Saint Francis de Sales Catholic Church


Parish Council




What is the Parish Council?

The Parish Council is the consultative and policy-making body of St. Francis de Sales Parish, which represents the total Parish community in its work of reflection, decision-making, and evaluation of policies and programs that affect the people in their worship of God, in Christian education, in living the Gospel values of peace, justice and love, in personal contacts that allow the parishioners to grow more fully human and Christian and in providing the material needs for these purposes. The Parish Council excludes from its competence, points of doctrine, moral law and laws effecting the daily worship of the universal Church



What is the Parish Council?


What is the Parish Council?

A Parish Council is a group of people who together are representing the entire parish and who plan and guide its growth. They are chosen by the parish to join with the pastor in a special service of long-range planning, the setting of parish priorities, and the implementation of programs through the Six Commissions. The Role of the Parish Council cannot be understood apart from the work to which the entire parish is called; and so this section looks first at the role of the whole parish before it examines more closely the role of the Parish Council.

Called by God

Sometimes Catholics seem to feel that their relationship with the Church is a mechanical, impersonal thing. They feel they belong to the Church in the same way that they belong to the Jaycees, the School Booster Club, or the Library Discussion Group. Their belonging can seem like a choice all their own, like a decision to join any organization or group. But that is not really the case. At the Last Supper, Jesus told his apostles, "You did not choose me; no, I chose you." (John 15:16). The reality of the matter is that God has called each one of us by name to be in his Church. This is the call we received at our baptism. Though the role to which each is called differs, the call to every one of us is no less personal, no less real, than the one Jesus gave to the apostles when he went right up to them and said, "Come, follow me." (Matthew 4:19). We need to keep in mind that we have been individually called and chosen by God. Belonging to the Church does not just mean being registered in a parish, but being personally called by the Father.

Called to Active Service

What is the reason for our call to be Catholics? After all, God's call to share in his own life reaches out to all persons over the whole world. Through various ways men and women of many different religions are able to learn about God and to grow in the holiness that comes from having a relationship with him. As Christians, however, we have been called through our baptism not only to share in the life of God but also to carry on the work of Jesus. We are called not only to holiness but also to a special activity or service. That activity is more than doing good and avoiding evil. Each of us is called to make God's presence felt in the world in which he lives. The spiritual service of Christians must point out something about God's love and concern for justice. In the Scriptures the idea is illustrated by Jesus when someone asks him to reveal the Father and he said in response, "When you see me, you see the Father.: (John 14:9). To serve is not just to follow the laws of morality or to carry out a worthwhile activity, but to have the Spirit that was Christ's in our words and actions. Thus, when with the eyes of faith others see this kind of activity, they will see a person and have a sense of God's presence in that person.

The Parish: Shared Responsibility for Service

Every one of us Catholics, then, is called to a life of both personal holiness and explicit service. We cannot just be holy. We must do Christ's work. The service to which we are called may vary from time to time, within our own lives and from one person to the next. Sometimes we may express it through involvement in organized programs and at other times outside any organized program. Together, however, all members of the parish share the responsibility to carry on the work of Jesus in all its dimensions - proclaiming the gospel, worship, social justice, and building Christian community. The special gifts that God gives us to carry out our individual services are always for the common good of the whole parish ministry. The term "shared responsibility" refers to our common responsibility as a parish to continue the mission or work of Jesus in its fullness. Each Catholic, through his baptism and confirmation, has personally been called by God to share in that responsibility.

The great variety of ways in which Catholics can respond to their baptismal call creates a challenge for the direction of the parish programs. There is a vast number of possible parish programs; and there is a limited amount of resources available, especially in terms of people's time and energy. Which areas of involvement are more important? Which should be addressed at this time and which require preparation now, so that they may come to fruition in several years? How can the programs be carried out so that they involve as many people as possible? How can such a variety of programs be well-directed? The Parish Council is established to respond to these questions. This structure allows coordinated planning and a sense of vision to be brought to the parish programs. It also ensures the basic unity of parish activities, so that the work of the parish is not carried out by isolated individuals but is a shared responsibility of persons working together as part of an organized whole.

Membership of the Council

The Parish Council should be representative of the entire parish: pastoral staff, religious, and laity. Its membership will vary according to the size and needs of the parish and should reflect the overall make-up of the community it serves. The total membership of the Council should be not less than eight nor more than twenty.

General membership on the Council should include:

  • pastor and all priests, permanent deacons, and other persons in full-time positions of leadership, such as the school principal, director of religious education, youth minister, or director of worship.
  • lay people elected by the parish. The majority of the Council should always be composed of lay parishioners.
  • special appointees. Provisions should be made for a small number of persons appointed by the Pastor (no more than three) in order to provide for an unrepresented segment of the parish if there is such a need after an election.


The following are the six major responsibilities of the Parish Council:

Priorities & Planning - To determine the priorities and plan with vision for the future

Implementation - To ensure that the programs and activities of the parish are carried out by the Commissions

Involvement - To involve everyone in the work of the parish

Shared Decision-Making - To enable as many people as possible to contribute to the process of decision-making in the parish

Cooperation with Diocese - To cooperate with diocesan departments and through the Deanery Council with other parishes and to carry out its work according to the priorities of the Diocese and under its guidance.

Contribution to Diocese - To contribute to the formulation of diocesan goals and programs


The Two Major Tasks

These responsibilities take form particularly in two major tasks. The first and primary task of the Council is to plan. This is a task that the Council works upon steadily throughout the year, because the Council is the think-tank of the parish. It is the place where people dream about the future of the parish, where new possibilities are sought and new visions are proclaimed. The cycle of expressing a vision and gathering ideas from the Commissions, then having it developed by a Commission, responding to the Commission's presentation, and refining it sufficiently before adoption - this is a cycle that the Council should be involved in continuously for many different areas. As a think-tank, the Council tries to bring the elements of vision, quality, and planning to the change that the parish will inevitably undergo.

In addition to being a think-tank, the Council is delegated by the Pastor to share some of his administrative responsibilities that involve the implementation of programs. The Council members clarify and determine parish priorities. In May of each year they study the programs proposed by the parish Commissions for the Pastoral Plan.