Introduction to Parish Pastoral Councils
with Mark F. Fischer

8. Consultation in the Parish

Pastors may consult their finance councils and their parish staff members in addition to the pastoral council.  How should they distinguish among the various consultative groups?

This unit argues that pastors should distinguish among the groups in three ways:

  • by the type of knowledge they seek (e.g., prudence or technical expertise),

  • by the qualifications of councillors, and

  • by the consultative approach taken (e.g., by discussion or by the application of rules or laws).

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A. Quiz on Parish Consultation

Answer the questions true or false.

  1. Aristotle distinguished between science and practical wisdom.

  2. The method of the pastoral council is to demonstrate its expertise.

  3. Finance councils and the parish staff offer expert advice.

  4. When the pastor seeks practical wisdom, he should consult pastoral council generalists.

  5. Pastors seek expert advice in a changing situation, for one should follow established rules.

  6. Because finance councils advise about administration, pastoral councils must avoid that subject.

B. Searching for Practical Wisdom

Aristotle said that deliberation is the method of groups who seek practical wisdom.  The pastoral council deliberates and seeks the truth in dialogue.  By contrast, finance councils and parish staff members apply general rules in an expert manner.  Pastors consult finance councils for their expertise in accounting.  They consult pastoral councils for a prudent reflection on what the parish ought to do.

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

Chapter 18: The Main Purpose 

This chapter will help you to distinguish between those occasions when a pastor should consult the finance council (i.e., when he needs accounting expertise) and when he should consult the pastoral council (when he wants to deliberate about a prudent course of action).

D. Reflection

Pastors may consult pastoral councils about virtually any practical topic.  Some authors offer a comprehensive list (evangelization, worship, the Word, etc.).  Others say that pastors ought to consult about the most important parish topic, or a sharply limited number of topics.  What does your pastor consult about?  How could he and the council benefit from a limited and focused consultation?   

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