The Foundation Document

Saint Joachim Catholic Church

Parish Pastoral Council
Foundational Document
May 2024


Recognizing that the People of God have practical wisdom that can assist the pastor in making decisions, Reverend Robert P. Capone, Saint Joachim’s Parochial Administrator, hereby establishes a Parish Pastoral Council as of May 2024.

Active engagement by each member of the parish family in the mission and life of the community through collaborative responsibility, consultation and lay participation under the guidance and leadership of the pastor is essential.  The Bishop of Orange recognizes this in setting the expectation that every parish have a pastoral council.  The pastor is the shepherd of the church and exercises pastoral care for the community.  The Parish Pastoral Council cooperates in fulfilling the vision; We are a church where people encounter Jesus Christ and grow as missionary disciples in spirituality, evangelization, unity, and leadership.

Pastors themselves were not meant by Christ to shoulder alone the entire saving mission of the Church toward the world.  On the contrary, they understand that it is their noble duty to shepherd the faithful and recognize their service and charismatic gifts that all according to their proper roles may cooperate in this common undertaking with one heart. (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Section 30)

The pastor as leader of the parish community consults with laity who in turn express their views and concerns to him.  An important structure initiated to foster this collaboration is the Parish Pastoral Council.  Members will provide counsel that is: 1) rooted in their skill and experience, 2) respectful of the multi-ethnic nature of the community and dedicated to uniting the diverse populations within the parish community, and 3) cognizant of the broader needs and concerns of the community rather than solely focused on the needs of one or the other constituencies that make up our parish family.

Canon 208 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law speaks of the faithful’s responsibility to work together in building up the Body of Christ.

In virtue of their rebirth in Christ there exists among all the Christian Faithful a true equality with regard to dignity and activity whereby all cooperate in the building up of the Body of Christ in accord each one’s own condition and function.  (Code of Canon Law, 208).

The Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body in the parish which advises the pastor who presides over the Council.  The Council does not manage parish operations.  The Council is composed of laity who are representative of the membership of the parish.  The pastoral council is a representative body, not a body of representatives.  They are guided in their work as a consultative body by four core values:

  1. Collaboration:  The act of working together through reflective listening and genuine articulation of ideas in a partnership of mutual respect, openness, and trust.
  • Spirituality:  An invitation to deepen relationship with God and broaden our interaction with others.  This often involves prayer, study and activities that nurture our spirit and call us to growth.
  • Unity: “We” is our pronoun, not them or those but “us.”  We are open to a colorful future enriched by diversity and cultural exchange.  We have a willingness to engage in a process of encounter that builds a parish that can accept differences.  This calls for the ability to recognize other people’s right to be themselves and to be different.
  • Accountability: We will work with all members of the parish to promote an atmosphere of openness, trust, and justice that empowers our parishioners to be engaged in the parochial efforts of our parish community. 


The primary purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council is to provide the pastor with counsel based on the wisdom of its members.  The council researches and considers matters relating to pastoral activity and formulates practical conclusions concerning them.  The council’s purpose is, first, to study those matters brought to its attention and shed light on them.  Its second purpose is to review and evaluate all the pertinent information thoroughly and to discern the true nature of the information.  Its final purpose is to present thoughtful conclusions to the pastor.  The council presents these conclusions to the pastor in the form of recommendations.

The three-fold tasks of the council – researching, considering, and recommending conclusions – is called pastoral planning.  If the pastor accepts the recommendations of the council, he directs their implementation.  Council members may assist the pastor, if asked, but the implementation is the responsibility of the pastor together with the pastoral staff, not the council.


The scope of the council is pastoral matters.  These may include everything that pertains to the pastor’s ministries of proclaiming God’s words, celebrating the sacraments, caring for the spiritual and material needs of the faithful, promoting the mission of the Church to the world, and being a good steward of parish resources.  The scope includes all the practical matters of parish life.  There is, in short, nothing about which the pastor may not consult the council, apart from faith, orthodoxy, moral principles or laws of the universal Church.

The Councils’ annual period shall be from June 1 to May 31 of the following year.  Setting the annual period informs when member terms begin and end.


