, lay ministers, priests, deacons, but should not be dominated by clergy. It is recommended that the FLT meets at least once a month. 

Family Pastoral Council: The Family Pastoral Council (FPC) is the consultative governing body to guide the work of the Family of Parishes. Each parish within the Family is required to have representation on the Family Council. It is recommended that the representative be a member of an individual parish council, but this is not required. The work of the family council is meant to guide the decision making of the Pastor of the Family of Parishes.

Inauguration Phase: The date in which a designated group of parishes begins functioning as a Family. This ends the 6-month Activation Phase for this particular Family of Parishes. It’s not unusual that there may still be residual work to be completed in the beginning of the Inauguration Phase.

Initiation Phase: The phase when a Family of Parishes is informed of a specific activation start date. In the Initiation Phase, parishes begin the preliminary work to prepare for the Activation Phase.

In Solidum: A team of priests in the provision of 1983 code of Canon Law, which resembles ancient models of Pastoral care. This model of Pastoral care is viewed as a practical way of promoting pastoral responsibility, as well as fostering a greater sense of the presbyterium, among the priests of the diocese. All Pastors In Solidum have the powers granted to a pastor by law. These are to be exercised, however, under the direction of the Moderator. Please reference Canons 517, 542 and 543.           

Moderator: In the In Solidum model, a group of priests share responsibility for a Family of Parishes, with help from deacons. One priest among the group will serve as a “moderator” for the family. Although priests may primarily minister at one or two parishes, they will share responsibility for every parish in the family. The Moderator alone represents the juridic affairs the parish or parishes entrusted to the group of priests.

Parochial Vicar: Priest assigned to assist the Pastor in a Family with specific areas of delegated accountabilities and assigned responsibilities within the Family.

Parochial Vicar with Specialized Ministry:   Priest assigned to assist the Pastor in a Family with specific areas of delegated accountability that may be outside of the Family. Furthermore, this priest is also assigned to assist with scheduled liturgies within the Family. 

Pastor: Leader of the Family of Parishes and Pastor of each Family member parish. 

Pillars: There are 6 Church Pillars: Liturgy, Spiritual Life, Forming Disciples, Out Reach / In Reach, Stewardship & Administration. These are the 6 key areas of the Church that require constant planning, monitoring and evaluation within each Family of Parishes.

Pillar Group: A team of experts dedicated to working collaboratively to construct, monitor and evaluate the plan within each of the 6 Pillars. 

Renewal Representatives: Those appointed by the Pastor/Administrator to represent the individual parishes in relaying information about the Renewal to the parish. 

Renewal Representatives’ Key Responsibilities:   Stay informed and relay/communicate Renewal updates to parishioners, help the Family Pastor to form pillar groups by recommending individuals, be involved in a pillar group, participate in Alpha trainings and Life In The Eucharist (LITE), and encourage parish to say the Renewal Prayer. 

Responsibility:            Accepting a responsibility requires a person to take control over something or someone. 

PDS Church Office and Ledger Transition

                In preparation for the PDS Church Office and Ledger transition from separate Parishes to Families of Parishes, the Diocesan Computer Services Department needs some information regarding the current state of the Parishes.  This will help us ensure that we are replicating the current PDS Church Office and Ledger environment at the Hub Parish (Family Office Location) appropriately during the transition process.  Even if your Parish will be the Hub Parish, we still need this information.  Please provide the requested information below in a single response email per Parish.  I recommend having an immediate discussion to determine who will be compiling the information from people at the Parish and sending it in an email to Adam Berry, aberry@buffalodiocese.org with the complete information.

It is critical that no current computer hardware is removed from the Parish until it is determined which computer(s) is the server computer(s) for the PDS Church Office and Ledger programs.  If your Parish is using the Desktop version of the PDS programs, the server computer is the only computer with your Parish’s PDS data.  The server computer must be kept at the current location and a backup obtained from it before it would be moved as part of the transition to the Hub Parish.  If you are using the OnDemand version of the PDS programs, the Parish’s PDS programs and their data are stored “in the cloud” on PDS servers, not on a server computer at the Parish.

The Diocesan Computer Services Department will be handling the transition of PDS Church Office and Ledger only.  We will not be moving or setting up hardware or handling any programs and data other than PDS Church Office and Ledger.

If you need assistance with other PDS products (besides Church Office and Ledger), that is beyond the scope of the Diocesan Computer Services Department, please contact the ACS Technologies Support Team. (ACS Technologies is the company that makes the PDS programs.) Their phone number is 800-669-2509.

If you need technology support beyond the scope of the Diocesan Computer Services Department that is not related to PDS, such as purchase of computers, networking, and installation, please contact a 3rd party IT support vendor such as Tri-Delta. You can contact John O’Connell at Tri-Delta by calling (585) 412-7009 (main office phone) or emailing him, joconnell@tri-delta.com.

For Reference:

Finding Computer Name Instructions:

  1. In PDS Church Office or Ledger, click on File in the top left corner.
  • Click on About at the bottom of the File menu.  The Computer Name will be given on the box that appears.

 Determining Server Computer Name Instructions:

  1. Determine if your Parish is using the Desktop or OnDemand version of the PDS programs.  If you access a particular PDS program by clicking on the ACST OnDemand Client app icon on your desktop, then your Parish is using the OnDemand version of that particular PDS program.  In that case, simply type “OnDemand” for the Server question for that particular program.  Please note that it is possible to use the OnDemand version of one PDS program (such as Church Office), but the Desktop version of another PDS program (such as Ledger).  If you are not using the OnDemand version of a particular PDS program, please continue with the rest of these steps immediately below.
  • If you access the particular program by a desktop icon specific to that program:
  1. In that PDS program, click on File in the top left corner.
  • Click on About at the bottom of the File menu.  The Server computer name would be displayed following two backslashes “\\” at the start of the Data Path.  (For example: In Data Path = \\FrontComputer\PDSChurch\Data, “FrontComputer” is the name of the Server computer.)  If “C:\” is the start of the Data Path, then the data is stored on that computer.  In that case type the name of your computer as the name of the Server computer for that particular program.
  • Type the name of the Server computer as the response for that particular program.
  • Repeat this process for the other program (PDS Church Office or Ledger) if both are on this computer.

