Membership Of The PPC
The Parish Pastoral Council is a council of the whole church at parish level - priests, religious, church workers and laity working together to give leadership to the parish. The parish pastoral council is established with the parish priest at its heart, and it can be misleading to speak of the council as though it were separate to him (e.g. ‘the priest and the council’).

Some of those employed by the parish in its pastoral life are members of the council – e.g. a pastoral associate, a school principal.

Lay members make up the bulk of the council, and they are selected through a various processes of discernment that may vary widely from nomination and election to simple and direct appointment by the Parish Priest. It is a fact that the practices engaged by various Dioceses and individual Parishes in the call and convening of Parish Pastoral Council members are quite diverse. Two basic principles apply to selection:

Firstly, the basic principle is that the Council is “A representative Group”, bringing together the hopes and dreams of the whole Parish Community, but it is not a “Group of Representatives”, each of whom brings only the hopes and dreams of the particular section of the community that they represent. Secondly, there are several balances to be achieved – gender balances, age balances, and particularly a balance between credibility and competency. Somewhere along the scale between the credibility of democratic election by all the people, and the competency achieved by appointment of duly gifted people is the desired balance for Council membership. It will vary greatly with place and circumstance.
Within those two broad general guidelines, the method for selection will usually depend greatly on the traditions of the Parish, its present needs, and a number of other pragmatic issues that may change from time to time.

A practice that is becoming prevalent is the practice of discernment. For an example of how a discernment process might be mounted in the interests of convening a Parish Council see the Article “Choosing a Parish Council by Discernment”, written by a Parish Priest in the American Journal Church. Fall 2004, pages 34-36.

While the council is not made up of representatives from particular parish groups, experience has shown the wisdom of the council having a firm link to the Parish Finance & Property Committee, Parish Management Team and the Parish School. Likewise the council needs firm links to significant ethnic communities within the life of the parish. For example, the Pastoral Council is quite distinct from the Parish Finance Committee which is a canonically required committee to assist the Parish Priest with the financial administration of the Parish. Charged with the financial well-being of the Parish, it will usually act as the financial resources adviser to the Pastoral Council, whose care is the pastoral well-being of the Parish. It will usually work with the Pastoral Council in determining the availability of budgeted resources for pastoral action and programs initiated by the Parish Pastoral Council. Many Parishes find it very useful to arrange for a member of each body to attend each other’s meetings to gain an appreciation of how they might work together most effectively for the building up of the Parish Community. Secondly, many Parishes have a practice of including the School Principals in the “ex officio” membership group on the Council.

However these linkages are effected, the Parish Pastoral Council, early in its formation, needs to identify the nature and purpose of its connectedness with each group in the Parish, and form a working relationship with each accordingly.