Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the greatest models of collaboration within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia continues to be the Parish Pastoral Council. Since the initial formation of councils in 1992, Pastors and Parish Pastoral Councils have labored to create and implement a vision of ongoing renewal within each parish. Through the service of Parish Pastoral Councils, mission statements and pastoral plans have been formulated and continue to be revised and implemented within each parish. It is my hope that these efforts have been fruitful experience for pastors, pastoral staff members, parish pastoral councils, and all parishioners.

As we journey together in this new millennium, the work of consultative bodies such as the Parish Pastoral Council, assists in fostering mutual relationships between the clergy and the laity. Working together, clergy and lay leaders seek new and creative methods to live fully the Christian mission in the context of contemporary life. In doing so, Parish Pastoral Councils “enable the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mold communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in society and culture” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 29).

All of us can look toward the future with the hope that Parish Pastoral Councils will continue to work collaboratively with pastors and parish staff members to bring greater vitality and vibrancy to parish life. To bring this hope to fruition, I encourage all pastors to remain committed to the development of Parish Pastoral Councils, consulting with them to address the varied aspects of parish life. I also encourage the laity to continue to step forward to lend their gifts and talents to the ongoing development of Parish Pastoral Councils and the building up of their parish communities as communities of prayer and worship, communities of faith and service.

I encourage Parish Pastoral Councils to continue the process of faith-filled discernment by remaining attentive to needs of their parish communities as well as the Church’s mandate: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).

Principles of Pastoral Councils

In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia every parish is to have one Parish Pastoral Council which is to foster full participation of the entire parish – clergy, religious, laity – in the pastoral life and mission of the parish and of the Universal Church. The following principles guide the formation of Parish Pastoral Councils:

  1. Every Parish Pastoral Council is to develop a statement of purpose which reflects the identity and mission of the parish in light of the Gospel, Church teachings and the specific realities of the parish.
  2. The Parish Pastoral Council is solely a consultative body with the role of advising and assisting the Pastor in areas of pastoral concerns.
  3. The Parish Pastoral Council develops and recommends parish pastoral plans and directions through a consensus process and prayerful reflection.
  4. Every Parish Pastoral Council in its membership should be representative of the entire parish, recognizing and reflecting the parish’s rich diversity.
  5. The Parish Pastoral Council is to cooperate with parish committees which address such areas of parish life as worship, spirituality, community, evangelization, education, and service.
  6. It is the responsibility of the Pastor to convoke the Parish Pastoral Council, to preside over it, and to determine the issues to be treated by it or to receive proposals from its members.
  7. In the event that the Pastor of a parish dies, resigns or is transferred, the Parish Pastoral Council ceases to exist. It is the prerogative of a newly appointed Pastor to either confirm the present membership of the former Parish Pastoral Council or choose to have new members elected, with the exception of the three members who serve on this council ex officio and the three members the Pastor is to appoint.
  8. When a Parochial Administrator is appointed to a parish because of the incapacity or ill-health of the Pastor, or for some other cause, this Administrator will assume the rights and responsibilities of the Pastor in relation to the Parish Pastoral Council.(paragraph 8 revised 2/18/05)

Purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council

The purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council is to foster full participation of the entire parish in the life and mission of the parish and of the Universal Church. The parish faith community participates in this mission by:

  • Worshiping God;
  • Creating and nurturing Christian Community;
  • Growing in Faith and Holiness;
  • Serving those in need, especially the poor.

Function of the Parish Pastoral Council

The general function of the Parish Pastoral Council is to advise the Pastor in those pastoral matters presented to it by the Pastor. It carries out its function by:

  1. Informing the Pastor of the needs and concerns, gifts and resources of the whole parish and its members;
  2. Developing and reviewing a Parish Mission Statement (which will always contain the name of Jesus) and periodically re-evaluating and revising it;
  3. Developing a parish pastoral plan;
  4. Participating in ongoing pastoral planning;
  5. Recommending policies, procedures and programs which would assist in the implementation of the Mission Statement and the parish pastoral plan;
  6. Reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of existing programs;
  7. Reflecting on Archdiocesan pastoral priorities and recommending how they can be implemented in the parish.