Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people… ( Acts 2:43-47)
Acts presents an inspiring picture of the character and mission of the church in times no more certain than today. One of the most striking aspects of this portrayal of church is that they were “together and had all things in common.” This is a stunning description of who we are at our best – energized, intentional and united in identity, purpose and direction.
The Second Vatican Council invited us to recognize our dignity as a People of God who have been abundantly loved and who have received a great commission (Mt. 28: 16-20) to bring the Good News of Jesus into every human situation as ambassadors of Christ's mercy (2 Cor. 5:20). It is in this Spirit of unity that we approach our ministry together. Within each U.S. diocese, the Bishop seeks consultation with representatives and experts in leading the local Church and he authorizes pastors to do likewise within each parish.
The mission of the Church is not reserved to one person or a few. It is through baptism that all have a share in Christ's mission – priest, prophet and king. Consultation enables the active participation of all the baptized in this mission.
It is through consultative structures in the church polity that we ensure participation, unity and vitality (Canon 208). Consultation is an important way for the Church to practice subsidiarity - enabling creative leadership and achieving renewal from within. A wise pastor consults with the trustees, members of the staff and lay leaders of the parish. One essential partner in parish collaboration is the parish pastoral council. (For authorizing texts see link below under "Additional Resources")