Parish Pastoral Council Structures
There are a number of ways in which a Parish Pastoral Council might organise itself to perform its work. These are called ‘structures’. There is an old saying that ‘structure follows strategy’, i.e. when the Council decides its direction and its strategic objectives, that’s when it decides also on the best ways to organise itself to achieve them. Some of the common structural options include the following:
- The Executive is the leadership group of the PPC and its engine room; it prepares the meeting agenda, deals with issues as necessary between meetings and fosters the development of the PPC’s leadership role in the parish; it is made up of just a few PPC members and includes the chair and parish priest.
- Parish Groups Liaison may be set up to ensure groups in the Parish are actively supported, empowered and overseen by the PPC – for they are the hands and feet of the parish’s mission - but the PPC is not simply an accumulation of parish group representatives, it has a whole of parish agenda.
- Portfolios for all PPC members invite them to ‘go where their passion is’ by choosing to focus on one of a handful of parish pastoral portfolios (e.g. Pastoral Care, Liturgy, Education, Evangelization, Social Justice, Spirituality, Stewardship). The members who share a portfolio support and connect to the Council the groups already working in the area of their portfolio, and with the guidance of the Council foster new initiatives and new groups.
- Task Groups are a means by which the PPC draws parishioners into parish activities – many parishioners are unable to make the time commitment to join a parish group but are willing to be part of a task group that has a specific task to perform in a particular period of time.
- A Constitution/Charter/Guidelines document is useful to help a council keep true to the vision it is pursuing, but it needs to be a simple document, one that doesn’t weigh the council down and one that trusts future councils to amend it as necessary.
- Structure is best thought of as a resource rather than an end in itself. The minute we find ourselves setting up a structure and then deciding what it is capable of doing, rather than deciding what we need to do and then setting up the best structure to do it with, is the moment we limit the scope and potential for the Holy Spirit to renew the face of our community.
Copyright Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 2007. All rights reserved