Introduction to Parish Pastoral Council
In his Apostolic Exhortation at the Beginning of the New Millennium, Pope St John Paul II stated that “the Church of the Third Millennium will need to encourage all the baptised and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church’s life.” The Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity of Vatican II noted that as: “Participators in the function of Christ, priest, prophet and king, the laity have an active part of their own in the life and action of the Church... Nourished by their active participation in the liturgical community...they should develop the habit of working in the parish in close union with their priests, of bringing before the ecclesial community their own problems, world problems and questions regarding personal salvation, to examine them together”.
Parish Pastoral Councils, like so many other structures, are only useful if they enable the baptised to engage in the mission of the Church more fruitfully. Unless they give expression to the needs and mission of the local Church they are but ‘talkshops’.
It is important that Parish Pastoral Councils, reflect upon the Mystery of Christ and respond to His teaching in the light and spirit of the Beatitudes:
“Blessed [are] the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed [are] they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed [are] the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed [are] they who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed [are] the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed [are] the peacemakers: for they shall be called Children of God”. (Mt 5)
The pastoral council has only a consultative vote, and it is regulated by the norms laid down by the diocesan bishop.
Please click on the following link to download a pdf of Diocesan Norms & Constitution for Parish Pastoral Councils Diocese of Lancaster.
Parish Pastoral Councils are not an end in themselves, but are at the service of mission and evangelization. Parish Pastoral Councils should have pastoral work as their concern and thus be an instrument that enables priests and people to work together to build up a dynamic Christian community that is characterised by faith, mission, worship and service.
In particular they should facilitate the coordination of parish services regarding:
- proclaiming the Word of God and developing faith formation, especially for the young,
- fostering the sacramental, liturgical and prayer life of the parish,
- supporting marriage and family life,
- enabling the lay faithful to carry out their particular vocation of shaping society in accordance with the Gospel.
- strengthening commitment to social justice and caring for the poor and marginalised.
Parish Pastoral Councils should also:
- encourage leadership in initiatives reaching out to young people and engaging them in their journey of faith;
- look to ways of welcoming new members into their communities and ensure that people of different nationalities and culture find their place in the liturgy and parish life;
- address creatively the particular social challenges of the parish and ensure that the parish community is sensitive to the needs of all.
In order to carry out this mission, Parish Pastoral Councils should see their task in
- Prayerfully discovering the needs of the parish and involving everyone in a response.
- Enabling the baptised to discover their call as Disciples of Christ.
- Providing the necessary structures that will marry the needs of the parish with the many gifts and resources of the community.
- Ensuring that all voices within the parish, the diocese and the wider community are heard and respected.
- Reviewing the life and activities of the parish so that these are seen to foster the Mission of the Church.