The parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body mandated by diocesan statute. Each parish must have a pastoral council which is intimately involved in short and long range planning for the future of the parish. Its members advise the pastor and parish staff on major issues that affect the life of the parish as a whole. The pastoral council helps to set the tone of the parish, advises the pastor on strategic planning and assists in setting goals and objectives. The pastoral council assists the pastor and pastoral staff in setting the vision and direction for the parish. Ideally each member is also associated with one of the parish committees. Details regarding terms of office, selection and appointment to the pastoral council are contained in the statutes of the pastoral council. Periodically, new appointments are made and any parishioner may make known his or her desire to be appointed to this council or other parishioners may nominate members for appointment.
With the promulgation of The Code of Canon Law in 1983, the Parish Pastoral Council finds its roots in the law for the Universal Church. The experience of "parish councils" in the United States in the years following the Second Vatican Council helped prepare for this newly inaugurated consultative body. However, the Parish Pastoral Council as envisioned by the current law of the Church differs significantly from some models of parish councils. Below are some descriptive elements of Parish Pastoral Councils as envisioned the current law of the Church and subsequent implementation:
- By baptism, all Christians have a part to play in the life of the Church and especially in their local parish communities.
- By establishing Parish Pastoral Councils, the Church seeks to insure that parishioners, as co-workers and advisors to the pastor and pastoral staff, have a voice and active role in their parish.
- The Parish Pastoral Council is consultative to the pastor and through and with him to the pastoral staff and parish community.
- Parish Pastoral Council members are parish leaders. They are to assess the needs of the parish and advise the pastor and pastoral staff accordingly.
- A primary responsibility of the Parish Pastoral Council is to collaborate with the pastor and pastoral staff in the development of goals for the parish (using elements of the strategic planning process). This process is directed toward the development of a pastoral plan which is then implemented by the pastoral staff, parish committees, volunteers, organizations and parishioners.
- The Parish Pastoral Council is future-oriented carefully utilizing the tools of listening, assessment and planning to evaluate implementation of the current pastoral plan and to assist in updating it.
- The Pastor presides at Council meetings and it does not meet without him. Officers, a steering committee and other committees may be appointed but each council must have a secretary who records the results of discussions and actions to be taken.
- The work and good order of the parish is the priority. Parish Pastoral Council discussions take place with respect for all. The spirit is one of consultation and collaboration. Decisions are made through discernment, dialogue and consensus.
The document Lay Ministries: Handbook for Parishes and Institutions was promulgated by Bishop Donald W. Wuerl on December 8, 1994. Therein is found the following description of the work of the members of Parish Pastoral Councils:
- Actively seek information from the pastor, parish staff, and the parish at large regarding the pastoral needs of the parish community.
- Assist in developing or reviewing the parish mission statement.
- Advise the pastor in integrating the parish's goals and priorities into and ongoing pastoral plan.
- Recommend flexible strategies which support the parish's goals and priorities.
- Contribute to the evaluation of progress in achieving parish's pastoral plan.
In addition, the following criteria for membership on the Parish Pastoral Council are given:
- Fully initiated Catholics (having received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) who are registered and active in parish life and are in good standing with the Church.
- Persons with an understanding of and commitment to the Church as expressed in the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
- Committed to prayer, Gospel values, and growth in personal holiness.
- Knowledgeable about the life and teachings of Jesus, the mission of the Church, and the distinctive characteristics of the parish, its ministries and its people.
- Skilled in group process, interpersonal communication and collaboration.
- Willing to participate in on-going
- In accord with the universal law of the Church and diocesan statute, a Pastoral Council is hereby established for Saint Kilian Parish to advise and collaborate with the pastor and pastoral staff on matters related to the pastoral welfare of the parish with special attention given to planning, evaluation, and fostering participation in parish life.
- Pastoral Council membership shall consist of both appointed and ex-officio members.
- The ex-officio members shall include the pastor, parochial vicar(s), deacon(s), and all the members of the parish pastoral staff.
- The appointed membership shall consist of twenty-four members. Should members be unable to fulfil a term, the pastor shall appoint replacements as needed. At no time should the Council be composed of less than twenty appointed members.
- An appointed member must be a registered parishioner who has received the sacraments of initiation and is active in the practice of Catholic faith.
- The term for appointed members is three years (renewable), beginning in January.
- Regular meetings of the Pastoral Council take place in the following months: (January, March, June, September and November). Other meetings may be scheduled by the pastor as needs arise.
- A steering committee of the council, consisting of three members, will be appointed. The chief task of this committee is to consult with the pastor regarding items of importance to the parish at large which might be included on the agenda of a council meeting. This committee will have a chairperson who assists both the pastor and the council in tasks directly related to the work of the council or its meetings.
- The Pastoral Council may suggest the formation of any committee it deems necessary.
- The ordinary operative mode for the deliberations of the Pastoral Council shall be to arrive at a consensus. There may at times, however, be the need for an actual vote of the membership.
- The Pastor shall preside at all meetings of the Pastoral Council.
- A secretary shall be appointed to record the principal actions and significant points of deliberation at Pastoral Council meetings.
- Discernment, collaboration and consensus characterize the deliberations of the council.
- In the year in which terms are to expire, appointment of new members takes place in the following manner:
- September: All current members whose terms are due to expire are asked if they wish to be considered for appointment to an another term on the Pastoral Council; all current members of the Pastoral Council are asked to submit names of parishioners who might be asked to consider appointment on the Pastoral Council; all pastoral staff members are asked to submit names of parishioners who might be asked to consider appointment on the Pastoral Council.
- October : All parishioners are invited to submit names of those whom they feel might be considered for appointment to the Pastoral Council. They may submit their own name or someone else's.
- November: The pastoral staff shall review all the names submitted from all sources to insure that the names reflect the size and complexity of the parish and are those capable of serving the wide needs of the parish; at the November Pastoral Council meeting, all members present will be asked to review the slate and recommend twenty-four (24) names. The twenty-four (24) persons receiving the highest number of votes shall be presented to the pastor for appointment as the Pastoral Council for a term of three years (beginning in January).
Father Charles S. Bober - Pastor