What is a Pastoral Council

The Parish Pastoral Council - What Is a Parish Pastoral Council?

The following explanation of the role of the pastoral council is taken from Parish Pastoral Councils – A Framework for Developing Diocesan Norms and Parish Guidelines, March 2007, Sections 4.1 and 4.3.

The Parish Pastoral Council is a leadership group through which priests and people work together as partners in furthering the mission of Christ in their own place. It does this through building up a vibrant Christian community that is rooted in baptism and marked by its faith, worship and service.

To fulfil its role the Pastoral Council needs to be a representative body, in which the diversity of the parish community is reflected. It is a means whereby all parishioners can take part in all discussions that relate to the parish and its future development.

The primary ministry of the Parish Pastoral Council is to discern the way forward for the parish at the given time. It does this in the light of the gospel, the teaching of the Church, the ‘signs of the times’ and what the Holy Spirit is saying through the members of the local community.

Processes in which the Parish Pastoral Council is involved include:

Reflection and Planning
In collaboration with the parish community, identifying their needs and the challenges they face, and reflecting in dialogue with them on what needs to be done.

Enabling the baptised to discover their gifts, in response to the needs and challenges of the parish, and developing these gifts through the provision of training and on-going formation.

Providing structures that will marry the needs and the challenges of the parish with the gifts and resources in the parish and the diocese.

Ensuring that effective dialogue takes place within the parish, the diocese, and the wider community.

Reviewing the life and activities of the parish so that parishioners might have a sense of a developing dynamic Christian community.

The council’s pastoral interests include church liturgy, baptismal preparation, bereavement support, faith formation, communications within and without the parish, community care, and many others. Council members are not expected to carry out all of these activities themselves, though they may be involved in some of them, but it is their responsibility to empower the individuals and teams of people who do carry them out.

The pastoral council is not responsible for financial matters or for matters relating to parish property. Financial matters are the responsibility of the parish finance council while the parish property committee is responsible for the maintenance and development of parish property such as land, buildings, graveyards, car parks, etc. The pastoral council has an interest in all these matters and receives frequent reports about them but they are not the pastoral council’s responsibility.

The individuals and teams of people who assist the parish administrator maintain direct contact with him on a day-to-day basis. However, the two councils have the responsibility of establishing the teams, where they do not already exist, and of providing any necessary training, advice, assistance, or finance.

Of course, the parish administrator has overall responsibility for all parish matters and the councils and committees are there to advise and assist him.