St. Joseph Catholic Community Parish Pastoral Council Bylaws
Vatican II invites the laity to recognize and respond to their baptismal call to ministry. In response to the baptismal call and in the spirit of servant leadership, the pastor, pastoral staff, parish corporators/trustees, and parish pastoral council carry forward the mission and ministry of Christ and his Church in the parish community. This document explains how the pastor and laity serve the faithful of St. Joseph Catholic Community through the ministry of the parish pastoral council.
The parish pastoral council is an advisory and consultative body, which makes recommendations to the pastor regarding the life and mission of the parish. The parish pastoral council also provides an open and honest forum of communication and dialogue regarding parish life.
The parish pastoral council is composed of: the pastor, nine at-large members, one young adult representative, possibly one youth representative (see 2.3), and the chairperson of each commission. Pastoral staff and parish corporators are not official members of the parish pastoral council, but are welcome to attend and participate in council meetings.
- Pastor – The pastor calls the council into service, presides over the work of the council, and consults with the council on matters of pastoral care which involve the life of the
- At-large members – There are nine at-large members, who each serve a three-year Terms should be staggered such that three terms expire each year. A member whose first term has expired is eligible to serve a second consecutive term; however he or she must participate in the parish selection process again. Anyone completing two consecutive terms of service is ineligible for reselection for a period of two years.
- Criteria for membership – The parish pastoral council seeks to recognize the voice of the Lord as expressed through the pastoral needs and common voice of the parish community, and to provide counsel to the pastor in his stewardship of the parish. Members of the council are expected to have the spiritual, intellectual and interpersonal assets and sensitivities to contribute constructively to this critical mission, including having a long-term perspective and a mission
Gifts for council ministry include: availability of time and energy; responsible, accountable, and committed; ability and openness to consider alternative points of view; ability to listen, reflect, and express themselves with care; willing to engage in ongoing formation and spiritual development; committed to prayer, study, listening, and dialogue; a desire for personal and communal spiritual growth; a willingness to listen to and work with others; an excitement about the parish and the Church.
Any active, registered, baptized and confirmed member of the parish who is in good standing with the Church, and will be at least 18 years old and confirmed by September 1 is eligible to become an at-large member of the parish pastoral council. For members to be eligible, they must be willing and available to serve for the appointed term, contributing members of the parish in time, talent and treasure, willing to engage in ongoing training and personal development, and Catholics whose public posture is consistent with Church teachings.
Every effort should be made for reasonable representation on the council of the diversity included in our parish.
- Selection of at-large members – The selection process for new at-large members occurs in the spring each year. A discernment of gifts process is used to select new members. Publicity should be used to make parishioners aware of the existing council and their role in it. All parishioners are encouraged to submit names of parishioners that they believe would be good council members (or self-nominate) at a Sunday liturgy. Nominees are invited to attend an information session which explains the council in detail, including roles and duties of the members, and allows time for nominees to ask questions. A week after the information session, the current parish pastoral council and returning nominees gather to discern new council members in the context of prayer. Flexibility in the discernment process allows for the possibility that, at the discretion of the
pastor, the number of newly discerned members may be slightly more or fewer than the actual number of vacancies; this means that in any given year, there may not be a total of exactly nine at-large members.
- Resignation – Any member of the council unable to fulfill the responsibilities of membership may resign by submitting a letter of resignation with the
- Dismissal – A series of unexcused absences, disrespectful or disruptive behavior, and/or misconduct are some of the reasons that could prompt a conversation about continued membership on the council. The pastor determines the feasibility of continued
- Vacancies – If a vacancy occurs among the at-large membership during the council year, then at the discretion of the pastor, the vacancy may either be filled by his appointment, or remain open until the next parish-wide council selection process. Potential replacements might be found from those who were involved in the discernment process but who were not initially
- Additional Members – The pastor may also appoint additional at-large members, as needed, in order to achieve diversity or to fill necessary
- Youth Representative – If the pastor and Youth Minister assess that there is a vibrant high school Youth Ministry, then there is one youth representative, who serves a one-year term. Any youth of the parish who is already active in Youth Ministry, is in good standing with the Church, and will be at least 16 years old and confirmed by September 1 is eligible for this position. The Pastoral Associate for Youth Ministry may be consulted as to whether candidates meet these criteria for council membership. The youth representative is expected to fulfill the same responsibilities as at-large members, and also to be the liaison with Youth Ministry. The youth representative is selected using the same kind of discernment of gifts process (see 2.2.2) that is used to select at-large
- Young Adult Representative – There is one young adult representative, who serves a one-year term. Any young adult (post high school, age 18-35) of the parish who is in good standing with the Church is eligible for this position. The young adult representative is expected to fulfill the same responsibilities as at-large members. The young adult representative is selected using the same kind of discernment of gifts process (see 2.2.2) that is used to select at-large members.
