Guidelines of Parish Pastoral Council

Statement of Vision
Purpose of the Pastoral Council
Key Members’ Responsibilities
The Discernment Process
Pastoral Council Membership
Meetings
Relationship with Pastor and Staff
Relationship with Finance Council
Guideline Revisions


Statement of Vision

The Pastoral Council of St. Noel Church will be directed and governed by the guidelines as set forth in this document.

The following “Beginning Statement of Vision” is offered as an expression of the beliefs and values of St. Noel Parish pending the approval and adaptation of the Pastoral Council.

“A Beginning Statement of Vision”
We the Catholic Christian community of St. Noel, are a people called together by the Holy Spirit. Recognizing the differences among us, we continually seek unity through the worship of One Lord, the ministries that flow from One Faith, and the acceptance of each other as members of One Family.

We deeply value and are inspired by the Word of God which transforms us, challenging us to live out Gospel values in our daily lives, inviting us to participate in the saving work of Christ, calling us to respect and reverence all life. We praise and worship God, bringing all that we are to our celebration of Eucharist, where we find Christ present in work, Sacrament, and Community; thus nourished, in faith we go forth healed, strengthened and renewed to serve God and others.

Based on these strong traditions and empowered by the Holy Spirit to use our gifts, we seek to be a people of God’s will who strive to live our faith with meaningful action by sharing our time, talent and resources through:

– passing on our faith to our children
– witnessing, as a community and as individuals, our faith and our fellowship with God through Jesus to all
– offering hospitality, care, God’s healing presence and the opportunity to serve within our community and beyond
– seeking spiritual growth and a deepening relationship with Jesus through our commitment to prayer, worship, Scripture, community and ongoing study
– acknowledging our oneness with the larger Catholic community, our relationship with other Christian traditions and our openness to all people of good will.

“If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together.”
Ephesians 4:15-16


Purpose of the Pastoral Council

The purpose of the Pastoral Council is to promote the spiritual growth of the parish community and to plan ways for the parish to carry out the spiritual mission of the church.

It is not the purpose of the Pastoral Council to assume the administrative responsibility of the parish which are to be carried out by the pastor in conjunction with the parish staff and Finance Council. Rather it is the task of the Pastoral Council to guide the direction and priorities of pastoral life out of which the administrative responsibilities flow.

The Pastoral Council promotes the spiritual growth of the parish and plans ways for the parish to carry out the church’s mission through the following four interdependent functions:

Spiritual Formation
The primary concern of the Pastoral Council is the spiritual growth of the parish community. The Council is committed to the ongoing spiritual renewal of parish life. Council members need to commit themselves to prayer and the study of church teachings and seek to serve as a model to the parish of prayer, cooperation, celebration and service.

Pastoral Planning
The Council is the pastoral planning body of the parish. It ensures ongoing collaboration among the people of the parish to assure that the ministries and life of the community promote the full mission of the church. While other groups focus on a specific ministry, the Pastoral Council is responsible for determining how the parish can be most effective in fulfilling its total mission. The Council discern what needs to be supported, changed, or developed to make the parish more faithful to the call of God.

This responsibility requires that the Pastoral Council will annually:

  1. listen to and evaluate the overall experience and quality of life of the parish community.
  2. develop (or update) and then recommend parish pastoral plans and priorities for the future.

The pastoral Council also serves as a planning review body. It provides consultation to the pastor regarding proposed goals, pastoral policies, or programs developed by the staff or other groups — especially those that may involve significant change in or impact upon the life of the parish community.

Pastoral Policy Development
The Pastoral Council develops, reviews, and recommends pastoral policies. Although the Pastoral Council is a consultative body whose decisions are recommendations to the pastor, the pastor is responsible to ensure that major pastoral proposals developed by the staff or others be brought to the Pastoral Council for its review and recommendation.

Communication
The Council is responsible to communicate regularly wit the members of the parish community. This will be accomplished in part by the sponsoring of an annual parish-wide meeting, the interaction of Council members with various parish groups under the direction of the Liaison Coordinator, the timely publishing of the minutes of the council, and the ability of any parish member to bring appropriate concerns to the Council. The Pastoral Council will also communicate with the diocesan community and support communications with other faith communities and the local civic community.


