Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pastoral Council: Meetings


The Constitution of the Parish Pastoral Council should state the minimum number of meetings each year that the Council will meet and their regularity, as well as guiding principles (by-laws). Each meeting should include a time for prayer, ordered agenda items, and time for discussion. Care should be taken to allow for adequate time to meet; however, Councils should remember that meetings which are too long are not necessarily effective.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

Pastoral Council: Officers

The Officers serve the Parish Pastoral Council by coordinating its meetings and facilitating the implementation of decisions that affect the operation of the Council. In general these include the Council President, a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, and a Secretary. The President, Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, and Secretary function as the Executive Committee of the Council.

1. The Pastor or Parish Life Coordinator (PLC):

As the delegate of the Archbishop who exercises ordinary jurisdiction over the spiritual and temporal affairs of the parish, normally functions as the President of the Council. The Pastor/PLC presides over all council meetings; his/her presence is required.

2. The Chairperson:

  1. Organizes and coordinates the activities and process of the Council and assists in preparing the agenda for the Council meetings, together with the Pastor/PLC and other members of the executive committee 
  2. Chairs all meetings of the Council 
  3. Performs such duties as the Pastor/PLC or the Council may direct, consistent with this office 
  4. Holds accountable the members for the implementation of decisions recommended by the Council and approved by the Pastor 

3. The Vice Chair:

  1. Assumes all duties of the Chairperson in his/her absence. 
  2. Becomes the Chairperson in the event of the Chairperson’s death, disability, resignation, or removal 
  3. Is to be fully informed about all Council activities 
  4. Performs such duties as the Chairperson or Council may direct, consistent with the office 

4. The Secretary: 

  1. Keeps an accurate record of the minutes of all Council meetings for the ongoing work of the Council and the official archival record of the work of the Council for the parish 
  2. Provides a copy of the previous meeting’s minutes and next meeting’s agenda to all Council members prior to the next meeting 
  3. Maintains the official roster of all Council members and their terms of office 
  4. Is responsible for advanced notification and reminders of scheduled meetings as well as special meetings 
  5. Reports to the Council all communications and correspondence as directed by the Chairperson or the Council 
  6. Performs such duties as the President or Council may direct, consistent with the office 
Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

Pastoral Parish Council: Membership

Basic Qualifications for Members on a Parish Pastoral Council

Whether appointed or discerned to membership on a council, basic qualifications for service should include: 

  • Catholic in good standing 
  • Over the age of 18, with the exception of a youth representative 
  • Active member of the Parish 
  • Involved with ministry in the parish 
  • Aware of the Pastoral needs of the parish 
  • Recommendation from their Pastor 
  • Preferably not an employee of the parish or a member of the Parish Staff 

In addition it is highly desirable that members possess the following traits:

  • Knowledge of and appreciation for ecclesial structures and authority 
  • Appreciation and respect for the many cultures and traditions of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe 
  • Familiarity with the Parish Mission Statement and Pastoral Plan 
  • Ability to grasp and appreciate the theological and Pastoral priorities in the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan and the connections to the work of the Parish Pastoral Council 
  • Ability to listen 
  • Ability to work collaboratively with diverse groups 
  • Ability to assume responsibility for completing a task 
  • Ability to articulate ideas 

Number of Members on a Parish Pastoral Council

The number of members of the Parish Pastoral Council will vary depending on the parish’s size, character, and needs. Care should be taken to ensure that its membership reflects the whole faith community.

Constitution of the Parish Pastoral Council

The Constitution of the Parish Pastoral Council should clearly state how the membership on the Council is constituted as well as give the term of office of each member. The Constitution should also make provision for vacancies by reason of death, resignation, inability to continue in office, or some other cause.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

Essential Characteristics of Parish Pastoral Councils

The Parish Pastoral Council is both a process and a structure which enables parishioners to accept and share more fully the task of continuing the Church’s work in the parish community, to help in calling forth and affirming the various gifts required, and to meet the Pastoral needs of God’s people.

The Parish Pastoral Council works to promote unity in diversity – keeping the parish together by enabling people to think, pray, work, and play together. At the same time that it unites, it respects the diversity of the community by encouraging each person to bring forth his/her special competence in ministry and service to others.