- Commission Chairpersons – Commission chairpersons should attend all council meetings. If a commission chairperson is not able to attend, he or she should appoint a substitute for occasional or a long-term (yearly) representation to attend in their place and participate on behalf of the
3. Parish Pastoral Council Executive Team
The parish pastoral council executive team consists of the pastor and three selected at-large members – chairperson, vice-chairperson, and secretary – who work with the pastor to enable the council to operate more effectively and efficiently. The executive team develops an overall working plan for the year, and prepares the agenda for all the regular council meetings. They bring to the agenda what they believe is important from the community’s point of view, and communicate it to the council in advance of the meeting. The pastor, staff, council members, and/or parishioners may propose agenda items for consideration by the team, who may either place an item on the agenda or refer it to the appropriate staff person for action/response if it is not properly a council matter.
- Chairperson – The chairperson runs the council meetings effectively, and facilitates council discussions, making sure that everyone speaks and is heard, inviting them to share their wisdom and participate fully in the discussions of the council, providing encouragement and support for council members, being sensitive to conflict and helping to resolve conflicts positively. The chairperson is also responsible for the ongoing organization of the council, and ensuring that significant time for prayer and formation is included at meetings to maintain the pastoral focus of the council. The chairperson works closely with the pastor to ensure that the council works to fulfill the mission of the parish through active collaboration with staff, parishioners, and ministry
- Vice-Chairperson – The vice-chairperson assists the chairperson and facilitates meetings in the chairperson’s absence. The vice-chairperson keeps a record of action items and decisions made at the executive team meetings, and is responsible for ensuring that there is an annual review of the bylaws. The vice-chairperson is also responsible for ensuring that all council members have access to appropriate
- Secretary – The secretary provides and maintains an accurate written record (minutes) of action taken during council meetings and the work of the council (not a record of the dialogue of meetings), distributing copies of the minutes, along with the agenda and supporting documents, to council members, staff and corporators prior to the next
regularly scheduled meeting, and ensuring that summaries of the meetings are made available for all parishioners. He or she prepares parish bulletin announcements and other information pertaining to the work of the council. He or she also maintains a roster of membership and attendance, monitors terms of council members, and continually updates council documents and archives.
- Selection – The at-large members of the council selects three executive team members (chairperson, vice- chairperson, and secretary) from among the at-large members. This selection may occur as early as at the June meeting, and needs to be completed before the September meeting. Leadership terms are one year. While a healthy turnover of team members is desired, it is preferable that not all of the executive team members are inexperienced in their positions. Council members are informed about the responsibilities of the executive team, and invited to discern whether they have the gifts and skills for these positions. Selection then occurs by a discernment of gifts process in consultation with the In the unlikely event that a decision is not achieved, the pastor may appoint the executive team.
- Vacancies – If the chairperson is unable to complete his or her term, the vice-chairperson should automatically succeed and fill out the unexpired portion of the term. If there is a vacancy in any other leadership position, the at-large members of the council should select someone from among the at-large members to fill the unexpired portion of the term by the above
- Additional Members – The pastor may create additional executive team positions and/or appoint additional executive team members as needed in order to achieve diversity or to fill necessary
4. Council Meetings
- Regular Meetings – The council year officially begins and ends with the June meeting, with newly selected at-large members, young adult representative, youth representative (if applicable), and executive team members assuming their responsibilities immediately following the June meeting. The parish pastoral council meets monthly, from September through June. Members should receive an agenda, reports, and study materials in advance of each meeting to permit thoughtful study and consideration. Meetings may include discussion on major items with recommendations made by consensus whenever possible, and comments on reports by various ministries, including questions and feedback from previous meetings. Time should be made available at each meeting for parishioners who may wish to address the council. Each meeting should include quality time for orientation and formation, prayer, scripture reading, shared faith experiences, and community building, as well as council business. Parishioners are welcome and invited to attend regular meetings as
- Other Meetings – The parish pastoral council may choose to hold special meetings at other times, for various purposes such as orientation of new members, formation, retreats, and work Depending on the meeting’s purpose, these meetings may also include members of the staff and/or invited parishioners.
