This unit engages learners in theological and empirical reflection on Catholic parish identity and mission in Australia today. A survey of demographic and cultural trends in Australia (and beyond) will assist in identifying the factors affecting the practice of the faith and the challenges facing those in pastoral ministry.

Key insights from Vatican II’s theology of the Church and its mission in relation with the world will be applied in developing an intentional pastoral approach that is grounded in tradition and culturally plausible. The Searching for Parish Engagement (SPES) model will be used to encourage critical reflection and evaluation of a range of pastoral initiatives that respond to the current context.

Unit code: DP2012C

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Identify key elements of the current cultural and demographic context and outline their implications for pastoral ministry, parish life and the task of evangelisation.


Describe key insights of Vatican ii’s vision of the church and illustrate how they can be contextualised within Australian parish life.


Critically engage the searching for parish engagement (spes) research findings to articulate and theologically assess pastoral options within parish life.


Communicate a coherent, theologically-based vision for catholic parish life that is grounded in tradition and which integrates cultural understanding.

Unit sequence

CT1000C or equivalent


Lectures, individual and group learning activities, seminars

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bullivant, Stephen. Faith and Unbelief. New York: Paulist Press, 2013.
  • Davison, Andrew, and Alison Millbank. For the Parish: A Critique of Fresh Expressions. London: SCM Press, 2010.
  • Dixon, Robert E. The Catholic Community in Australia, Australia’s Religious Communities Series. Adelaide: Openbook, 2005.
  • Dulles, Avery. Models of the Church. 2nd ed. New York: Doubleday Image, 2001.
  • Dumais, Marcel. After Emmaus: Biblical Models for the New Evangelization. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014.
  • Ganin, Carole. Shaping Catholic Parishes: Pastoral Leaders in the 21st Century. Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project Series. Chicago: Loyola Press, 2008.
  • Mallon, James. Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish. Mulgrave, VIC: Garret Publishing, 2014.
  • McEvoy, James Gerard. Leaving Christendom for Good: Church-World Dialogue in a Secular Age. Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books, 2014.
  • O’Collins, Gerald, and Mario Farrugia. Catholicism: The Story of Catholic Christianity. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
  • Pollefeyt, Didier, and Jan Bouwens. Identity in Dialogue: Assessing and Enhancing Catholic School Identity. Research Methodology and Research Results in Catholic Schools in Victoria, Australia. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2014.
  • Simon, William E. Great Catholic Parishes: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2016.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Directed reflection portfolio 1000 words

1000 30.0

Report on pre-reading 500 words

500 20.0

Major Essay 2500 words

2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 10 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000