Role and Function of the Parish Pastoral Council: Canon Law provides for the formation of Parish Pastoral Councils in Canon 536 #1, i.e. “In every parish of the diocese, a Pastoral Council shall be established, if the diocesan Bishop, after consulting with the Council of Presbyters, so decides. The pastor presides over the Pastoral Council. The Pastoral Council is composed of members of the congregation together with those of the parish staff who have pastoral care by reason of their office. The Pastoral Council assists in promoting pastoral action in the parish.” (Brook and Labrador, 2015).
The Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body, pastoral in nature, because it strives to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit among God’s people in the parish. A Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) gives its help to the pastor in fostering pastoral activity; it investigates, under the authority of the pastor, all those things which pertain to pastoral works to ponder them, and to propose practical conclusions about them. Specifically, the Parish Pastoral Council’s purpose is to enhance the process of: pastoral planning; developing pastoral programs; improving pastoral services; and, evaluating the pastoral effectiveness of various programs and services. Although the Council is not a body which makes binding decisions, the recommendations of the Pastoral Council are to be taken seriously when grounded in prayer, discernment and communal wisdom. Our pastor, Fr Keith Gordon-Davis presides over the Parish Pastoral Council. The pastor is responsible for the final approval of Council recommendations concerning pastoral planning, programs, and services for the parish, as well as for their implementation.
The process used for identifying new council members includes opportunity for parishioners to participate. The composition of the Council should be a balance between members: nominated and elected by the parish at large; appointed by the pastor; Councilors are chosen so as to truly reflect the wisdom of the parish community. When parishioners understand the Council ministry and have an opportunity to discern which parishioners are suited for it, they can contribute enormously to the selection of councilors. Members are required to attend meetings of the PPC held at 3-monthly intervals.
PPC Meetings & Agendas: The Parish Pastoral Council Constitution sets out the needs to explain how items may be proposed and placed on the agenda. The pastor is the primary selector of the Council’s agenda, inasmuch as he is the presider. However, any member of the Council may raise items for the agenda. Ordinarily, the Council meets 3-monthly or at least 4 times a year for one to two hours. Minutes are recorded by the PPC Secretary and form part of the parish permanent record.
Terms of Service: PPC members serve a three-year term, renewable once. The Council does not deal with acts of administration which are distinct from pastoral policies and planning. Acts of administration concern the daily operations of the parish, which includes the implementation of the pastoral plan and policies, parish programming, budgeting and personnel matters. The pastor has the responsibility for these matters and for the staff. Some elements of administration belong to other groups, such as the Parish Finance Committee.
Brook and Labrador, 2015 Parish Pastoral Council Guidelines, The Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador, http://rcchurch.com/index.php/policies/parish-pastoral-council-guidelines (Accessed 16 July 2015.