5. Individual Responsibilities
In order to adequately provide sound advice and counsel, council members need to prepare with prayer, formation, and an understanding of the life of this parish community.
- Spirituality – Prayer and reflection are a priority, requiring an adequate amount of time dedicated to ongoing formation. Each council member should take time to develop spiritually so as to be more keenly aware of the Spirit’s presence and functioning within the council and within the whole parish community. Responsibility for leading prayer should be shared by different council members throughout the council year, with a strong emphasis on faith-sharing.
- Formation – Council members need training and development to clarify for themselves the identity and purpose of the council and acquire skills that benefit their working together as a group. Each member of the council should seek to be formed in the nature of their role in the parish pastoral council, and request such resources from the executive team. It is preferable that there be a gathering for orientation of new council
- Consultation – Each council member should make a special effort to understand and to implement the consultative process. In this process, each member shares his or her wisdom regarding the issue being considered. Although a common conclusion among the members is not required when functioning as a consultative body, the process of seeking consensus is very helpful in providing quality
- Attendance and Participation – Council members should give council meetings high priority and plan them into their schedules as Attendance at meetings is not a matter of personal convenience but of responsibility to the parish, and is required of all participating members. Council members are expected to contact the chairperson if they
cannot attend a meeting. Preparation for meetings includes reading in advance all materials distributed for each meeting. Council members should come prepared to actively participate and contribute to the council’s work, acting as a representative voice of the community in all discussions. They should be rooted in the parish family, actively seeking communication with parishioners and ministries for effective input.
6. Council Responsibilities
- Consultation – The members of the council are called to reflect on and consider pastoral issues for the common good and for the future, making recommendations to the pastor consistent with the mission and goals of the parish pastoral The intent of these discussions is to garner the considered insights of all council members on behalf of the whole community.
- Methodology – In matters of serious consequence to the parish, the council should make every effort to arrive at a recommendation through consensus. Every member of the council should be involved in the consensus building process and is urged to speak to the assembled council his or her consent or reservations regarding the matter under discussion. The discussion should continue, addressing any reservations, until every member is either in favor of the recommendation or is willing to support the recommendation even though it may not be the preference of the individual. However, if after an extended discussion on a particular question, the council is not able to reach consensus, a two-thirds majority vote of the entire council will decide the issue. Majority voting should be used only as a last resort, and the pastor does not
- Planning – One of the chief council functions is pastoral planning, a significant and ongoing part of parish life. Pastoral planning is essential to the development of the parish: it encourages the fullest collaboration of clergy, staff, and laity, and enables the parish to become more fully a portion of the People of God, sharing in the mission of Christ in their specific place. Finally, pastoral planning increases clarity about the mission and priorities of the parish, affects the ways in which resources are used, and encourages the participation and support of parishioners. The major planning activity of the council is to create a master parish plan with the establishment of parish goals for approximately three to five years through:
- Listening – creating a dialogue around the mission of the parish, and engaging the entire faith community in the planning process through one-on-one conversations, group/neighborhood meetings, and parish assemblies;
- Visioning – prayerful assessment of parish strengths and limitations, development of the parish mission statement, identification of the most important parish priorities and the subsequent development of parish goals, and feedback with the faith community;
- Planning – development of specific objectives supportive to the goals, and creating strategies to achieve those objectives contained in annual operating plans that are coordinated with annual parish budgeting activities and communicated to the faith community; and,
- Implementation – enacting plan objectives by empowering clergy, staff and lay leadership with responsibility to insure the objectives are met, and informing the faith community of progress through periodic assessments and reports to the parish at
- Budget – The budget process requires collaboration between the parish pastoral council and the finance commission to ensure that it is driven by the parish pastoral plan. Prior to the beginning of the fiscal year, the council reviews the proposed annual budget provided by the finance The council should be provided with information essential to understanding budget items through discussions with the finance commission chairperson and parish business manager. The council can accept or reject the budget proposed to it by the finance commission, stating its rationale. If the council approves the proposed budget, then together with the finance commission, the council recommends the budget to the pastor. The council then monitors the determined priorities and any significant adjustments to the budget throughout the year.
