Identity and Mission of the Parish Pastoral Council
While the term “parish council” is most commonly used, the actual term is “pastoral council.” More than a quibble over words, this term underscores the role of the council: to be an advisory and visionary group that assists the pastor of the parish in knowing and responding to the overall needs of the people of the parish entrusted to him.
The parish Pastoral Council gives counsel – advice, information, and organizational and practical assistance in carrying out the three-fold mission of the Church, which is rooted in the three-fold mission of Christ, the Anointed One, given to Him by His Father: to be Priest, Prophet, and King. Thus the Church as a whole, and each parish community, is called to pray, to teach, and to serve:
- prayer, worship, and liturgy (the “priestly role” of sanctification)
- catechesis, education and life-long formation in the Faith, and missionary outreach (the “prophetic role” of teaching)
- help and outreach to those in need, both within and beyond the parish boundaries (the “kingly” role of service)
In the Code of Canon Law (the universal law of the Church), parish pastoral councils are encouraged:
Canon 536 – §1. After the diocesan bishop has listened to the presbyteral council and if he judges it opportune, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish; the pastor presides over it, and through it the Christian faithful along with those who share in the pastoral care of the parish in virtue of their office give their help in fostering pastoral activity.
§2. This pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only and it governed by norms determined by the diocesan bishop.
The Council is to assist the pastor in seeing to the overall pastoral welfare of the parish (including physical plant, but even more, the spiritual, liturgical, social, and apostolic ministry aspects of parish life). The Council is evaluative (“how are things going with what we are doing?”) and visionary (“what needs are not being met adequately, and how might we meet them?”) Councils are also representative – that is, they are to represent the people of the parish and the mission of the Church.
St. Anthony Selected Pastoral Council Members