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Essential Characteristics of a Parish Pastoral Council

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Essential Characteristics of a Parish Pastoral Council
Christian leadership is servant leadership. The leadership example of Jesus is one that truly is loving. He accepts people where they are. He is invitational, a gentle but firm servant. In the words of Jesus, ―the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve and to give his own life in ransom for many." (Mt. 20:28)

Essential Characteristics
of a Parish Pastoral Council

(Called to Serve, CDR, 2010)


1.   A parish council is advisory to the Pastor. Members of the council strive to bring the voices, needs and concern of the entire faith community to its work.  Under the leadership of their pastor, they work in concert with one another to serve the needs of the whole parish.

2.   A parish council is prayerful. A council is not simply a group of people who pray together, but a group who prays in order to discern the will of God for the parish community. A portion of each parish council meeting should be set aside for quality prayer and formation. Prayer and formation take place within the parish council meetings and at retreats or days of reflection.

3.   A parish council is pastoral. Through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist all Christians are called to be Christ in the world. The parish council tries to provide appropriate resources and methods to serve the people of the parish as they engage in the mission of the Church.

4.   A parish council is representative. Each council member endeavors to listen to parishioners and then faithfully present their concerns, ideas and questions to the parish council. The parish council is a representative body rather than a body of representatives. The council strives to represent varied aspects of the parish life so that faith needs are met.

5.   A parish council is discerning. The council functions in an atmosphere of prayer and openness to the Holy Spirit in order to become and remain grounded in faith and responsive to the Church's mission. Trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit, council members set aside their individual opinions and prejudices and listen to one another and to other parishioners.

6.   A parish council is prophetic. The parish council must have the courage and foresight to set the direction for the parish community, challenging the parish to grow in response to the gospel. Council members should read the signs of the times and interpret the path the parish should follow on its faith journey, communicating this forthrightly to the pastor.  The pastor for his part should respond and not ignore the advice.

7.   A parish council is enabling. The council endeavors to foster the faith growth of individual Catholics of the parish and the broader community.

8.   A parish council is collaborative. The parish council challenges its members, the parish staff, committees, organizations and other groups in the parish to work together. A clear, common understanding of the parish's mission fosters collaborative actions. All parishes must seek ways to collaborate with the diocese, other parishes in their cluster or LPA, their community organizations, and their congregations for the common good of the broader Church. 


Appendix D -Expectations
(Called to Served, CDR, 2010)

Expectations of Pastoral Council Members:
  1. To be an active member in the parish (in good standing) See Membership Criteria

  2. To be a person of prayer, one who prays for the parish and for the pastoral council.

  3. To worship within the parish

  4. To be aware of all ministries and key personnel in the parish

  5. To read the parish council constitution; ―"Called to Served", and other appropriate materials

  6. To be present for the public commissioning of the members of the pastoral council

  7. To attend the regularly scheduled meetings

  8. To read the minutes of the past meeting and the agenda of the next meeting prior to attendance

  9. To participate in the parish pastoral council retreat and the council's prayer and formation experiences

  10. To be available to assist with ministries

  11. To be concerned and work for the welfare of the entire parish

  12. To engage in collaborative/consensus decision making

  13. To live as a member of a community rooted in faith

  14. To be aware of the church beyond the parish (diocesan and universal)

  15. To be visible and identifiable in the parish and to attend major parish activities

  16. To be open to the needs and ministries of other parishes in your LPA

  17. To be willing to join in larger efforts of the Local Planning Area as those plans evolve

  18. To be a good listener and advisor

Pastoral Council Expectations of its Leadership/Executive Committee:
  1. To consult with the pastor and other members regarding council agenda

  2. To hold executive committee meetings as needed

  3. To establish a realistic time frame for council meetings and to determine the appropriate level of discussion of the various issues on the agenda

  4. To provide the agenda, minutes of previous meeting, and relative supportive materials for the members at least a week before a meeting

  5. To adhere to the agreed meeting schedule

  6. To arrive at decisions consensually

  7. To carry out the selection process as it is prescribed in the constitution

  8. To arrange for a public commissioning of the council members

  9. To establish an annual calendar

  10. To inform the parish about the work of the council


Support Services Expected of the Parish Community
  1. A suitable meeting place

  2. Secretarial assistance in typing, copying, and mailing of agenda, minutes, and other material as needed

  3. Provision of funds for the pastoral council retreat and other usual expenses

  4. Professional resourcing as needed




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