Pastoral Council Members have been registered at Saint Joachim for two or more years and have received the Sacraments of Christian Initiation: baptism, confirmation and eucharist.  Members will be noted in the community for their faith, good moral integrity, and prudence.  Members will also be able to perform the three-fold task of a pastoral councilor: researching, considering, and recommending.

Members will also embody the culture of encounter: open to meeting and working with others who may have different perspectives with a willingness to listen, speak honestly and work toward consensus.  Members will be passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges in the community.  Nuanced thinking and speaking are valued following the dictum of Saint Augustine: In what is essential, unity; in non-essential, liberty; and in all things, charity.


The Parish Pastoral Council will be composed of a minimum of seven and a maximum of eleven members at any one time.  The pastor is not a member of the council.  Initially, eight members were chosen through a selection process involving parishioners for a term of two or three years.  Three of the eleven raised by the community in 2024 will begin a three-year term July 1, 2026 and be joined by two more parishioners appointed by the pastor, bringing the total number of Pastoral Council members up to ten, unless a member does not complete their term.  The year 2027 will see five of the original eight members terming out of service.  Therefore, in 2027, there will be another parish wide recommendation and selection process overseen by a committee of the Parish Pastoral Council.

Subsequent years will see members chosen in alternating fashion between pastoral appointments and the parish wide selection process.   For years when a parish-wide selection process takes place, those recommended by members of the parish through at least a two-month window via a recommendation form, and then chosen by a committee of the Parish Council as nominees will be made known to the parish at large through bulletin boards and the parish website.  Parishioners will select from the nominees on Selection Sunday.  Tables with receptacles for completed selection forms will be available after all the liturgies.  Selection Sunday will be widely publicized within the parish through announcements and bulletin articles. 

Each council member serves at the pleasure of the pastor and any council member can be removed by the pastor. 


Members of the Pastoral Council shall serve for three years.  However, initially, and subsequently if needed, some members will only serve two years.  A two-year term for a few members will allow some continuity in the council rather than a whole new slate of members every three years.


The Pastor or his representative, the Parochial Vicar, must be present at the Parish Pastoral Council meeting in order for the council to conduct any business.  The council officers will be the Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson, and the Secretary.  The Pastor and the council officers develop the meeting agenda.

The Chairperson prepares and distributes the agenda prior to each meeting and facilitates council discussion, ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to speak and express their ideas.  The Chairperson monitors open agenda items between regular meetings.  The Vice-Chairperson assists the Chairperson and assumes the duties of the Chairperson in their absence.  The Secretary keeps the minutes and ensures that they are made available to each council member prior to every meeting.  When the Council goes into “Executive Session,” if minutes are taken, they will only be made available to members of the council.  Minutes of the regular council meeting will be made is summary form to parishioners after review and authorization by the Pastor. 


The Parish Pastoral Council has a three-year planning cycle.  The Pastor defines the theme of the planning cycle during the first Parish Pastoral Council business meeting in June.  Each May, the Council shall report to the parishioners on the results of the year’s accomplishments and future plans, soliciting any feedback or opinions.


The Pastor develops the agenda with the Chairperson, incorporating input from the council officers.  It states the goals for each meeting, the method to be used to reach the goal, and the material needed to accomplish the goal.  The agenda guides the meeting.  It begins with a review of the minutes of the previous meeting and concludes with a brief evaluation.


The Pastor relies upon the Parish Staff for their expertise and consults with them on a regular basis about parish operations.  Parish Staff members may be invited to attend council meetings in order to offer their knowledge and expertise to the council members.  In addition, the Pastor relies on the Finance Council to develop, monitor and report on the parish finances.  A Finance Council member may be asked to attend a Parish Pastoral Council meeting when the council needs parish financial information.


The Parish Pastoral Council meets once a month with the exception of July OR August.  Meetings are no more than two hours in length.  Between monthly meetings, council members are expected to follow up on open action items and prepare for the next meeting.  This may entail work on ad hoc committees or other activities assigned.  An evaluation of the three-year planning cycle will be made in 2028, 2031, 2034 …