Pastoral Council/ Consejo Pastoral

What is a Parish Pastoral Council?

The parish Pastoral Council helps in fostering pastoral activity (Canon 536), distinct from the parish Finance Council, which aids the pastor in the administration of parish goods. (Canon 537)

The Pastor establishes a Pastoral Council because he seeks its practical advice on pastoral matters. He understands that God’s Spirit speaks through his people. He consult his Council because he wants to know what is the wisest and most prudent course of action for the parish. Outside experts cannot judge what is best for a particular parish, because they are not part of it. Councils offer what no expert can offer: a judgment about what is right for a particular parish.  That is the pastor’s primary motive for having a council.

Parishioners who serve on the Council try to advise the pastor wisely and prudently; because every leader needs good counsel.  Yet, their recommendations will be good only to the degree that the Council fulfills its goal.  That goal is to investigate pastoral matters; and to reflect on them thoroughly; so as to draw sound conclusionsCouncil members are convinced that God’s Spirit is present in their community.  They study the pastoral situation so as to help the parish see it more clearly.  Their satisfaction comes from doing an important task, which contributes to the well being of the community of faith.

¿Qué es el Consejo Pastoral?

El Consejo Pastoral de la parroquia fomenta su actividad pastoral (can. 536), a diferencia del Consejo de Finanzas que ayuda al párroco en la administración de los bienes parroquiales (can. 537)

El párroco establece su Consejo Pastoral para pedir consejos prácticos acerca de asuntos pastorales. El entiende que el Espíritu del Señor habla a través de su pueblo. Consulta su Consejo porque desea discernir lo que es más sensato y prudente para la parroquia. El Consejo Pastoral brinda lo que ningún experto de afuera puede proporcionar: un juicio acerca de lo más conveniente para una parroquia en particular. Éste es, en efecto, el motivo principal por la que se establece un Consejo Pastoral.

Los feligreses que sirven en el Consejo tratan de aconsejar al párroco con sabiduría y prudencia; ya que, todo dirigente necesita buen consejo. Pero, sus recomendaciones son efectivas solo cuando el Consejo cumple con su finalidad. Esta consiste en investigar asuntos pastorales; reflexionar a fondo sobre estos; para llegar a conclusiones sólidas. Los miembros del Consejo están convencidos que el Espíritu de Dios está presente en la comunidad; y estudian la situación pastoral para entenderla más claramente. La satisfacción les viene de hacer algo importante que contribuye al bienestar de la comunidad de fe.

The Purpose of a Pastoral Council

The foundations of Pastoral Councils rest in the Church’s official documents and in the teachings from Christian antiquity about communion, participation, gifts, and consultation.  However, what do pastoral councils actually do?   The answer, in a phrase, is pastoral planning.  Councils help pastors plan the parish’s pastoral program.

Pope Paul VI stated that the pastoral council is “to examine and consider all that relates to pastoral work and to offer practical conclusions on these matters, so that the life and activity of the People of God be brought into greater conformity with the Gospel.” (Paul VI, “Ecclesiae Sanctae I,” no. 16)

The three aspects of Pope Paul’s definition express the purpose of the Pastoral Council: to examine, to consider, and to draw conclusions.   Therefore, the role of the Council is, to maintain the integrity of the Parish Mission and the goals and objectives related to it, through ongoing pastoral planning.  Within this model, programs and events continue to take place in the parish through the efforts of many dedicated parishioners, but always in the context of the parish mission and its pastoral plan.

El Propósito del Consejo Pastoral

Los Consejos Pastorales tienen su fundamento en los documentos oficiales y enseñanzas de la Iglesia desde la antigüedad acerca de comunión, participación, dones y consulta. Pero, ¿qué, en concreto, hace el Consejo Pastoral? La respuesta es sencilla: el Consejo asiste al párroco a planificar el programa pastoral de la parroquia.

El Papa Pablo VI afirmó que el consejo pastoral “examina e investiga todo lo relacionado con el trabajo pastoral y ofrece conclusiones prácticas sobre estos asuntos, para que la actividad y la vida del Pueblo de Dios sea más conforme con el Evangelio.” (Pablo VI, “Ecclesiae Sanctae I,” no. 16)

Los tres aspectos de la definición del Papa Pablo VI expresan el propósito del Consejo Pastoral: examinar, considerar y llegar a conclusiones. Por tanto, la labor del Consejo Pastoral es mantener la integridad de la Misión Parroquial y las metas y los fines relacionados con esta por medio de una planificación pastoral continua. En este modelo, los programas y eventos de la parroquia siguen llevándose a cabo con el esfuerzo y la entrega de muchos feligreses, pero siempre con miras a la misión parroquial y su plan pastoral.

Pastoral Council Membership


What is the eligibility criteria for Parish Council membership?


Shall be represented by an inclusive membership:

  1. All interests of the parish, including all ages, socio-economic brackets, ethnic, cultural and linguistic groups, both genders, and the ill or disabled, so as to assure that all interests of the parish are addressed
  2. This is not to say that all of these groups are to necessarily be present on the council, but rather that there be members of the council who can and who will speak on behalf of these groups


Pastoral Council Candidates Shall Be:

  1. People of prayer
  2. Members of the Catholic faith in good standing
  3. Able to listen to opposing positions, accept consensus and be willing to dedicate themselves to the good of the entire parish community


Pastoral Council: Eligibility

  1. Ability to study, investigate, and examine pastoral matters
  2. Ability to reflect widely
  3. Have patience to meditate deeply
  4. Ability to listen to opposing positions
  5. Ability to unite various points of view
  6. Ability to determine w/others what is best for the parish


Pastoral Council: Number & Term

  1. Shall consist of at least 10 and not more than 12 members who are representative of the diversity of the parish
  2. Each member shall serve a term of 3 years, and may serve a second consecutive term if nominated and approved by the Pastor


How are members selected?

  1. Members shall be selected through nominations by the Pastoral Council, and the parish community, approved by the pastor, and through a process of “discernment”
  2. Parishioners may nominate others or his/herself


What Is A Process Of Discernment?

  1. Discernment is a process that provides for prayerful consideration of God’s call and the gifts needed for the unique ministry of leadership through pastoral council service
  2. It is a process of prayerful self-reflection for candidates to discern if they are ready to respond to God’s call by making a full commitment to serve on the council

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An Introduction to Pastoral Councils by Dr. Mark Fisher

Parish councils have been in widespread use in the U.S. since Vatican II. But what is the essential function of a pastoral council? Dr. Mark Fischer explains what is at the heart of this important element of parish life.

A Vision for Pastoral Councils

What does an effective pastoral council look like? What are the hallmarks of a successful council? Dr. Fischer lays out the church’s specific vision for pastoral councils.

The Difference Between a Parish Council and Pastoral Council

Since Vatican II, the church’s understanding of councils has grown and matured. Understanding these important distinctions is vital in order for a council to be successful in its role of service to the pastor.