In welcoming members of the Catholic community serving on the reconstituted Diocesan Pastoral Council to their first meeting, Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Pastoral Center in Richmond, Bishop Barry C. Knestout outlined what he hopes they will provide to the diocese.

“The role for you — as individuals, as Catholics, as those on the spiritual journey — is to share your insights, your expertise, to these issues and to speak with your voice to help me understand them,” he said.

As the council is an advisory body, the bishop said he would seek their input on policies, pastoral initiatives and pastoral planning.

“It’s really to express your insights and understanding, knowing your parish and the area around you, what you experience and what others are telling you,” Bishop Knestout said. “All of that is important and valuable.”

He noted that the work of the Diocesan Pastoral Council would include consultation, collaboration and communication — the same elements that are integral to the Diocesan Finance Council and the Presbyteral Council.

The introductory meeting provided Bishop Knestout with a chance to meet the individuals who volunteered to be on the council and/or who were recommended by their local deans and the bishop’s staff. They were selected based on their experience and leadership positions within their local churches, as well as on the regional and diocesan level.

During the meeting, Dennis Corcoran of Corcoran Consulting, LLC provided members with training, orientation and expectations on how the pastoral council will function. The Diocesan Pastoral Council is composed of nine women, one of whom is a religious, and nine men, one of whom is a deacon. It is scheduled to meet four times per year. The members and their parishes are:

• Diane Anderson, Star of the Sea, Virginia Beach

• Suzy Bane, Holy Family, Pearisburg

• Carey Bliley, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond

• Todd Ellis, St. Bede, Williamsburg

• Geoff Gasperini, St. Bridget, Richmond,

• Angela Harris, Basilica of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Norfolk

• Rosario Igharas, Our Lady of Lourdes, Richmond

• Paulita Mattheny, St. John, Highland Springs

• Harry Montoro, St. Andrew, Roanoke

• Richard Murphy, St. Paul, Portsmouth

• Ahn Nguyen, Church of the Vietnamese Martyrs, Richmond

• Sister Brenda Query, an Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister, St. Gregory the Great, Virginia Beach

• Paul Roderique, Holy Name of Mary, Bedford

• Polly Siemann, St. Joseph, Hampton

• Patti Smith, Christ the King, Abingdon

• William Wyatt, Blessed Sacrament, Harrisonburg

• Alan Yost, Holy Comforter, Charlottesville

• Deacon Bob Young, St. Joseph, Petersburg

Editor’s note: In an upcoming Christ Our Hope column, Bishop Knestout will write about the Diocesan Pastoral Council and why it is important to the life of the diocese.