  • A Parish Pastoral Council is prayerful. 
  • A Parish Pastoral Council is pastoral. 
  • A Parish Pastoral Council is representative. 
  • A Parish Pastoral Council is discerning. 
  • A Parish Pastoral Council is prophetic. 
  • A Parish Pastoral Council is enabling. 
  • A Parish Pastoral Council is collaborative. 

A Parish Pastoral Council is prayerful:

Its members are to be persons of prayer; that is, they see the value of private prayer for their own personal growth in holiness as well as the value of community prayer for growth in Christ’s community of faith and love. The Council thus spends time together in prayer and retreat experiences for the purpose of drawing together in love and trust, to heal divisions, and for the discernment of God’s will for the parish community.

A Parish Pastoral Council is pastoral:

It strives to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit among God’s people in the parish for the purpose of investigating and weighing matters that bear on Pastoral activities affecting the lives of parishioners, and to formulate on behalf of the parish, practical conclusions regarding them.

A Parish Pastoral Council is representative:

It is a representative body rather than a body of representatives: each councilor ministers to the entire parish community. Thus, the Council represents in a holistic sense all areas of parish life: old and young, men and women, laity, clergy, and religious, people with divergent viewpoints and ethnic/cultural backgrounds. Ideally, all work together in an atmosphere and spirit of trust and openness, merging their expertise, insights, and experiences to further the mission of Jesus among all people.

The priests of the parish and sufficient number of lay persons, with their respective gifts and talents, are to be members of the Council. Any members of religious congregations ministering to the parish may also be appropriately represented. Deacons may serve on the council, at the appointment of their Pastor, as ex-officio members only.

A Parish Pastoral Council is discerning:

Its members bring together the needs and the hopes of the parishioners and of the entire community in which they live. Through a prayerful consensus/discernment process, it merges the insights, the diverse experiences, the expertise, and the faith of the councilors in order to provide vision and direction for the parish community. That vision finds expression in the priorities established and the broad policies adopted.

A Parish Pastoral Council is prophetic:

As a result of experiencing the fullness of God’s Word, it brings a broader, more challenging vision to parish life. It strives to move outward to deal with some of the bigger issues within the church and in the world, seeking to be a credible sign of concern for justice, peace, reconciliation, and love. It bears witness to all that the reign of God is already unfolding. It is a group of people who are not afraid to challenge and take risks, who support, affirm, and share their convictions of faith with one another as they strive to build more trusting relationships in the continual process of building up the Body of Christ.

A Parish Pastoral Council is enabling:

It strives to recognize and acknowledge the giftedness in God’s people and to enable each person’s unique giftedness to surface, to be shared and organized for the up-building of the community of faith, and finally to be celebrated.

A Parish Pastoral Council is collaborative:

Its members are to be visionary and concerned with appropriate sharing. The Parish Pastoral Council, as a community of stewards, is responsible for leading the parish in ensuring that the resources of the parish are used not only for the parish community to which they belong, but for the common good of all the members of the Church. They act as ambassadors for the policy of the Pastor and the local parish community.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

The Parish Staff

The Parish Staff usually consists of individuals whose specific duties are defined by a job description, and who are generally responsible for the day-to-day operation of the parish.

In rural communities, the individuals may work as volunteers.

All members of Parish Staffs, whether volunteers or paid professionals, are called to professional development and to be compliant with Archdiocesan policies.

As employees of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, they are answerable to the Pastor or his designate only.

Members of the Parish Staff act as an important resource and are called to support the work of the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

The Parish Pastoral Council’s Relationship to the Parish Finance Council

The Parish Finance Council and the Paris Pastoral Council function interdependently. However, as an important resource to the Parish Pastoral Council, it is essential that both communicate with each other in furthering the parish mission. It is highly recommended that a member of the Parish Finance Council is present at the Parish Pastoral Council meetings as an ex-officio member.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

The Parish Finance Council

The Parish Finance Council is consultative to the Pastor. Finance councils are mandated in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and by Canon Law.

“In each parish there is to be a finance committee to help the parish priest in the administration of the goods of the parish, without prejudice to Canon 532. It is ruled by the universal law and by the norms laid down by the diocesan Bishop, and it is comprised of members of the faithful selected according to these norms.” Canon 537.