Download the PDS Church document (Word Doc.) or copy the following text:

Please provide responses:

Name of Parish:

City/Town of Parish:

4-digit Parish ID (This is the ID typically used by Finance and Internal Audit Departments.):

 Person 1

  • Name:
  • Title:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Computer Name (See instructions above):
  • Which PDS Programs are on that computer:
  • Which PDS Programs are used by this person on that computer:
  • Name of Server Computer for PDS Church Office (See instructions above):
  • Name of Server Computer for Ledger (See instructions above):

 Person 2

  • Name:
  • Title:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Computer Name (See instructions above):
  • Which PDS Programs are on that computer:
  • Which PDS Programs are used by this person on that computer:
  • Name of Server Computer for PDS Church Office (See instructions above):
  • Name of Server Computer for Ledger (See instructions above):

Person 3

  • Name:
  • Title:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Computer Name (See instructions above):
  • Which PDS Programs are on that computer:
  • Which PDS Programs are used by this person on that computer:
  • Name of Server Computer for PDS Church Office (See instructions above):
  • Name of Server Computer for Ledger (See instructions above):

Person 4

  • Name:
  • Title:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Computer Name (See instructions above):
  • Which PDS Programs are on that computer:
  • Which PDS Programs are used by this person on that computer:
  • Name of Server Computer for PDS Church Office (See instructions above):
  • Name of Server Computer for Ledger (See instructions above):

Person 5

  • Name:
  • Title:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Computer Name (See instructions above):
  • Which PDS Programs are on that computer:
  • Which PDS Programs are used by this person on that computer:
  • Name of Server Computer for PDS Church Office (See instructions above):
  • Name of Server Computer for Ledger (See instructions above):

Person 6

  • Name:
  • Title:
  • Email Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Computer Name (See instructions above):
  • Which PDS Programs are on that computer:
  • Which PDS Programs are used by this person on that computer:
  • Name of Server Computer for PDS Church Office (See instructions above):
  • Name of Server Computer for Ledger (See instructions above):

Send the complete information in an email to Adam Berry, aberry@buffalodiocese.org

Parish/School Bookkeeping Basics

close up photo of ledger s list

All bookkeeping must be completed on a Modified Cash Basis:

  • Receipts are recorded when the deposit is made to the bank, All deposits are recorded to Receipt Accts (3000). Deposits are not recorded to expense accounts (4000).
  • Expenses are recorded when the disbursement is made or the invoice is paid, All disbursements/paid invoices are recorded to Expense accounts (4000). Disbursements/paid invoices are not recorded to Receipt accounts (3000).
  • Some exceptions:
    • Tuition and fees (school/faith formation) paid in advance of the fiscal year should be recorded to liability account(s).
    • Funds Held in Trust: assets retained in the assets, but for a specific purpose, these will be paid out eventually. (i.e.: special collections, UTR), established as a liability account.
    • Expenses and reimbursements between Parishes in the family.
  • Do NOT include:
    • Prepaid expenses
    • Accounts Receivable
    • Accounts Payable
    • Accruals/Reserves

Use of Liabilities for Funds Held in Trust:

UTR: Funds are received over a period of time from UTR for the Parish’s share. These are being held until enough funds are received in order to do a project. In this case, deposits are recorded to the UTR Liability account (2000s), using the cash receipt process in PDS Ledger.

When the funds are used, the disbursements/paid invoices process are used in PDS Ledger. This transaction is posted/distributed to an expense account(s) (4000s).

An Adjusting Journal Entry (AJE) is posted to reduce the liability and recognize the receipt. The AJE would be for the same amount(s) as the disbursement/paid invoice transaction(s).

In this example the AJE would be:

  • Debit: #2000 UTR Liability $XXXXX
  • Credit: # 3000 Approved Capital Campaign $XXXXX

Processing the activity in this manner, moves the activity through the income statement, recognizing both the receipt and the expense, with a net effect on overall surplus (deficit) of $0.

Special collections: Deposits made to the bank account from offertory for a specific required special collection are posted to the special collection liability account. When the disbursement is made to remit the funds, the special collection liability account balance should be remitted. Generating the paid invoice, the amount of the check is distributed to the applicable liability account.

If the Parish wants to round up or donate additional funds for this special collection, the additional donation is considered a parish expense, and the distribution would include the additional donation posted to an expense account (4000s).

In this example, the parish collected $57 for Peter Pence. The parish wants to round up the remittance to a total of $100. The invoice would be entered as:

  • Payee: Diocese of Buffalo, Amount: $100
  • Distribution:
    • Liability account- #2300 Peter’s Pence $57.00
    • Expense account – #4479.10 Donations $43.00

This distribution brings the liability balance to $0 and expenses the donation, recording this in the income statement.

Month-End Close Procedures

  • All Parishes should close the month in PDS Ledger after all the bank reconciliations have been completed for the month.
  • The Month-End Close Checklist and Review Procedures (dated 8/2021) should be used.
  • This process should be completed within 2-3 weeks after month end.
  • After the close process is completed, all Parishes MUST sync their PDS Ledger program with the Diocese.