Preparing Our Leadership

The Diocese and the parishes in the Diocese have many opportunities for lay member involvement in various leadership roles. The Diocese’s provides training for the below programs.

Article I


The name of this organization shall be “The Association of Parish Pastoral Associates of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg” and shall be referred to herein as the “APPA.”

Article II


This organization shall be composed of all those – deacons, vowed members of religious communities, and laypersons – ministering as pastoral associates on a full- or part-time, salaried basis in parishes within the Diocese of Harrisburg.

Article III


The purpose of the APPA of the Harrisburg Diocese is to provide its members with:

  • a faith community in which to gather for prayer and spiritual enrichment, and to plan retreats, days of prayer or other spiritually nourishing formation opportunities
  • an environment to support the membership’s dedication to authentic Catholic teaching and the goal of creating vibrant faith communities
  • a forum for confidential discussion of issues and concerns that arise from their shared ministry, with a view toward offering encouragement and support
  • an avenue for promoting quality and competence in ministry through mentoring and the sharing of useful information and resources
  • an opportunity to collaborate with the Secretariat for Parish and Special Ministries in the development of the role of Pastoral Associate

Article IV

Definition of Pastoral Associate

“Pastoral Associate” is the term used by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops and the Diocese of Harrisburg to designate someone who is professionally qualified to minister within a parish or institution, and who shares in the daily care of the faithful, as well as in needs assessment, planning and implementation of parish ministries and operation.

Pastoral Associates report directly to the pastor and have a broad range of responsibilities that may include duties within the following categories, as well as others not herein listed:

  • Pastoral – visiting and consoling the sick, dying and bereaved; or otherwise assisting those facing difficulties in their lives; coordinating evangelization programs for both active and inactive Catholics; meeting with new parishioners; contributing to the initial formation and ongoing development of parish ministries and groups, and in certain cases acting as the parish contact person for those ministries or groups; participating in Ecumenical and Interfaith activities; representing the pastor when necessary
  • Liturgical – leading communal prayer – e.g., parish prayer services – and wake and cemetery services; assisting in the planning and preparation for funerals or memorial services; assisting in the preparation for the sacraments of Baptism and Marriage; assisting in the planning of liturgical and sacramental celebrations; overseeing or assisting in the implementation of the RCIA process
  • Administrative – assisting in the overall process of parish administration, including pastoral planning, implementation, etc.; and directing volunteers as directed by the pastor.
  • Education and Youth – collaborating with appropriate staff members and volunteers in the ministries to youth and young adults, as well as adult religious education and formation.

Article V


The following officers will be elected for a term of two years at the spring meeting: Chairperson; Vice-Chairperson; Secretary. The Chairperson will facilitate the meetings and act as the spokesperson for the association. The Vice-Chairperson will facilitate in the absence of the Chairperson and be responsible for the membership. The Secretary will be responsible for correspondence, meeting summaries and special mailings that may be required.

Article VI


The association will meet on a quarterly basis: March; June; September; December Amendments can be made by 2/3 vote of the members present. All members of the association have voting status. Diocesan staff will be exofficio with a non-voting status.

All proposed recommendations and initiatives must have the support and approval of the office for Ministry Development and the Secretary for Parish and Special Ministries.

Approved: The Most Rev. Nicholas C. Dattilo
April 14, 2003
Ratified: Association of Parish Pastoral Associates
June 3, 2003

The Diocesan Conference of Health Care Ministers consists of those health care ministers approved by the Bishop for ministry in health care facilities.

Purpose of the Conference

The Conference exists in order to:

  • Convene members of the conference to formulate and present to the Bishop the concerns of the ministers.
  • Provide a resource and support group for those in the health care ministry.
  • Assist in the formulation of diocesan policy and procedures with regard to health care ministry.
  • Assist in proposing standards for the education of all health care ministers.
  • Sponsor special enrichment programs for all involved in the pastoral care of the sick.

