Why a Parish Pastoral Council?
The Vatican II document Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) asks parish pastors to be "willing to make use of the laity's prudent advice. Let them confidently assign duties to the laity in the service of the Church, allowing them freedom and room for action. Further, let pastors encourage the laity so that they may undertake tasks on their own initiative." (LG#37)
In the Diocese of Wichita, this participation of the laity in the life of the parish is what we call living the Stewardship Way of Life. Gratefully recognizing and receiving God’s gifts, and sharing these gifts in love of God and neighbor.
Parishioners are a gift to the pastor. Through a parish pastoral council, he gratefully “recognizes and receives” the gifts of their leadership, spirituality, energy, and ideas. Through the parish pastoral council, parishioners can share these gifts in love of God and neighbor.
What's the difference? Parish Council versus Pastoral Council?
After Vatican II, parishes formed lay leader councils called “parish councils.” These councils were often involved with the day to day operations of the parish. After the development of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, the purpose of these councils was changed from addressing day to day operations, to the broader mission of ensuring the pastoral care of the parish by fostering pastoral action. (Canon 536) For our purposes, we will call this council the “Parish Pastoral Council.”
So, what is the Parish Pastoral Council?
The Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body within the parish that is convened by the pastor and from whom the pastor seeks advice and counsel in planning for the parish.
Key concepts in this definition are:
It is advisory to the pastor and is charged with:
1. Prayerfully discerning parish needs;
2. Setting pastoral priorities;
3. Empowering people to participate in the mission of Christ through his Church.
Video on Parish Pastoral Councils