The pastoral council represents the entire parish. This includes all cultures, ages and groups within a parish. It includes those who attend Mass occasionally, as well as the core supporters of the parish; those who have been parishioners for fifty years, five years and five months. In all matters, the parish pastoral council is charged with considering the good of the parish as a whole as it seeks to fulfill the Mission of Christ. It is important that council members understand their role at the parish level, as well as the need to communicate with similar structures at the vicariate and diocesan levels.
To accomplish this, a pastoral council must be a representative body, not a body of representatives. This means that unlike legislative groups, a member of a parish pastoral council does not represent any particular interest group (that can find itself in competition with others within the parish). This makes voting, complex procedural rules (parliamentary procedure) and other conflict-reducing methods of decision-making irrelevant. The pastoral council is a place to seek consensus (see Appendix H) on the vital questions of the day.
The pastoral council enables its members and the entire parish community to share in the mission and ministry of Christ. Effective pastoral councils are a forum for dialogue and places for building community. In that interest, it can be prudent to invite particular representation from groups (e.g. age, culture, location) that are underrepresented in leadership or that lack access in the parish.
It is important that council members understand their role at the parish level, as well as the need to communicate with similar structures at the vicariate and diocesan levels. There is much expertise available beyond a parish to assist pastoral councils in understanding best practices in operation.
Commission the pastoral council at a regular Sunday Mass.
Provide the pastoral council with opportunities for prayerful reflection (perhaps a day of spiritual renewal together each year).