The parish is a unit of God’s family that fulfills within its local area the universal mission of the Church: to make Christ more fully present in and through the parishioners, in all that they say and do. The essence of the parish community is a union of people who care about one another, who think of themselves as the Body of Christ, as the people of God.
Every Christian, regardless of circumstances, is called to share responsibility in the ministry of the Church. The concept of shared responsibility affirms that the people are actively involved in the decision-making for pastoral ministry. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Church perceived God’s guidance and direction as flowing almost entirely through the leaders – the hierarchy: pope, bishop, pastor – finally to be activated in parishes through programs and projects.
The pre-Vatican II thinking was changed by the concept of shared responsibility. Thus, a totally new ministry of the people of God was born. This is the ministry of the parish pastoral council, where the people of God (priest, religious, and laity) together reflect on the parish’s ministerial activity and, on the basis of that reflection, discern what needs to be changed or developed in the parish to make it more faithful to what God is calling it to be. This relationship of priests and people is the foundation of all ministries that serve within the parish council.
Parish pastoral councils represent all areas of parish life: old and young, poor and rich, clergy, religious, laity, people with divergent points of view, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Members of a council, as well as all parishioners, are called forth to merge their expertise, insights, and diverse experiences out of love and concern for those to whom they minister. Hence, membership on the parish pastoral council ideally would reflect this rich diversity.
The parish pastoral council is composed of nine lay members each serving a three year term. Interested parishioners can volunteer or be nominated to serve on the parish council. Final selection is made by lot at a Discernment ceremony.