Finance councils serve in an advisory capacity in the administration and stewardship of parish finances, budget, parish facilities, and long-range financial development.

Members on this committee are appointed by the Pastor and are usually individuals who have expertise in matters related to accounting, financing, budget, fundraising, and development.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

The Pastor and the Parish Pastoral Council

Councils should be aware that canonically and historically, the Pastor is the individual who bears the ultimate responsibility for the parish. All decisions about the operation and direction of the parish need to carry his agreement and approval.

The Pastor leads the community by example, empowerment of others, appropriate delegation of authority, and participation in the Pastoral planning process.

The Parish Pastoral Council cannot meet as a consultative body without its Pastor.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

What is a Parish Pastoral Council?

The documents of the Vatican II Council called for the creation of parish councils. “In dioceses, as far as possible, councils should be set up to assist the Church’s apostolic work, whether in the field of evangelization and sanctification or in the fields of charity, social relation and the rest…”

Today, Parish Pastoral Councils are to be visioning bodies, consultative to the Pastor. Those called to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council should be individuals who are familiar with the pastoral elements of the Roman Catholic Church and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as defined by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan:

  • Charity and Justice 
  • Education and Catechesis 
  • Sacraments and Worship 
  • Stewardship and Administration 
  • Evangelization 
  • Prayer and Spirituality 
  • Vocation and Priestly
  • Formation 
  • Consultation and Governance 
  • Ecumenism 

Pastoral efforts in each of these areas are essential to the mission of Christ and the Church.

Parish Pastoral Councils are asked to promote the life of the whole parish, focus on long-range planning, and when requested by the Pastor, to research, prayerfully reflect, and offer best conclusions to the Pastor.

Canon Law allows for the establishment of Parish Pastoral Councils at the directive of the Bishop. “After the diocesan bishop has listened to the Presbyteral Council and if he judges it opportune, a Pastoral council is to be established in each parish; the Pastor presides over it, and 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 Pastor al activity.” Canon 536.

The Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan, at the directive of Archbishop Sheehan, mandates the establishment of Parish Pastoral Councils for each parish (Consultation and Governance, Goal 1, Objective 2).

Archdiocese of Santa Fe: Parish Pastoral Council Handbook

Why do Catholic Bibles have seven more books than Protestant Bibles?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Other beliefs: Very Useful Tactic When Dialoging with Mormons, by Matt Fradd

I’ve never met a Mormon I didn’t like. My next door neighbors are (temple) card-carrying, alcohol avoiding, special underwear wearing Mormons. We’re very close and I love them dearly. They’re kind, generous, and committed.

They’re also wrong.

Mormonism, though it contains elements of truth, is a severe perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I don’t intend to rehash those perversions in this post, instead I’d like to help you prepare for a first encounter with a Mormon.

This is a technique I consistently use. It works every time, I think for two reasons.

1. They don’t expect it. It’s different to what they usually hear: What about polygamy! or Why did Mormons deny blacks the priesthood!

2. It helps them understand why you’re not interested in hearing what they have to say, without being a jerk.

Obviously after your first encounter with a Mormon, if you agree to continue the discussion, you’ll owe it to him to study his religion (and your own) in order to share at greater depth why it is you disagree with him and why he should join the Catholic Church.

Thought Experiment

I begin by assuring the missionaries (who I never call elder. They’re not my elders, neither in age (usually) nor in the faith) that I’m not trying to be rude and that I in no way mean to come across as condescending or insulting.

I then ask if I could try out a thought experiment on them. They agree because they’re Mormons and therefore seemingly incapable of being impolite. [For those of you who aren't familiar with Mormonism, the thought experiment is a parody of the Joseph Smith story].

Here’s what I say:

Suppose I said to you that there was a man by the name of John Smith, who in 1920, 100 years after Joseph Smith received his “revelation,” began wondering which of the many christian churches to join. After much prayer he received a revelation from God who told him that all the religious denominations (including Mormonism) were believing in incorrect doctrines and that he was to await further instructions from on high.

I then tell the missionaries that in a later revelation John Smith received, emblazoned on metal slabs, further inspired works from the Heavenly messenger Doroni that would, essentially, add to the Bible. This religion is called Dormonism and John Smith is the prophet which restored the purity of the Gospel.

