A Letter from our Pastor
Have you considered discernment to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council?
The primary advisory group for a pastor is the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC). As Canon Law #536 notes, “through it the Christian faithful along with those who share in the pastoral care of the parish in virtue of their office give their help in fostering pastoral activity. This pastoral council possesses a consultative vote only …” In every parish, I have looked to the PPC for advice; for a vision of what can be done, and for assistance in deciding among the many good things that could be done which ones should get priority in staff time and financial resources.
In recent years at St. Joseph the PPC has gone through several changes in well-intentioned efforts to keep staff and councils working toward a common goal. Some of these systems were unwieldy because of their size, chewed up too much staff time, or have not had consistent membership. This summer I called together a group of people from the parish to get their input on how the PPC might be organized to give us a manageable, effective, committed, consistent and visionary group to help me in my governing role in the parish. I want it to be a thoughtful group that provides input and suggestions and advises on what should be done and what should be dropped. I don’t want to have simply a reporting meeting. The PPC would not be charged with carrying out all the plans, but help with research and recommend reasonable ways of how those plans and ideas could be accomplished. There should be good communication with the six councils in the parish – Finance, Worship, School, Parish Life, Faith for Life, and Outreach.
The group that met this summer made its suggestions, and I tweaked them a bit. While a few details are still to be ironed out, this is what we are planning to do:
- Create a six-person parish council with an additional person, the chair, who will be appointed by the pastor.
- They would work within some overarching goals.
- People would serve 3-year terms, with two people rolling off each year. To set this in place, we will start with people committed to 1+ years, 2+ years, and 3+ years, ending in June 2021, 2022, and 2023 respectively.
- Members would DISCERN onto the council – there would not be elections. This method is becoming much more common in parishes. Those interested would meet to pray and talk, and eventually, the right number of people remain.
- We had information meetings for those interested after the 5:15 pm Mass on September 7, and between the Masses on Sunday, September 8 at about 9:30 am.
- Those interested would also have a chance to learn more about what the PPC does at an Archdiocesan training session in New Prague at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church on Thursday, September 12 at 7:00 pm.
- The discernment for membership will be on Monday, September 23 after daily Mass at about 7:00 pm.
- The first full meeting would be on Monday, October 28. Meetings would be at 7:15 pm on Mondays, typically the fourth Monday of the month.
Within all this, new by-laws will have to be written and approved by the parish and by the Archdiocese.
Each member would have some duties, such as a liaison to one of the councils. They wouldn’t necessarily attend their meetings, but at least be in touch with the staff member for that group. Members will need to be faithful (not necessarily perfect) in attendance. At times some research and reading will be done between meetings.
Some people have asked what is the connection between the Finance Council and the PPC? The Finance Council reviews the financial reports in detail and helps with the administration of parish goods. We also have a Hard Hat Group that works with the finance council in seeing to the good administration of buildings and grounds. We rely on the Finance Council to help us have enough money or at least tell us how much money we can safely spend. The PPC will help me particularly in prioritizing the programming issues, not building repairs. For example, our parish might want to have a more robust youth program, expand services to the elderly, make childcare available for events, additional worship opportunities, more speakers, donate money to certain causes, etc. The various costs would be determined.
The Finance Council could tell us how much we might
prudently spend, aware of not only the immediate cost but future costs as well. The PPC would help me determine which of these things, if any, would be considered most important for the pastoral care of the parish. In short, the staff and Finance Council set up the budget as it is shaped by the visionary role of the PPC.
Thank you for considering discernment to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council.