Forming Our Next Pastoral Council

Please read over the below information on the role and function of the council and the qualities. At the bottom of the page you will be able to list the names of parishioners, including yourself, whom you identify as having the gifts for parish pastoral council leadership.

The Role and Function of the Parish Pastoral Council

The primary responsibility of the Parish Pastoral Council is pastoral planning. The pastoral planning process is an ongoing, cyclical process which is always mission motivated. Pastoral planning involves discernment, consensus, prioritizing goals and objectives, implementation, and evaluation.

The Parish Pastoral Council works with the pastor and members of the pastoral team to discern needs, ensure that they are met and continually move the family of parishes towards the greater fulfillment of its mission.  Through constant attention to the life of the family of parishes and the greater community, the council identifies areas of concern and enables the family of parishes to reach out to those in need.  The traditional hallmarks of Christianity – Word, Worship, Community and Service – guide the council in evaluation of needs and the family of parishes’ response to them. Knowing that they cannot do all things at once, prioritizing goals help them to determine areas of greatest need or activities that are achievable within a 2 – 3 year time frame.

The Parish Pastoral Council practices discernment and consensus in the decision making process. Discernment and consensus require patience and respect. Discernment is a process of decision-making that utilizes listening to the Word of God, and reflecting on the mission of Jesus, the mission of the universal church and the mission of the family of parishes. Discernment requires an open mind and an open heart. A capacity for prayerful contemplation is essential in the discernment process.

Consensus is discerning together, as a council, as a body. Although the body of the Parish Pastoral Council has several members, when a decision has been made through prayerful discernment, the council expresses unity – unity of spirit, and unity of purpose. Coming to consensus requires dying to self and focusing on the common good, two attributes of discipleship. Consensus means not insisting on our own way. Consensus requires humility, honesty, integrity and gentleness.

In order to develop a spirit of unity and purpose, the Parish Pastoral Council finds opportunities for prayer and reflection, whether within meetings or on special occasions for study and retreat. It reflects on what it means to be a Christian in today’s world, on what it means to be a community in service to the world. It articulates local goals and objectives in relation to the mission which flows from the diocesan pastoral plan. The council looks back as well as forward with hope as it regularly evaluates its efforts and plans new responses in service to the mission of Christ in our local community.

The Parish Pastoral Council meets regularly, once a month. Occasionally, council members may be asked to be part of an ad hoc committee charged with researching or investigating a particular matter related to council deliberations. Key qualities needed in council members are the abilities to consider, reflect and recommend sound conclusions.

As we work through the parish discernment of new council members, pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Look around the parish to see those individuals whom you would recommend to serve on council or consider submitting your own name.

Qualities (Gifts) & Requirements For Parish Pastoral Council Members

The Parish Pastoral Council is a leadership body which works to discern the mission of the family of parishes and to envision the ways in which that mission is lived out.

As we seek to discern members to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council, we need to examine the qualities (gifts) that we are looking for in council members. Specifically, we are looking for leaders who embody the following qualities (gifts):

  • Desire for spiritual growth in oneself and in the family of parishes
  • Enthusiasm about the future direction of the family of parishes
  • Eagerness to facilitate decisions about direction family of parishes will take
  • Courage to work towards consensus in decision making
  • Capacity to listen outweighing the need to speak
  • Integrity in articulating what one has heard and what one believes
  • Ability to inspire and empower
  • Willingness to delegate
  • Flexibility and openness with people and ideas

                   From Revisioning the Parish Pastoral Council, by Gubish & Jenny, p. 160

All of the above contribute to the primary responsibility of council members, which is the:

  • Ability to study matters, weigh them and propose practical conclusions (Canon 511)

In other words, the pastor consults council members for their practical wisdom concerning the good of the family of parishes.

In addition, council members need to have the time to commit to attending the monthly meeting of council, an annual retreat, and other committee meetings as deemed necessary by Council. Council members must be a baptized Catholic, a member of the parish, a participant in the ongoing worship life of the parish and be at least 16 years of age.

If you feel these qualities (gifts) describe you and you would like to take an active role in helping set the direction for the family of parishes, I invite you to prayerfully consider if God is calling you to ministry on the Parish Council.

If you know another member of the parish who has these qualifications (gifts), pray about suggesting their name.  You can submit their name at the link below.