EN ES
Search
Close this search box.
EN ES
Search
Close this search box.

Leadership

2.2 Pastoral Council Formation

Leadership Reversed

“Priests, deacons, staff and other lay leaders will participate in ongoing spiritual formation and training for leadership.”

“Every Family of Parishes will have a unified pastoral council, with other relevant consultative groups for specific areas of parish life.” Parameter 11, Beacons of Light

The pastoral council constitutes the primary consultative voice of the members of the parishes and the Family of Parishes. Your pastor and council members must be well-formed and informed so that the council may effectively carry out its role, particularly in the Pastoral Planning Process envisioned in Beacons of Light (the process of unifying multiple parishes into one canonical parish) and the discernment of appropriate stewardship of resources for your Family of Parishes. A strong council will ensure that your pastor and Family Leadership Team receive necessary input and feedback from parishioners at every step of the process of unifying the parishes within the Family. Deanery convocations will be held in the fall of 2023 to form council members for their important role.

To-do: Look for registration information about the deanery convocations for pastoral councils members. 

1.3 Leadership – Vision Impact for Principle

A vision statement is a short aspirational statement of direction for your Family of Parishes — the where we are going, and why we do what we do to get there.   

Once a vision statement has been drafted, it is important to validate that the vision statement provides aspirational direction and inspiration to all components of a vital parish. The Beacons of Light principles and vision points concisely define parish vitality. Thus, comparing your draft vision statement with the principles provides a sounding board to confirm the appropriateness of the proposed vision statement. The Principle Vision Impact Form is used during the Family Visioning Process and allows teams of Family staff and lay leadership to confirm your draft vision statement and understand what changes will need to come about as your Family begins to live out the vision.  

You can find the Family Visioning Process and Principle Vision Impact form in the Leadership 1.2 Materials.

1.2 Family Visioning

The Family Visioning Process follows Visio Day and is a comprehensive process to create a vision statement for your Family of Parishes. This process is designed to define your vision, build consensus around the vision with key leaders and assess the impacts of that vision for each Beacons principle within your Family. 

The Center for Parish Vitality can assist you in conducting this process onsite at your Family of Parishes, as defined in the Family Visioning Process Overview document. This approach and time required largely depends on the availability of your lay leadership participants in the Family Visioning Process. See the materials tab for the Family Visioning Process Overview and related slide decks.  

To-do: Email [email protected] to schedule your Family Visioning Process with the Center for Parish Vitality.

3.1 – Discern the Family Leadership Team

A Family of Parishes is best served when the pastor and key collaborators (clergy and lay staff) work together as a team. The Leadership principle states:

Leadership Reversed

“Pastors, in collaboration with parochial vicars, deacons and lay ministers, according to their proper roles and charisms, share responsibility for pastoral leadership.”

While there are many groups of people who participate in leadership and governance of a parish or Family of Parishes (e.g. pastoral council, full staff, finance council, commissions, etc.), the leadership team has the greatest potential to effectively assist the pastor in implementing the mission of the parish.

Forming a unified Family Leadership Team (FLT) is one milestone of Phase 1 in the Leadership principle:

“Form a unified Family Pastoral Council, Family Leadership Team and staff, each rooted in prayer and supported by healthy teamwork.”

It will take time for your pastor to discern the members of your Family Leadership Team. In the short run (at the beginning of Phase 1 of the Pastoral Planning Pathway), it will be difficult for your Family to have a unified FLT for a variety of reasons:

  • Staff doesn’t know one another yet.
  • A new pastor is still settling in.
  • Representing all parishes may be difficult.
  • Key collaborators haven’t yet been identified or hired.
  • Parishes are still operating mostly independently of one another (which is normal and healthy in the beginning).


To-do: Use the Family Leadership Team overview to consider short-term leadership models and how your FLT might form during Phase 1.

2.3 The Family Council Ensures Representation

The Family Pastoral Council will ensure that parishioners have a voice in how their Family of Parishes serves them and leads them to missionary discipleship. In its most effective form, the pastoral council is the place where the pastor can share his concerns, discuss difficult pastoral issues, test new ideas and initiatives for the Family and get practical advice from a group of parishioners who live in and represent the larger and wider faith community. Through your Family Pastoral Council, your pastor and a group of parish leaders —united in a common purpose and a common set of values — engage in dialogue and search for wisdom to identify that which is best for your Family of Parishes.

Since neither your pastor nor the individual members of your Family Pastoral Council are all-knowing regarding the expectations, hopes and desires of your parishioners, your Family Pastoral Council provides a forum for all ideas to be heard. It is through active listening and the exchange of ideas that diverse views of the wider faith community become refined to reflect the desired future of your Family of Parishes.

Leadership Reversed

“As they become one Family, the culture and history of the parishes are acknowledged, honored, and, where possible, preserved as we move from maintenance to unification in the mission of Christ. Efforts are made to blend cultural differences with compassion and compromise.” (Church vision point)

Pastors also find that this structured mechanism for interchange and dialogue is helpful in promoting their own personal growth and in their development as the servant leader of their Family of Parishes. Representing the many views of your parishioners, your Family Pastoral Council can support your pastor, as well as challenge him to consider various perspectives on any given issue.

To-do: Ensure representation in leadership and Family pastoral life.

2.2 Establish a Council That Prayerfully Discerns

Providing spiritual direction and guidance for a Family of Parishes is a significant task. A Family Pastoral Council best assists the pastor when it gives attention to the quality of its own prayer and spiritual development.

The Family Pastoral Council best achieves its work through well-led meetings that are both efficient and orderly. Yet, the deliberations of the pastoral council are done in the context of a faith community and for the purpose of advising the pastor on pastoral matters. As such, your Family Pastoral Council is challenged to conduct itself in a spirit of prayerful discernment, dialogue and consensus-building. To that end, members are charged with discerning what the Holy Spirit might be calling your Family of Parishes to do at a given time. They will become more effective when they develop into an efficient work group. In such a group, the quality of relationships, a common sense of purpose, effective meeting procedures and the skills of dialogue and prayerful reflection are valued.

Leadership Reversed

“In pastoral planning and parish life, every Family of Parishes will adhere to the spirit and norms of the Vatican Instruction: “The pastoral conversion of the parish community in the service of the evangelizing mission of the Church.” (2020)

To-do: Establish Family Pastoral Council meetings that include prayer, learning, reflection and discernment.