What is the relationship between the pastoral and finance councils?
The Code of Canon Law mandates the establishment of a finance council in every parish (Canon #537). Additionally, civil law requires the parish to have five Trustees, two lay members of the parish in addition to the Diocesan Bishop, Vicar General and Pastor. Canon Law recommends the establishment of a pastoral council. Lay Trustees typically serve ex-officio on the parish pastoral council. While a Trustee may serve on the finance council, the Parish Trustee is not part of the finance council solely by virtue of being a Trustee. And while the finance council is distinct from a pastoral council, their roles are complementary. The finance council insures prudence in fiscal management through consultation and participation, while the pastoral council ensures participation and effective planning for the parish as a whole.
The diocese has published best practices for business administration that establish policies and procedures for financial governance and reporting. These directives describe the responsibilities of the parish finance council in detail. It is not the province of a finance council to set parish vision. The finance council does not articulate the mission or set pastoral priorities for the parish. Instead, it is charged with providing sound financial advice. It is the responsibility of the pastor to convene and manage the work of the finance council within the norms, policies and procedures established by the diocese.
The finance council assists the pastor in formulating and managing the parish budget. Finance councils oversee fundraising efforts, monitor expenditures or capital campaigns. Depending on the needs of the parish, the pastor may also ask the finance council for assistance with overseeing maintenance of parish facilities. These are just some of the tasks that present opportunities for cooperation between finance councils and pastoral councils.
The pastoral council is convoked by the pastor to articulate parish vision, communicate its mission, set goals and recommend a plan for the parish. This plan is shaped and implemented by pastoral staff and ministry leaders. Once logistics and costs are determined, the plan must be reviewed for funding by the finance council. Pastoral excellence cannot be achieved unless these key teams of parish leadership work together in that common interest.
Recommendation: Insure effective communication and cooperation between these advisory groups within the parish. This can be accomplished through liaisons or reciprocal ex-officio representation. Some parishes structure the parish finance council as a standing committee of the pastoral council while keeping role distinctions clear.