- Annual Report – The council annually provides to all parishioners a full report on the spiritual, material and financial condition of the
- Bylaws Review/Revision – This document should be reviewed annually, and recommendations for change presented to the council for review and discussion. It may be amended with the consent of the pastor by a two-thirds majority vote of the entire council. Any proposed revisions will be effective upon
A commission is an advisory group established by the pastor and PPC to cooperate with the overall mission of the parish by focusing on a particular ministry area. It is where the experience and concern of parishioners with regard to this area are focused and given direction. It consists of baptized parishioners who are committed to this ministry, monitoring issues and trends, visioning and developing and recommending priorities and strategies. Its overall direction is shaped by, but not limited to, the Pastoral Plan.
- Establishment of Commissions – Because parishes are dynamic communities existing within a culture in flux, flexibility is essential in the ministry of the parish pastoral council. The role of commissions in the parish continues to evolve, influenced by such things as the ministries that are in place, the responsibilities of pastoral staff members, the uniqueness of the parish, and the needs of the larger community. New commissions may be formed as necessary by the pastor and PPC to investigate the needs of their particular mission area, develop long-range goals, and implement short- range objectives. If the pastor and PPC determine that an existing commission has completed its intended function and/or the need which it previously filled has lowered in priority, they may decide to retire
The following standing commissions are part of the overall council structure and should report the progress of their goals and activities semi-annually to the council: Christian Formation, Evangelization, Facilities, Finance, Liturgy, and Service, Justice & Life.
- Finance Commission – All parishes are required to have a finance commission, which is regulated by the norms of the Code of Canon Law as well as by those issued by the Archbishop. The finance commission should regularly report on the state of parish finances to the council, including any major factors or trends that could have budgetary impact. It should also assist in the preparation of the annual report to the parish community. The chairperson of the finance commission needs to have a high degree of involvement with the parish pastoral
- Commission Membership and Chairpersons – The pastor holds the authority to invite and appoint parishioners to serve on Commissions and Committees. He alone retains the authority to appoint members to the following:
Christian Formation Commission
Parish Plan Implementation Committee/Team.
For all other Commissions and Committees, the Pastor has delegated authority to the Chairperson, following consultations with the appropriate Pastoral Associate. Chairpersons should be discerned by members of each commission. Chairpersons serve a two year term; regular commission members do not have terms. Any parishioner may volunteer his or her service to any Commission or Committee at any time. Volunteer service on Commissions or Committees to which the Pastor retains the authority to appoint members must be approved by the Pastor.
- Relationship of Commissions and PPC – The council respects the proper roles and responsibilities of its commissions, recognizing the importance of commission members to interact with the pastoral staff when recommendations fall within the scope of the commission’s work, when the impact on the parish is of a limited nature or when the recommendation suggested is already authorized in the parish goals and New recommendations that affect the whole parish either directly or indirectly should be brought first to the executive team for initial review, who will then, as appropriate, bring the recommendations to the council for review and discussion.
- Relationship of Commissions and Staff – Commissions and staff should have a joint commitment to meet and collaborate, recognizing their different roles; neither should dominate. Staff are not required to attend every commission meeting.
8. Relationship between Council and Staff
All baptized persons are gifted and called to the mission of Jesus Christ. Every member of the parish, by their baptism, shares in the threefold role of Christ: priesthood, prophecy, and leadership. Therefore all are responsible for the ministry of the Church and the ongoing ministry of Christ. We believe that we – pastor, corporators, staff, and council – are called together to form one body that facilitates the ministry of all. The responsibility for the total mission of the parish is accepted in the spirit of collegiality by the pastor, staff, parish pastoral council, and parishioners.
- Staff – The pastor relies on the pastoral staff for their expertise, and consults them about the management of parish operations. He may also ask staff members to attend council meetings. The parish pastoral council needs to be in collaboration with the pastoral staff. The parish pastoral council is not designed to become involved in operational matters of the parish; such matters are left to the pastor and his
Accepted June 4, 2014 Revised 7.2 November, 2017