Executive Committee and Officers’ Responsibilities

Each new Pastoral Council will determine an Executive Committee through the process of discernment. The Executive committee will include the Pastor, chairperson, Vice-chairperson, Liaison Coordinator and Secretary.

The Executive Committee will meet several weeks prior to each Pastoral Council meeting to prepare the Council agenda, plan the meeting and set in place the processes necessary to accomplish the agenda. The agenda and any reading assignments to be done in preparation for the next meeting will be mailed to the Pastoral council members a week in advance.

The Chairperson will work closely with the Pastor to animate the Council and assist Councilors to actively collaborate for the mission of the Church. The Chairperson attends to the organizational aspects of the Council and Chairs all meetings of the Council. The Chairperson needs to have an understanding of group process and have facilitating skills in order to fulfill this role with freedom and impartiality.

The Vice-Chairperson chairs meeting in the Chairperson’s absence and attends to other designated ongoing responsibilities which will be determined in consultation with the chairperson.

The Liaison Coordinator will oversee the following process. All members of the Pastoral Council, other than the officers and staff person, will have liaison responsibilities to one or more ministries within the parish. Council members will be liaisons to ministries other than those in which they participate. Liaisons will introduce themselves to the ministries to Which they have been assigned, explaining their role as liaison. Thereafter the liaison will be in touch with the ministries as needed.

The Secretary will be a non-council, non-staff person who will receive a stipend for the work done. This work will include secretarial assistance and taking minutes of the Pastoral Council meetings. The Secretary will send the minutes to all Pastoral Council members the week after Council meets for additions or corrections. The minutes will be posted in the narthex and summarized wither in the bulletin or in the verbal announcements. Extra copies will be available for those who request them.


The Discernment Process

St. Noel Pastoral Council is committed to the use of a discernment process both in the selection of its members and in its responsibility to make recommendations.

By discernment is meant the consciously Christian intention to reach decisions which are in harmony (or more in harmony) with God’s will. As St. Paul writes “Do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ROM. 12.2)

Although voting can be a part of the process, the commitment to discernment discourages a decision-making process based simply on majority rule. Rather the decision-making process provides adequate time for education, persuasion, and attention to the minority voices in the discussion. For lit is believed that it is precisely in this process that God’s will can emerge.

The aim of discernment is always to reach a consensus among the group members. To facilitate this consensus, adequate time should be given for:

  1. each individual to reach his or her own decision
  2. the sharing of these individual decisions with the entire group
  3. reevaluation of individual decisions in light of the group sharing and especially the reasoning of the minority positions.
  4. attempting to build a common consensus that the entire group can own.

Because the Pastoral Council is a group built upon spiritual foundations, it is appropriate for the Council to employ this spiritual process of discernment in which members fully expect God’s will to be recognized. In order for discernment to function effectively it will be necessary for the members of the Council to:

  1. be free from an excessive attachment to one’s own opinions and selfish goals, and from any prejudice or bias
  2. be committed to develop a spiritual vision which will sense the will of God
  3. be desirous to decide an issue on the basis of what will promote the spiritual good of the parish rather than what is most efficient, profitable, or productive for public acclaim or publicity.

Pastoral Council Membership

Selection of Members
St. Noel will offer a parish-wide education process before the Pastoral Council selection process begins. This education process will involve a number of approaches such as public announcements, parish mailings, etc.

Recommendations for potential Pastoral Council members will be accepted from all parishioners. Parishioners can recommend more than one person and they can recommend themselves.

Parishioners who would be effective members of Council would possess the following traits:

– willingness to spend time praying and reflecting with others
– time, enthusiasm, and interest for the responsibilities of the Pastoral Council
– concern for the interests and pastoral needs of the parish as a whole, rather than just representing the interests of a particular group in the parish
– capability for working harmoniously with others
– capability for delegating to others
– patience to tolerate the slow process involved in the visioning and discernment responsibilities of the Council
– willingness to make a commitment to the formation process and a three year term on the Council

Parishioners who have been recommended, wither by others or by themselves, and have accepted their recommendation, will participate in a formation process. This process will consist of four or five sessions with the aim of education, creating cohesiveness and sharing faith. All parishioners are welcome to participate in these sessions. At the conclusion of these sessions, those who are open to serve on the Pastoral Council will be invited to enter a process, which will determine the persons who will serve on the Council.

