A few weeks ago I started to write about the Pastoral Council, some general ideas about the origin and the nature of this important structure in the Parish Life. This week I want to keep meditating on this issue.
As mentioned last time, the role of the councillors in the Parish Pastoral Council is mainly that they accomplish the threefold purpose of the council, i.e studying, reflecting, and recommending their conclusions. Some have proposed that the pastoral council accomplishes the task of the lay apostolate. But it is more accurate to say that it participates in the pastor’s apostolate. They assist him in the work of pastoral planning. As you can see, the pastoral council then is the place where lay people officially participate in the pastor’s apostolate as planners.
This threefold mission on the Pastoral Council has very important implications about the selection of its members.
The 1973 Circular Letter to the world's bishops on pastoral councils stated that councillors are to make up an "effective" number, to "represent" the community, and to be "prudent" (no. 9). Appointed by the pastor, they can be selected in a variety of ways.
These ways can be a Council by election: where the whole congregation nominates the members they think can fulfil the threefold mission of the council.
As a Council of Ministries: where representatives of the different associations and groups are sent to the Pastoral Council.
A Council by Discernment: where a few members of the congregation together with the Pastor discern who has the qualities to be nominated to the council.
However the classifications, I think that most of the council are a mixture of one or two methods, what is important is that the Parish sees herself reflected and represented.
When talking about criteria of membership we can say, following the different documents of the church that speak about this that: Pastoral council members are chosen, above all, for their ability to accomplish the main task of the council: the work of investigating, considering, and recommending practical conclusions. They are baptized Catholics, in good standing with the Church, who reflect the parish’s various ministries, social or professional groups, and apostolates.( In Australia we may also ad that migrant groups) But mainly the bottom line is that members to the Council are parishioners noted for their faith, good morals, and prudence.
Please keep praying for this intention that is so important for our parish.
Peace in Jesus