What is a Pastoral Council? What is their role in the faith community? How often does the group meet? What requirements are needed?”
First and foremost a Pastoral Council is a cross-section of our Eucharistic community. The council consists of men and women, young and old alike! Along with the ex-officio members of the Pastoral Staff (pastor, deacons, pastoral associate, faith formation director) the Pastoral Council will serve different terms, such as a 1, 2 or 3 year term.
The Pastoral Council is a consultative body for the pastor and the pastoral staff. Through reflection, prayer, planning, motivation and support, the pastoral council serves by helping identify and encourage those ministries or services that are needed for the growth of a living parish community, evaluated and implemented on a regular basis.
Today in the Archdiocese of Boston we’re seeing a shift in what councils do compared to previous decades. In the past many councils simply “rubber-stamped” whatever the pastor or staff wanted. Some councils of the past were simply a group of people who offered reports on activities that existed in parishes, or attempted to address issues that affected a particular “constituency” in the parish. Today’s council has a new agenda and a new responsibility.
Going forward, a Pastoral Council will continue to advise the pastor and the pastoral staff, but the council membership will need to be more visible in supporting the Local Pastoral Plan, will assist with the implementation of the plan, and will help the entire faith community discern its role to proclaim the Good News of Christ to others.
Pastoral Councils today will need to not only embrace the Pastoral Plan but help to make it become a reality in the lives of the members of the faith community. The Pastoral Plan provides a clear vision, practical goals, tasks and strategies, and the organizational structure that will continue to grow the collaborative. The Pastoral Council will, through prayerful reflection, assist with the implementation of the plan. To make this happen, the Pastoral Council will need to meet every other month from September to June (90 +/- minutes each meeting).
We envision a Pastoral Council that will be:
- Prayerful. The council devotes time to reflective prayer at each meeting.
- Pastoral. The council is pastoral in the sense that its purpose is to assist in the development of an overall mission plan for the parish in order to make Christ evermore present to the parishioners and to the wider community.
- Representative. The council members represent the entire parish community and exercise their responsibility with a concern that includes all parishioners.
- Discerning. Through a prayerful consensus process, the council merges the diverse experiences, skills and gifts of the council members.
- Responsive. The council has a responsibility to be sensitive to and cognizant of justice and peace issues at the local, national, and international level.
- Enabling. In the spirit of God’s love, the members of the Pastoral Council strive to recognize and support each other’s gifts and seek ways in which each parishioner’s gifts may surface, grow and flourish for the good of the Church.