The Role of The Parish Pastoral Council
The key to the role of members on the “Parish Pastoral Council”, lies in the word “Pastoral”. The main role of the Parish Council is to collaborate with the Parish Priest in his task to minister to the pastoral needs of the parish. It is important that at the outset of a new council, all members are clear about the council’s role.
The Parish Priest, in his Pastoral Ministry, needs to set a vision, plan and put the plan into action. For a parish to function healthily, members of the Parish Council need to assist him in this task. And in order to do so, they must know what is going on in the parish that they may assist him in coordinating effort and initiate action where necessary. It does not mean that members have to do all the work themselves, for a Parish Council is one that can draw on other parishioners to share their time and talent in building up the local Church that is the Parish. Towards this end, members need to get to know a wide a circle of parishioners as possible, and this is only possible if members are active in the parish – firstly in Sunday worship (Mass), and then in parish life.
The main functions of members are:
- To be a source of ideas for Pastoral Initiatives
- To act as a sounding board for the Parish Priest if and when he needs different viewpoints and opinions on Pastoral Matters
- To assist in making sure that when resources (people or material things) are needed to implement any Pastoral Initiatives, they are acquired
- To assist in ensuring that Pastoral Plans are carried out
- To evaluate the results
Members of the Parish Council bring the gift of service to the team. In building the parish community, members contribute their own specific gifts and charisms, expertise, perspective, skills and knowledge to the Council. This require time, talents and effort to be contributed in a collegial manner for the good of the Parish Community.
The Parish Pastoral Council seeks to enrich the life of the Parish by providing and creating opportunities for parishioners to grow in holiness, and to discover and live out their personal and communal call to Mission, to live as Catholics/Christians who are ‘salt of the earth’, and ‘light to the nations’.
Members of the Parish Pastoral Council are expected to:
- Commit positively and enthusiastically to the task of the Council, upholding always its Catholic values and moral code.
- Attend all scheduled meetings. When circumstances arise where attendance is not possible, to offer an apology in advance to the Chairperson or the Parish Priest. A Council member who misses three consecutive meetings without an official apology ceases to be a member of the Council.
- Prepare for the meeting by:
- Remembering to pray for Parish, and the work of the Council
- Reading and material that has been sent out before the meeting (agenda, issues, minutes, etc)
- Be willing to contribute time and talents to the initiatives agreed upon at the meetings
- Have a more visible presence in the life of the Parish Community, taking a pro-active interest in Parish Groups that he/she may better represent parishioners.
- Keep an eye and an ear open in the Parish environment as to some of the Pastoral Issues that may have arisen and to inform the Parish Priest of them prior to the Council meetings.
- Discern at the end of each term of office whether to continue to serve on the Council.
Guidelines for Parish Council Membership
As the work of the Parish Council is to assist the Parish Priest in his Pastoral Ministry, the Council cannot operate without him. They work in collaboration with him, and the membership reflects that;
The Parish Priest may invite members on board for Pastoral reasons, and nominate positions that are “ex-officio” – meaning that some people enjoy automatic membership on the council by the fact of their office or responsibility.
In Fr Michael Pui’s tenure as Parish Priest, his ‘ex-officio’ members include;
- The Principal of OLV School
- A member representing the Parish Finance Council
- The Liturgy Coordinator
Other members may be brought on to the Council by the Parish Priest’s invitation or elected by Parishioners at an election held once a year. The latter will be the ideal to which the Parish Priest will strive towards.
Ex-officio members are there as long as they are able to serve.
The term of membership for all other members is three years, with the right to renew that for another three years. If, a member has served to consecutive terms, he/she must have at least a year’s break before being considered for membership again.
The total membership (excluding the “ex-officios”) is not to exceed 9.
Guidelines for Parish Council Meetings
At the end of the previous calendar year, members are to decide the time, date and location of Council meetings for the year. There should be at least 6 meetings in each year, although meetings should be ‘scheduled’ for each month of the year from March to December. Any member of the Parish or invited quests can attend the meeting, which will be advertised in the Church’s bulletin and/or website. Speaking rights are granted to non-Council attendees at the discretion of the Council.
- Welcome and Apology
- Spiritual Reflection and/or Prayer
- Minutes of last meeting
- Matters arising and any follow up
- Pastoral Issues and action to be put in place.
- Closing Prayer and reminder of next meeting
Debate and Contribution to the Meetings
There would be matters in the daily running of the parish that the Parish Priest exercises without any reference to the Council. However, when he includes it on Agenda for meeting or raised it as a Pastoral Issue for the Meeting to consider, it is because he needs the advice of the Council, or assistance in planning and putting into action some pastoral initiatives or response.
The Parish Council works in collaboration with the Parish Priest. He may, because of the pastoral sensitivity known only to him choose not to heed certain advice. In any Pastoral Issue or discussion that may be contentious, members can agree to disagree, and choose to have their differed opinion recorded in the minutes. However, in all situation, Christian charity must always be exercised.
The role of the Chairperson is to ensure that all discussion/debate are brought to a timely conclusion and that everyone who wishes to contribute to any discussion is given the opportunity.