I then proceed to take three thick books off of the shelf and say, here is the book of Dormon, and two other books (that stand for pearl of great price and doctrine and covenants).

I tell them that the book of Dormon (like the book of Mormon) contains a promise that whoever reads it sincerely, ponders its contents and asks God if it is true will receive that knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost.

The conversation usually follows like this:

You: “Now, as I said, this was just a thought experiment, but suppose I was serious, tell me, would you take this book and read it prayerfully?”

Mormon: “No.”

You: “Why not?”

Mormon: “Well, this is obviously made up and the Mormonism isn’t.

You: Okay, yes it’s made up, but that’s the nature of a thought experiment; pretend I’m serious. Why wouldn’t you take these books home and read them?

Mormon: Because I think it’s false. Because, I know that Mormonism is true and therefore this has to be false.

You: Terrific! And now you understand the exact position I am in. You see, I’m not interested in reading the book of Mormon because I have already accepted the truth of the Catholic faith, therefore I know that Mormonism, since it conflicts with Catholicism, cannot be true. So unless you can give me a really good reason to abandon my faith, I’m not interested in hearing you out. You see, Jesus Christ established a Church. He said of that Church that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (Mt 16:18). He said to the leaders of that Church, “he who hears you hears me” (Lk 10:16). Since I believe that Jesus Christ is sinless I know that he was not lying and I know that the gates of Hell have not prevailed against the Church he founded—the Catholic Church.

Now (I’m talking to you now), I’m not pretending that the Mormon won’t have a rejoinder to this. He’ll likely go into what they call the great apostasy, which, he’ll say, can be demonstrated from Scripture (it can’t).

A Caveat

I want to reiterate my high esteem for those within the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints (their official title). Their efforts to evangelize; their strong family values, and the support they offer one another as a community is commendable. We as Catholics can and should learn a lot from them.

If you have Mormon friends or family, love them. Don’t take cheap shots. Don’t misrepresent their views. Study what it is they believe and then be gentle in sharing the fullness of what they may have caught a glimmer of in their own faith; Jesus Christ.


Sunday 24, 2013: Mass in Thanksgiving for the Beatified Martyrs in Tarragona, Spain.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, year C (readings)

Malachi 3:19-20
Psalm 98 “The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice”
2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
Luke 21:5-19

Malachi 3:19-20a

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Responsorial Psalm 98:5-6, 7-8, 9:
The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice

Sing praise to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the Lord.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice

Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice

Before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth,
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice

2 Thessalonians 3:7-12

Brothers and sisters: You know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others. Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.

Luke 21:5-19

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here– the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"  He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,’ and 'The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. "Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Catholic Campaign For Human Development Sets National Collection For November 23-24, 2013

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) is slated for November 23-24, 2013, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

The collection is taken up in parishes and dioceses nationwide. The theme of this year's collection is: "Defend Human Dignity. Take Poverty Off the Map."

This annual national collection is the primary source of funding for CCHD's anti-poverty grants and education programs. These programs enable low-income people to join together to identify problems, make decisions and improve their communities. For over 40 years, CCHD has funded organizations that address the root causes of poverty, providing lasting solutions for the future.

During the 2012-2013 grant cycle, the campaign gave out 214 grants in community and economic development, totaling more than $9 million. Of these grants, 178 went to community development and 36 went to economic development and job creation projects. Additionally, 10 grants were given in the category of technical assistance.

"In the United States, 46 million people live in poverty," said the Most Rev. Jaime Soto, Bishop of Sacramento, California and chairman of USCCB's Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. "Many families face continuing unemployment and increasing costs of living; our neighbors are struggling to meet the cost of health care, child care, and even food."

"CCHD brings the Gospel message to issues of social justice. We cannot simply help a struggling family today and leave them with no means of support tomorrow," continued Bishop Soto."Instead, the projects funded by CCHD focus on long-term solutions to poverty. This complements the work of direct-assistance programs like Catholic Charities and pro-life activities."

Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from each CCHD collection stay in each diocese to fight poverty and foster liberty and justice at the local level. CCHD uses the national portion of the collection to fund projects across the country through grants. These grants fund community efforts to promote human dignity and fight poverty. Many of the funded projects focus on health care, immigration, community safety, political participation and environmental justice.

More information about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is available at