From Parish Council to Pastoral Council – During the past year several of the Diocese’s parish councils have transitioned to pastoral councils. What you may ask does that mean? Over the years there has been an evolution both in the role of councils and how they operate. In the past, councils began by addressing the physical and financial needs of the parish, administered and coordinated various parish ministries and used “Robert’s Rules of Order” to guide meetings and decisions. Today, more councils are becoming ‘visioning bodies’, steeped in prayer and making decisions in concert with the pastor, administrator or parish life director in a process of discernment. The role and function of these pastoral councils are: planning, policy development, spiritual formation and community development.
Does this mean that the people who are on the Parish Council are no longer needed? Of course not. Some of the present members may even discern that they are being called to the Pastoral Council. Our present Parish Council has many fine, gifted and dedicated people. They are very much involved in the “hands-on” functioning of the Parish, e.g., Parish Activities, Building and Grounds, Prayer and Worship to name a few committees. They are a great asset to our community. In addition to the “hands-on” aspect , we need a vision for St. Gabriel’s and that is a task that falls to the members of the Pastoral Council. The committees/ministries will still need to meet and work closely with the Pastoral Council. This transitional process is gradual and we need to begin the process. Please consider and pray to find if God is asking you to be part of this new venture and ministry at St. Gabriel’s.
Most parishes in our Local Planning Group (LPG)/Local Catholic Communities (LCC) have transitioned to Pastoral Councils. St. Gabriel’s was asked to catch up to the other parishes not only in our LPG/LCC, but in our Deanery and Diocese as well. We will be starting the transition from Parish Council to Pastoral Council this year.
The members of our Parish Council have attended informational meetings concerning the background and the process of establishing a Pastoral Council. The Pastoral Council will work closely with the Finance Committee and other Parish committees and ministries. Pastoral Council Members will be chosen through a process of discernment. Members discern, i.e., feel “called” to be on the Pastoral Council. Members of the Pastoral Council will develop a “vision” for the parish.