Members of the Pastoral Council will serve a three year term, with no more than two members carrying over for a second term. No one can serve more than two consecutive terms.

The total number of Pastoral Council members will be between 13 and 15 and will include the following:

9-11 The number of members discerned will vary depending on the number of members who carry over from the previous council.
1 Person from the staff, appointed by the Pastor in consultation with the staff.
1 or 2 Optional members appointed by the Pastor if needed.
1 Pastor

13 to 15 Total
The selection of Pastoral Council members will take place every three years.

The process for filling vacancies will be determined by the Pastoral Council.


Council Meetings

The Pastoral Council will normally meet the third week of the months of September, November, January, March or April, May or June. Additional meetings may be called as needed.

A day of retreat will be planned for February of each year and every meeting will include time for prayer, reflection and ongoing formation of the Council.

Any member of the parish is able to submit appropriate issues for consideration for the Council agenda. Items to be considered should be presented in writing, with a signature, to a member of the Executive Committee before the board meeting of the particular month in which the Council meeting is taking place. Non-members of Council may speak to their concern if the issue is on the agenda and they have asked to address the Council.

Regularly scheduled meetings will be open to parishioners as observers but the Pastoral Council may call a closed meeting or close a portion of any given meeting when confidentiality is required.

The quorum for any Pastoral Council meeting will be 2/3 of total membership.

The Pastoral Council will carry out its discussions and made recommendations based on a process of discernment.


Guideline Revisions and More

Relationship with Pastor and Staff
The Pastoral Council is a consultative body which makes recommendations to the Pastor. The Pastor is to serve on the Pastoral council and is to consult the Pastoral council on matters of major pastoral concern. The staff, in consultation and collaboration wit the Pastor, implements the parish’s pastoral plan, taking responsibilities in their particular areas of concern.

Relationship with Finance Council
The Finance Council and the Pastoral Council cooperate in their mutual concern for the life and mission of the parish. This Finance Council looks to the Pastoral council for a mission statement of the parish, a pastoral plan, and parish priorities. The Pastoral council looks to the Finance Council for sound financial guidance regarding the resources needed to develop and implement parish plans, programs and policies.

Guideline Revisions
The Pastoral Council Guidelines may be revised, in all or part, by a process of consensus and discernment. Written notification of proposed changes will be sent to all members two weeks prior to the meeting at which changes are to be discussed.


Guideline Revisions and More

Relationship with Pastor and Staff
The Pastoral Council is a consultative body which makes recommendations to the Pastor. The Pastor is to serve on the Pastoral council and is to consult the Pastoral council on matters of major pastoral concern. The staff, in consultation and collaboration wit the Pastor, implements the parish’s pastoral plan, taking responsibilities in their particular areas of concern.

Relationship with Finance Council
The Finance Council and the Pastoral Council cooperate in their mutual concern for the life and mission of the parish. This Finance Council looks to the Pastoral council for a mission statement of the parish, a pastoral plan, and parish priorities. The Pastoral council looks to the Finance Council for sound financial guidance regarding the resources needed to develop and implement parish plans, programs and policies.

Guideline Revisions
The Pastoral Council Guidelines may be revised, in all or part, by a process of consensus and discernment. Written notification of proposed changes will be sent to all members two weeks prior to the meeting at which changes are to be discussed.


Guideline Revisions and More

Relationship with Pastor and Staff
The Pastoral Council is a consultative body which makes recommendations to the Pastor. The Pastor is to serve on the Pastoral council and is to consult the Pastoral council on matters of major pastoral concern. The staff, in consultation and collaboration wit the Pastor, implements the parish’s pastoral plan, taking responsibilities in their particular areas of concern.

Relationship with Finance Council
The Finance Council and the Pastoral Council cooperate in their mutual concern for the life and mission of the parish. This Finance Council looks to the Pastoral council for a mission statement of the parish, a pastoral plan, and parish priorities. The Pastoral council looks to the Finance Council for sound financial guidance regarding the resources needed to develop and implement parish plans, programs and policies.

Guideline Revisions
The Pastoral Council Guidelines may be revised, in all or part, by a process of consensus and discernment. Written notification of proposed changes will be sent to all members two weeks prior to the meeting at which changes are to be discussed.

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