Thursday, May 24, 2007

Resources on Pastoral Councils

I know many who read my blog are active parishioners, and some are pastors, surely with more experience than I have. So this is, what do folks call it? A "bleg" (a blog-beg, I think that means).

I have two parish pastoral councils, and I think it would be well to provide them with some "how to be a pastoral council" materials. Of course, I want to read and learn from such materials, first.

Any recommendations?

Sadly, some of the goofiness that has crept into parish life -- in liturgy, or catechetics, also finds its way into this sort of thing. This is why I'm seeking input, because I really don't want to waste my time with anything that reflects a problematic agenda or faulty understanding of the governance of the Church.

Feel free to suggest books, pamphlets or websites, and I'll check them out.

If you have actual experience to cite with any materials put into use, that's always helpful.


Paul Stokell said...

I did a Parish Pastoral Council retreat a few years back, mostly based on "Who Moved My Cheese?" and a few other tidbits. You (collectively speaking) are welcome to use it; it's a Powerpoint Presentation.

Tim Lang said...


Consider starting with the Code of Canon Law. Somewhere in the early 500's there will be the brief but juridical information that you need.

You are a sharp guy so ignore the commentary, say a prayer and just read the related canon/s. Check out the topic of Pastoral Councils on or any orthodox website and you'll be able to access any info you need.

I advise you to focus on the actual code and to ignore the commentary because chances are that your C.I.C. is published by the heterodox Paulist Press. Check the spine and if it is the Paulist Press, look at the back side of the dust jacket and you can read the glowing reviews and endorsements by radical pro-abort Margaret Farley, dissenter from Humanae Vitae and Judge from California's 9TH circus,I mean circuit court of appeals, John Noonan and the biggest hypocrite of the Church, Roger Cardinal Mahony.

Why would Farley, Noonan, and Mahony endorse the commentary? Because so much of it was written by progressive, homosexual rapists; Father John Renkin and Fr. John Huels.

It might not be a bad idea to pitch the Paulist press version and get an authentic Code from an orthodox publisher like Ignatius or use an online version from the Holy See.

Good luck,

Marce said...

I work in Baltimore and have been impressed by the materials put out by the Diocese of Oakland. They list them on their website but I couldn't download them. The director is very friendly and has e-mailed me the documents in the past. His name is Chuck Siebenand and his e-mail is The web page is

Anonymous said...

Father -
I have served on our parish council for a number of years. As a former protestant, I was used to such groups being decision-making bodies who hired and fired,authorized expenditures, etc. At some point I learned that in the RC church, it is an advisory body only with the pastor of the church making final decisions. I can't help with printed information however.

We always have a printed agenda and financial reports. Father opens with prayer and reviews the financial reports. Although the chairman technically moves us through the meeting, the pastor is right beside him.

Sometimes potentially the most able people to serve on parish council are also some of the busiest people in the parish -- e.g. the accountant/banker who chairs the finance committee, etc. IMHO, it is easier to get such people to serve if they know that there is an agenda, time is important, and the meeting will not be allowed to drag on forever. In addition to church documents related to parish councils, I'd advise you to give the parish council chairman a handout on how to run an efficient meeting.

As far as liturgical changes (am reading The Sacrament of Charity myself right now and understand it was a very popular title at the local Catholic bookstore ... hmmm...), I have the distinct impression that those come from the Bishop perhaps with a time limit for implementation. Just my impression though...

Good luck!

Jean said...

mEveryone pray, pray, pray. I just rotated off a three-year parish council term. I learned that God assembled this group of people for reasons beyond my understanding. For example, one of our members contracted and died from brain cancer during this term. I would not otherwise have known her to pray for her and her family. My mother-in-law's final years came during my council term. Others on the council prayed and supported my husband and me during this very difficult time. In addition to these sufferings, we had a change of pastor mid-stream. The communication style we were used to with the first pastor turned out to be exactly the style of communication the second pastor found pushy, threatening and hit his "buttons" emotionally we were not aware of. That is water over the bridge now, but I write it to let you know many of us offered up those sufferings for the good of the Church, we prayed for the second pastor fervently and for those who were hurt by his reaction to our previously understood communication style.
Yes, stay away from the heterodox 'parish council training materials' - they are worse than nothing.
Finally, our Deacon gave a retreat for all of us a six months or so after the pastor change. More prayer this time with great healing.
Pray, pray, pray.

Fr Keyes said...

I canot find your email address or I would send you the formative texts for my Pastoral Council.

Fr. Keyes