The Second Vatican Council brought about a refocusing of who we are as a Church and chose the term "people of God" as one of its expressions of the mystery of the Church. Accordingly, a renewed emphasis was placed on the role of each member in the life and mission of the Church. Recognizing that Christ did not mean for pastors to shoulder the entire salvific mission of the Church, the 1982 Code of Canon Law introduced two consultative bodies, the Finance and Pastoral Councils, to be present in parishes so the wisdom of the laity could be utilized. While the pastor is still the "power of governance," these councils are meant to assist him as consultative bodies.
The Pastoral Council does not involve itself with the everyday workings of the parish but rather is concerned with the spiritual and ministerial needs of the parish that affect the parishioners as a whole. It is not a body of representatives but rather is a representative body with no personal agendas tied to the members. The members seek counsel from the Holy Spirit to guide them in determining how to best meet the pastoral needs of the entire parish while discerning His work there. All members willingly work together toward common goals and values to achieve the message of the Gospel without competition among individuals or groups within the parish.
Every adult parishioner should consider attending the discernment process, whether or not one feels called to serve on the council. In discernment, there is no voting process but rather a calling from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the hearts of those present. Six of the council members are discerned through this process and three are appointed by the Pastor. Normally three members rotate off the council each year.
Pastoral Council Members