Pastoral Council – A brief history

The Parish Pastoral Council – A Brief History

The Second Vatican Council ended in 1965. In its decrees the Council expressed a desire to involve the laity in the work of the Church and, as a result, many parishes set up parish councils. These were meant to advise and assist the parish priest in running the parish. They operated successfully for a few years but, in the end, suffered from focussing too much on financial, material, and administrative matters to the detriment of the pastoral needs of the parish.

In 1959, Pope John XXIII announced that the Code of Canon Law (i.e., Church law) was to be completely revised. The revision was finally completed twenty-four years later in 1983. The revised Code made provision for the establishment of parish pastoral councils which were to advise and assist the parish priest in carrying out his pastoral duties. Financial matters were to be the concern of a separate parish finance council.

As the number of priests declined, the need to involve the laity became increasingly pressing and the Irish bishops began in earnest to plan for the creation of pastoral councils throughout the country. Their aim was to have a pastoral council in every parish in Ireland.

Dunhill and Fenor Parish Pastoral Council was set up in October 2007 by Fr. Garrett Desmond who was the parish administrator at the time. There were fifteen members on the council – Fr. Desmond (the president), and fourteen lay members. The new council took part in four evenings of training provided by the Diocesan Commission for Pastoral Councils and held its first meeting on 11th December 2007. At this meeting three officers were elected – the chairperson, who facilitates the regular meetings, the secretary, who records the minutes and deals with correspondence, and the assistant secretary, who is responsible for the minutes and correspondence in the secretary’s absence. A vice-chairperson, who facilitates the meetings in the absence of the chairperson, was elected at the council meeting of 16th October 2008.

A meeting of the council is held every month except July and August.

In the summer of 2008, Fr. Desmond transferred to the parish of Newcastle and Fourmilewater as the new parish priest. He was replaced by Fr. Paul F. Murphy. In December 2013, Fr. Murphy transferred to the chaplaincy service of the Department of Defense. With the transfer of Fr. Murphy the parish was left without a resident priest and the parish was then serviced by the priests of the parish of Tramore and Carbally. The parish priest of Tramore and Carbally, Monsignor Nicholas O’Mahony, took on the additional roles of administrator of Dunhill and Fenor parish and president of its parish pastoral council.