What is a Pastoral Council?..... A Parish Pastoral Council, chaired by the pastor, is the pastoral planning body of the parish. A Parish Pastoral Council fosters participation of the entire parish in the life and mission of the church. The Council, as a consultative body, advises and assists the pastor in areas of pastoral concern. It develops and recommends parish pastoral plans through consensus in a atmosphere of prayerful reflection. Members of the Pastoral Council are to be representative of the entire parish recognizing and reflecting the parish's diversity.
The Following rules and guidelines were taken from a pdf document at www.dioceseoftyler.org the official web-site of our Diocese in Tyler Texas.
A. After the diocesan bishop has listened to the Presbyteral Council and if he judges it opportune, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish; the pastor presides over it, and through it the Christian faithful along with those who share in the pastoral care of the parish in virtue of their office give their help in fostering pastoral activity. This pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and is governed by norms determined by the diocesan bishop. (C 536)
B. A pastoral council is to be established and to be operative in every parish in the Diocese of Tyler.
C. The pastoral council relates to the pastoral life and growth issues of the parish community. The pastoral council is to be representative.
D. Role of the pastor: The pastor must preside at the council meetings and participate in its activities. He, in response to the Church's call to consultation, must call the council, seek counsel on matters affecting the life of the parish, participate in the interaction, be open and respectful to the voice of the parishioners and weigh seriously and respond appropriately to the collective wisdom or consensus of the council. He should also insure that the membership is representative of the whole parish, assist in the formation of all members, insure that the council's concerns reflect the whole Church, facilitate council members in building their own community of faith and assist in the preparation of council agenda. (C 528)
E. Non-acceptance of counsel: Normally, the pastor should not act contrary to the counsel given, especially when there is consensus. However, in matters that violate Church teaching or are contrary to diocesan policy, the pastor, after explanation to the council, must withhold acceptance. In cases of nonacceptance of counsel, for whatever reason, appeals may be made to the diocesan bishop
or his designee for clarification, consideration or arbitration.
F. Pastoral changes: When a pastor leaves a parish or dies, all formal activity of the pastoral council ceases until the new pastor or administrator reconvenes the council.
G. Purpose: The council is to be a representative body of the faithful whose focus is on the whole community, uniting the whole community and pursuing the mission of the Church. The council is convoked by the pastor, must respond to his call and questions, offer the best consultation possible and seek consensus when circumstances permit.
H. In his ministry, each pastor embraces the tradition of consultation by calling a pastoral council into reality. Once the council exists, he seeks their individual and collective opinion, as well as their consensus. Lay persons, on the other hand, consider seriously their call to serve the parish community as counselors. They commit themselves to providing the best possible counsel which is a result of prayer, reflection and dialogue as well as study, research and consultation with other parishioners. (C 127)
I. Membership: council members must;
1. be registered in the parish
2. have demonstrated a commitment to the parish community
3. be in full communion with the Catholic Church
4. commit themselves to spiritual growth
5. commit themselves to skills development as part of the Christian leadership process
6. be willing to commit the necessary time and energy to offer effective consultation
7. be determined by the parish community. In addition, the pastor may supplement the council by appointing other members for balanced representation of the parishioners. The number of such appointments may not exceed 1/3 of the number of members determined by the parish community.
J. Parochial vicars: It is important that the parochial vicar participate in pastoral council meetings.As he is appointed by the bishop to serve as a co-worker with the pastor, his role is distinct from that of parish staff persons employed by the pastor. (C 545)
K. Organization: Each council should determine its leadership by an appropriate process. Such leadership should include a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and a recorder. Each council should meet monthly, as well as when called by the pastor or council leadership. Each council is to develop its own organizational and functional guidelines.
L. Education Commission / Committee: An Education Commission/Committee, as a commission/committee of the Pastoral Council, has the responsibility of fact finding, communicating and making recommendations to the pastoral council for acceptance and authorization. The Council as a whole, is the decision making body. Therefore, where the varied educational needs and the size of the parish warrants it, serious thought should be given to the formation of either a Board of Education or a Religious Education Board.