December 11, 2012

Pastoral Council Operational Guidelines



Saint Joseph Parish is a community of believers who uphold the teachings of the gospel and the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church, foster the formation and enrichment of parishioners in spirituality, worship, and education, providing a welcoming environment to all; we live Christian lives by praying together, caring for our diverse community, encouraging and sharing of ourselves in service to others.


St. Joseph Catholic Church is a Catholic Faith Community serving God through the teachings of Jesus Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Members of the Pastoral Council should be:

  • baptized and confirmed Catholics in good standing with the church,
  • persons who support and enable Parish life
  • committed to prayer, gospel values and growth in personal holiness,
  • knowledgeable of the mission of Jesus, the church and the parish, its ministries and people,
  • skilled in group process, communication and collaboration.

Members of the Pastoral Council will be twelve (12) in number:

  • The pastor
  • The parish business manager
  • Ten at-large members discerned and selected by the pastor or by the full Parish Council.

All twelve (12) members will have equal voting privileges for the election of the ten (10) at-large members of the Pastoral Council.

The Pastor has final approval on all matters. The Council members represent the parish community at-large.


  • Call to Order
  • Opening Prayer
  • Approval of Minutes
  • Pastor’s Comments
  • Report of Officers, Board and Standing Committees
  • Report of Special (Select or Ad Hoc) Committees
  • Unfinished Business
  • New Business
  • Announcements (Good and Welfare)
  • Closing Prayer
  • Adjournment


The parish council members of St. Joseph Church will outreach to parishioners through the parish ministry focal points, and through other parish communication avenues to develop a list of qualified recommended candidates. they believe will be good representatives to aid the pastor in promoting the mission and direction of the Parish. Notice of the upcoming process will be published in the Parish Bulletin.

Individual candidates must profess an individual desire to serve the parish community on behalf of the pastor.

The pastor will screen the candidate list to reflect his vision for the makeup of the council-either privately or at council meetings with participation of council members only—as appropriate.

The formal discernment meeting to hand over council membership duties will include new members and returning members and will focus on foundation for next term pastoral council agenda as laid out by the pastor.

The selection process may begin three to four months before the end of any member’s term so that continuity is maintained. The liturgical calendar, linked with school year, will be considered when scheduling discernment activities.

Duration of service:

Elected, at-large members serve two-year terms and may not be re-elected between terms without a break in service.

The two-year terms of the elected, at-large members will be staggered, one half to be re-elected each year, to maintain continuity of the Pastoral Council.

Council members, who are unable to complete a term of office, attend meetings regularly or participate in the Pastoral Council process, will send a letter of resignation to the pastor and the Pastoral Council.

Pastoral Council members that have three (3) unexcused absences from the regularly scheduled meetings will be asked to review their commitment or to withdraw from the council. Resignations or vacancies will be filled by the pastor’s appointment to complete the term.

The term of office for elected, at-large members shall be from February through January of the following year.

Regular Pastoral Council Meetings

The Council will meet monthly on a date determined by consensus of the members.

Every meeting will open and close with a prayer.

A quorum of six (6) voting members must be in attendance in order to conduct business. (See section III. D for the guideline for voting members.)

Those members unable to attend will contact the Pastoral Council Secretary 24 hours or more in advance of the meeting.

Special Meetings

The pastor may call special meetings at his discretion.

The Chairperson may call a meeting of the Executive Committee (see V. A.) giving 24-hour notice to the members and the reason for its being called.

Annual ‘sense of the parish’ outreach

The Pastoral Council will conduct at least one of the following parish fact-finding activities annually to solicit a sense of the parish for ideas, concerns, general communication, parish ministry promotion, and other relevant pastoral business:

  • Survey
  • Town Hall meeting
  • Parish ministry focal point meeting

The date, time and place will be published at least two weeks in advance in the church Bulletin.

Attendance at Regular Meetings

Only those elected, at-large members of the Pastoral Council will have voting privileges.

Parishioners are encouraged to attend, with the understanding they should not expect to participate in the meeting, unless a request has been provided to the Chairperson one week in advance on the subject on which they wish to speak. Three minutes will be allowed to the speaker. Unless an emergency occurs, no exceptions will be made.

Guests may be invited to Pastoral Council meetings by the pastor or by the Executive Committee by prior arrangement and added to the formal meeting agenda. Time budgets should be negotiated and enforced by the secretary to preserve meeting format .The primary purpose of inviting guests will be to provide education and information to the Pastoral Council.


The Chairperson selected by the voting members of the Pastoral Council, with the concurrence of the pastor, will:

  • Be responsible for preparing an agenda in association with the Executive Committee and seeing it is distributed at least twenty-four (24) hours before the meeting to all Pastoral Council members
  • Call the meeting to order, check for quorum and preside.
  • Recognize members entitled to the floor
  • Expedite business

The rights of the Chairperson are to vote when the vote is by ballot; to vote to make or break a tie vote, and may vacate the chair if desiring to debate the question before the assembly.

The Co-chairperson will be selected in the same manner as the Chairperson and will:

  • Preside in the absence of the Chairperson.
  • Assume the office of Chairperson in the event of an emergency or resignation.

The Secretary will be selected in the same manner as the Chairperson and will:

  • Keep a record of all the proceedings of the meeting, usually called the minutes, and send a copy of them to the Pastoral Council members within two weeks following the meeting.
  • Preserve all records, reports, and official documents of the organization, except those specifically assigned to the custody of others, and be prepared to present them when requested or required.
  • Read all papers, documents, or communications as directed by the Chairperson, keeping copies of the correspondence prepared;
  • Assist the Chairperson in preparing the agenda notifying the members of the next meeting.


Committees are groups formed to collaborate with the Pastoral Council to implement programs or policies, or in studying and evaluating a particular topic.

An Executive Committee is made up of the Pastor, Chairperson, Co-chairperson, and Secretary.

A Standing Committee has a continuing existence. This committee serves for a term corresponding to that of the Pastoral Council officers.

A Special (Ad Hoc) Committee is one created for a specific task. This committee goes out of existence when its purpose is achieved and a final report made and is submitted to the Secretary for archiving.


The pastor makes the final decision on all matters.

When making decisions, the Pastoral Council should always endeavor to reach a consensus. Standard approaches that lead to a consensus include study, discussion, prayer, modification of a proposal and compromise.

When it becomes apparent that a consensus will not be reached on a given proposal, a vote should be taken to decide it. Each elected, at-large member of the Pastoral Council may cast one vote.

Whenever the Pastoral Council resorts to a vote, two-thirds of the votes cast is required for a decision to be reached.


Guidelines are to be reviewed and recertified by the Pastoral Council annually or as deemed appropriate by the council or the pastor for the purpose of improvement, clarity, and to enhance better understanding or use.

The pastor, or his appointee, may review them whenever desired and suggest changes to be implemented.

A two-thirds vote of the Pastoral Council voting members in attendance is required to change these guidelines.


The complete content of any Internet website sponsored by St. Joseph Parish will be reviewed regularly and approved by the Pastoral Council As appropriate. A standing Parish Website Subcommittee, will be delegated by the Pastoral Council to provide day-to-day oversight of content changes to parish-sponsored websites.

The Parish Website Subcommittee will consist of one (1) active, Pastoral Council member delegated by the Pastoral Council, the current Pastoral Council Secretary, and the parish website coordinator.

No changes to parish-sponsored website content will be authorized without the approval of the Parish Website Subcommittee.

The Parish Website Subcommittee will report, for formal approval of the full Pastoral Council, all changes made to parish-sponsored websites at each regular meeting of the Pastoral Council.