5.7 Dealing with issues that arise during the year
It is important that what has been planned for the year by the Parish Pastoral Council is addressed and followed through. Some plans will inevitably require some adjustment as the year proceeds, and some members who have a talent for keeping an eye on the plans might help by proposing how these can be modified.
Not all issues or circumstances can be predicted when a yearly plan is written, however. There will always be new concerns, issues or requests which are put to the Pastoral Council throughout the year some will present themselves to those who set the agenda, others will be raised spontaneously during meetings.
Because the Council's role is one of building community and Council members want to show that they are responsive and responsible, there will be pressure to deal with all matters raised. Nevertheless, a well-meaning attempt by the Parish Pastoral Council to react to all matters can, in the long term, mean the Council's energy is taken away from its primary tasks.
How do we decide how to handle issues that arise during the year?
Consider the following questions:
- Is the issue one that concerns a significant aspect of parish life?
- Is the issue one to which the whole Parish Pastoral Council can validly contribute? Or would it be more helpful to refer it directly to a staff member, Pastoral Council sub-committee, another parish group or parishioner to follow up? (e.g. a request to introduce Communion Services is a Parish Pastoral Council concern; a plumbing proposal to re-direct rainwater from the carpark might be referred to a maintenance person).
- What is required to address this issue? (e.g. merely pass on the information; discuss detailed possibilities and repercussions; or make a decision on behalf of the parish). Does the Pastoral Council have the information and experience to deal appropriately with the issue? If not, should further information be obtained before addressing this issue?
- What other issues or tasks are being deferred by introducing this new issue? Is the Parish Pastoral Council developing a habit of reacting to the most recent issue and avoiding the planned longer term and possibly more difficult issues?
Who decides how to handle items that arise during the year?
There are a variety of options including:
- an agenda committee,
- the chairperson,
- the full Parish Pastoral Council during a brief item at each meeting, e.g. correspondence.
In each case it is important that the Council is notified of all correspondence and what has happened to it. This is to ensure that parishioners can be sure that the Council has heard their voice and has responded.
Does every issue require a response?
As a general rule, all items brought to the Parish Pastoral Council by members, parishioners or others should be responded to in some way. The questions are, what is an appropriate response and who should make that response? Options include:
- a note by the Council secretary acknowledging receipt of the letter,
- a detailed reply in writing or in person by an appropriate Council member,
- referral of the matter to a staff member or parish committee which will take action and report to the person who raised the issue, and
- a public acknowledgement of the changes that have been made as a result of consideration of the issue.
Next: 5.8 Formulating a Parish Pastoral Council Charter >>>