Introduction to Parish Pastoral Councils
with Mark F. Fischer

5. The Selection of Councillors

The threefold task of the pastoral council has consequences for the selection of councillors.  If their task is investigation, reflection, and recommendation, then councillors should be selected for their ability to do these things.

  • View the video.  Take the quiz.

  • Consider the various ways that councillors may be chosen.

  • Reflect: how does your parish choose councillors?

If the best councillors are those who know what councils do in general, and who are committed to the specific task of the council in your parish, then what is the best way to identify and recruit such people?


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A. Quiz on Council Selection

Answer the questions true or false.

  1. Most councillors in the USA are chosen by popular election.

  2. The merit of this method is that it guarantees participation.

  3. Popular election also guarantees spiritual discernment.

  4. Representatives of ministerial groups do not make up the "council of ministries."

  5. Councillors should know what councils do and should be selected with care.

  6. The "hybrid" model of selection mixes popular participation with careful discernment.

  7. In every council, the terms of members should be staggered.


B. Official Teaching

The 1973 Circular Letter to the world's bishops on pastoral councils stated that councillors are to make up an "effective" number, to "represent" the community, and to be "prudent" (no. 9).  Appointed by the pastor, they can be selected in a variety of ways.  How is it done in your parish?  Which way is best?

C. Reading from Pastoral Councils in Today's Catholic Parish:

Chapter 16: Discerning Councillors

Which is preferable in selecting councillors -- participation by the whole parish or discernment by a select few?  And is it more important for councillors to be trusted by the pastor or to be selected by the community?  This chapter dissolves these contradictions, showing that it is possible to have both wide participation and authentic discernment.

D. Reflection

Participation by the entire parish in the selection of councillors helps ensure that they represent the community.  But the community may not know how councils are supposed to operate.  How should the selection process meet these two needs?  Draft a proposal addressed to your pastor.

© 2008.  For more information about parish pastoral councils, email Mark Fischer.