4.2 Planning To Establish A Parish Pastoral Council
The establishment of a Parish Pastoral Council should follow a carefully planned process.
STEP 1: Form a Planning Group
Existing parish leaders may initiate the setting up of a Parish Pastoral Council by appointing a small representative group to prepare the parish and plan the process of selecting Council members.
The parish should be advised that a group has been formed to work towards the establishment of a Parish Pastoral Council.
The parish newsletter and spoken announcements during Sunday Mass could be used to publish the membership of the group and be a point of contact for inquiries.
The planning group or current leaders should provide parish members with information on Parish Pastoral Councils, and arrange a process for selection of a pastoral council. This exchange of information and ideas could take place at the same time as the activities outlined in Step 2.
STEP 2: Explain the purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council
The basic role of a Pastoral Council is the same in all parishes. The planning group should read widely, speak with Diocesan parish support staff and to other parishes.
From such discussions, the planning group should begin to explain the purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council.
? Assisting with overall parish planning and future direction, and checking to ensure the progress of the plan
? Inviting and encouraging parishioners to share their gifts for the benefit of others,
Communication between the planning group and other members of the parish is essential during this preparation stage.
The role of the proposed Pastoral Council could be shared through parish newsletters, talks by members of the planning group at weekend Masses and at special parish gatherings.
In parishes with people of different national backgrounds and varying fluency in English, efforts should be made to provide information in languages other than English and in ways that explain what is occurring and why. In some situations it is not just translation into other languages that is required; the principle of the laity sharing the pastoral leadership may be unfamiliar and need to be explained.
STEP 3: Define the expectations of Parish Pastoral Council members
When the role of the Parish Pastoral Council has been agreed upon, the planning group can consider the role(s) of Pastoral Council members. These might include activities such as
? participating actively in regular (e.g. monthly) meetings
? making friendly contact with some parish groups, sharing the parish vision and seeking input into parish planning
? learning the means by which individuals, groups and parishes evangelise through training courses and through visitation of other parishes and other Churches
? seeking to understand wider community issues, and planning the practical steps to involve the parish in these
? contributing to the development of parish pastoral plans
? representing the parish at functions arranged by deanery or vicariate, other local churches, community groups and the diocese.
Next, the planning group should draft a list of desired qualities and gifts of Parish Pastoral Council members. The group may decide that Councillors should be
? adult members of the parish
? able to participate in all Pastoral Council meetings for a minimum of two years, and to engage in several more hours activity per month (or whatever time the parish believes necessary)
? able to listen to other points of view and consider a variety of issues
? able to acknowledge his/her own gifts and affirm the gifts of other members and parishioners
? sufficiently confident to initiate relationships with other parish members, and to maintain a confident relationship with the parish priest
? able to reflect on the life of the community
? able to plan pastorally
? willing to grow in faith and to share some of this with other members
? willing to strive for a better understanding of the total role of the Church and to become a more educated and complete member of the local Christian community.
The planning group should publish the list of desired qualities and gifts of Council members and invite comment and suggestions for additions or clarification. As in the previous step, some parishes will need to provide this information in languages other than English.
STEP 4: Choose a selection process
The planning group can now decide on a process for selecting Parish Pastoral Council members.
Two options are outlined below. All processes involve communication between the planning group and other parishioners.
OPTION A: Public call for nominations and voting by all parishioners.
This process is assisted by preliminary information about the Parish Pastoral Council's role and membership criteria being printed in the parish newsletter, and outlined at weekend Masses and or at special gatherings to discuss the Pastoral Council. This is a familiar and public process. It assumes nominees understand the role they are accepting, and that parishioners know the nominees,
OPTION B: A few public meetings where the Parish Pastoral Council's role is developed by participants and nominations are called for from participants.
Voting or selection is then by other participants or all parishioners. If it is decided that selection/voting is by meeting participants only, a short discernment process call replace the ballot paper so that participants can collaboratively decide on whom they are calling to membership.
Next: 5. Parish Pastoral Councils In Action >>>