Role of the Secretary for Catholic Life and Evangelization

  • The conference communicates to the Bishop as a corporate body through the Secretary.
  • The Secretary publishes the minutes of the conference meetings.
  • The Secretary’s office provides staff service to the conference.
  • The Secretary visits each chaplain in his/her ministry and acts as an individual liaison between chaplain and the Bishop. The Secretary acts as a resource for the Diocesan Priests’ Personnel Committee regarding the appointment of hospital chaplains
  • Chairperson: The chairperson of the Conference is elected for two years by the majority vote of the members present at the winter meeting.
  • Committees: The chairperson, along with the Secretary for Catholic Life and Evangelization will designate committees as needed. The Secretary is an ex-officio member of all committees. An Executive Committee, appointed by the Chairperson, will assist in the directing of Conference matters.
  • Meetings: There will be three Conference meetings a year: Spring, Fall and Winter. One meeting will be reserved for the attendance of the Bishop. A majority of members must be present to constitute a quorum.

In response to the challenge of the new millennium we are striving to support the parishes in their role as a caring apostolate as they reach out to those who are in need.

The Helping Ministry Advisory Committee will:

  • Recognize the programs and the efforts of the parishioners as they share their unique talents within their faith community.
  • Support the current programs offered by various parishes and assist the dissemination of information about these successful programs to others.
  • Aid in the development of an integrated model to exemplify the programs under the banner of caring ministries.
  • Develop and conduct workshops throughout the diocese to address specific concerns and needs for resources presented by the parishes.

The American Nurses Association “Scope and Standards of Faith Community Nursing Practice”, defines a Faith Community Nurse as “a professional, registered nurse who serves as a member of the ministry staff of a faith community to promote health as wholeness of the faith community, its family and individual members, and the community it serves through the independent practice of nursing as defined by the Nurse Practice Act in the jurisdiction in which he or she practices and the standards of practice set forth in the ‘Scope and Standards of Faith Community Nursing Practice’ document.”


  • Graduate of an accredited school or college of nursing
  • Current licensure as a professional registered nurse (RN)
  • Three or more years of nursing experience in a clinical setting
  • Possession of a valid driver’s license


  • Health Counselor: Assists individuals and families understand and cope with health-related concerns. May visit with parishioners in their homes, in hospitals and long term care facilities, or at established times in a parish office.
  • Health Educator: Provides and arranges presentations, programs and discussions on health-related topics in an effort to promote the understanding of the relationship between lifestyle, faith and health.
  • Referral Source: Facilitates the connection of parishioners with resources and support services in the parish and surrounding community.
  • Facilitator: May coordinate volunteers and support groups within the parish.
  • Pastoral Partner: Works with and assists the pastor by assessing the health status of the parish community and responding as needed.

It is essential for the parishes of our diocese to be both centers of worship and centers of service in the lives of their parishioners. Assisting those members of our parishes who struggle with life’s daily challenges by offering prayer and support strengthens the entire faith community.

Each parish in the diocese is unique, with a different mixture of age, health, and economic status. The pastor, together with the entire parish community, has the responsibility to reach out in love and service to those who are ill, homebound, dying or bereaved. Parishes can play a significant role in meeting the needs of these parishioners by developing a caring apostolate.

A formalized program of visitation to the elderly, the infirm, those preparing for death and those who are suffering the loss of a loved one is the cornerstone of may parish programs. These visits help to penetrate the isolation many people experience when health, age, or grief removes them from the ordinary daily activities. In addition to visitation, parishes can play a vital role in the area of health education and preventative health measures by utilizing professional nurses with the parish. Developing a parish caring ministry need not be complicated or burdensome. It should be creative and life giving in the spirit of Christ who has called each of us to share our love and compassion with those in need.

Assistance is available as your parish begins to develop or expand a ministry of caring. A Diocesan Helping Ministries Advisory Committee has been formed to provide training and resources to parishes in support of efforts to meet the needs of their parishioners.

Presenters are available to come to the parish and offer training in the areas of Faith Community Nurse Programs; Caring Community Programs and Outreach; End of Life Issues. To learn more about this parish training, contact us!

Please read Checklist When Entering a Hospital for more additional information on our brochure for more information on hospitalization.

Guidelines for Parish Nurse Program

To assist parishes in forming a Caring Community, the manual , “Opening Our Hearts: Building Parish Communities of Healing and Caring,” has been developed. This 55-page document offers norms and guidelines for Parish Nurse Program as well as Caring Communities. Examples of parish models currently being used by parishes in our diocese are in the manual as well as other valuable resources and suggestions. To receive a copy of this manual, please contact us.