A pastoral council is provided for in Church Law—we might even say that it is “enshrined” in its legal code (Canon Law) in statute no. 536. This is further supported by its inclusion in the Decrees of the Fourth Synod of the Diocese of Trenton (Statutes 156 and 157). Basically, the law states that if the bishop judges it opportune, a pastoral council is to be established. The law states that the pastor is to preside over it and that through it, the faithful help in fostering pastoral activity. The law specifies that the council has a consultative role. The diocesan synod goes on to say that a pastoral council ceases at the death or transfer of the pastor.
A number of church documents on the life and ministry of bishops and priests address the role of a pastoral council. One of the documents states: “In the present circumstances the lay faithful have the ability to do very much and, therefore, ought to do very much towards the growth of an authentic ecclesial communion in their parishes in order to reawaken missionary zeal towards non-believers and believers themselves who have abandoned the faith or grown lax in the Christian life.
The law specifies the council’s “consultative” role. It is an advisory body on pastoral matters. This means it is not a legislative body, casting ballots on issues expecting “majority rule.” Rather, the council seeks consensus from the group, which the pastor views as a reflection of the parish. That consensus is very important but the law places the burden of decision-making on the pastor. The council is there to ensure that pastoral decisions are not made in a vacuum.
A council should be a pastor’s sounding board for positive and constructive advice. It is not a forum for personal complaints. Everyone has personal preferences. The council must be positive in its outlook and keep the broader good of the parish in mind. Negativity can be, and is usually counter productive.
The focus of the council’s work is pastoral, that is, concerned about five essential elements of our community: Evangelization, Worship, Community, Service, and Stewardship. This is to say, its role does not extend to matters pertaining to budget, facilities, or to the work of the school board. This does not mean however, that these groups are mutually exclusive. There are times they must interact. An initiative proposed by the council, for example, will have its financial aspect; it may impact the school or affect our facilities.
The council’s work must bear fruit in concrete ways. It is not merely a “think tank” for discussion only. Once discussion takes place, a decision must be made or a policy established.
|Ex. Officio:||Msgr. Gervasio||Luders Desiré,
Deacon Representative (1 year)
|Joan DeGregory||Tom Dobinson||Ketia LaFleur|
|David Larkin||Tom Murl||Vincent Peroni|
|Sonny Pittaro||Evan Prendergast|