Parish Pastoral Councils
“How needed pastoral councils are! A bishop cannot guide a diocese without pastoral councils. A parish priest cannot guide the parish without the parish council. This is fundamental!” (Pope Francis, Assisi, Oct 2013)
The Limerick Diocese has a long history of encouraging shared responsibility and collaboration.
This has found expression in a variety of pastoral groups in parish and pastoral area teams. Parishes have long been expected to develop parish pastoral councils, and the diocesan pastoral centre has always had staff dedicated to support local clergy and parishioners in this and other parish ministry development.
For more details of our vision and support available to PPCs, please select from the list below:
- Our Vision of Parish Pastoral Councils 2015
- Sharing our vision of parish - Limerick PPC reflections
- Setting up a new Parish Pastoral Council
- Supporting Existing Parish Pastoral Councils
- Praying together as a Parish Pastoral Council
- The place of lay ministry in parish - some quotes to inspire.
"Each of these is about much more than simply doing things. It is about integrating faith and life, about creating a sense of belonging. Pragmatic needs have created some urgency about furthering collaboration, but collaboration does not rest on pragmatic motives. It lies at the very heart of our faith and draws deeply on our understanding of the Trinity and our desire to live in the light of the Gospel" ("How can we know the way", Bishop Donal Murray)
What is a parish and what is it for? Parish is the Catholic Church where you live and experience church. The mission, or purpose, of parish is to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Where people see signs of Good News - parishioners happy and included, parish involved with wider community, special care for the vulnerable, etc - they feel welcome and are inspired to seek out Jesus who inspires us.
What is parish pastoral development? Parish pastoral development occurs where priests and people work together, in an atmosphere of mutual respect, for the development of the Christian community. It is local leadership, informed by and integrated into the wider diocesan community.
What is a Parish Pastoral Council? The parish pastoral council is a leadership group through which priests and people work together as partners in furthering the mission of Christ in their own place. It does this through building up a vibrant Christian community that is rooted in baptism and marked by its faith, worship and service.
Structures such as pastoral councils express the shared responsibility of all the baptised for the mission of Christ. It is a means whereby all parishioners can take part in discussions that relate to the parish, its mission and its future development. To fulfil its role the pastoral council needs to be a representative body in which the diversity of the parish community is reflected. Its job is not to replace all the good work currently happening, but to consider the needs of the whole parish and ensure all parishioners are inspired by and included in parish life.
 “The Church comes to life in local faith communities of dioceses and parishes when members support and care for one another, proclaim and live by the gospel, celebrate the sacred liturgy and work in charity and justice for the good of the whole world”. Parish Pastoral Council Guidelines, pg 10. Irish Bishops Conference, 1999. Veritas. Full text here: www.catholicbishops.ie/wp-content/uploads/images/stories/cco_publications/pastoralrenewal/pastoral_councils_book_final-1.pdf
 ““It does this by the quality of the life of its members, its community life and worship, its involvement in the wider community and society of which it is part and especially its solidarity with the poor and needy “PPC guidelines. pg 12
 PPC guidelines, pg 18
 PPC guidelines, pg 11
Parish Pastoral Councils in Limerick Diocese
The Limerick Diocese is committed to the vision of Parish Pastoral Council laid out by the Irish Bishops Conference
- 2007: "PPCs: A Framework for developing diocesan norms and parish guidelines".
- 2011: Revised guidelines adopted by this Diocese as our norms for Parish Pastoral Councils in Limerick diocese. The new title of the guidelines is 'Living Communion', published by Veritas Publications.
In 2015, Limerick Diocese created local law, a statute, for Parish Pastoral Councils, making them mandatory in every parish in this diocese, and setting out a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of such groups. The trust that comes with love for one another, opening us to the presence of Jesus among us, is the premise of this statute.
Parish Pastoral Council resource: a reflection on our vision.
In 2007, Parish Pastoral Councils in Limerick were offered an opportunity to reflect on the new national guidelines. Each parish received 2 copies of the guidelines, a booklet with details of a reflection process, and an invitation to join Bishop Murray for a Pentecost liturgy for Parish Pastoral Council members. What emerged was a positive, inclusive and inspiring series of images and an inspiring Pentecost liturgy for PPC members.
- The booklet sent to parish pastoral councils inviting them to participare is available HERE
- A powerpoint presentation of the parish images that were created is available HERE
- Bishop Murrays homily from that Pentecost liturgy is available HERE
Any Parish Pastoral Council might use this exercise as a renewal and discussion starter.
All parishes in Limerick diocese now have established a Parish Pastoral Council. Parishes who need support, or are renewing their Parish Pastoral Council, usually spend some time preparing the whole parish for this development. This makes it easier for parishioners to participate and to support the developing Parish Pastoral Council.
Please feel welcome to contact the Pastoral Centre Pastoral centre to discuss how we might work together. (061 400133)
The following may be of support to you as you consider forming a parish pastoral council in your parish:
- Some QUOTES for your newsletter as you prepare
- A sample FLYER advertising the formation of a new PPC
- If you're a parish priest who is thinking of setting up a parish pastoral Council - this NOTE may be of help
All Parish Pastoral Councils start out with great plans and energy. Life draws deeply on that energy, changes our plans and surprises us with joy and with challenges we never expected! For a Parish Pastoral Council to remain effective, it needs to be brave enough to regularly re-check its progress and learn from the experience!
The Pastoral Development team offers support and facilitation for Parish Pastoral Councils on request. Workshops can be tailored to suit the time and needs of each parish.
Some examples of our work to date with parish pastoral councils include:
- An annual review of P.P.C.
Effective work groups have agreed-upon aims and objectives, which form the basis of an annual work-plan. An annual review is a simple way for any work group to check what has been happening, to consider this in the light of all the plans made last year, and to learn and plan ahead based on this.
- A reflection evening
A parish pastoral council may have originally trained together, but as membership changes and tasks increase; it can sometimes be challenging to remember WHY we are working together. Most parish pastoral councils will identify areas that they would like to learn more about and invite a speaker or facilitator to lead them in an evenings learning on the theme. This has two results (i) the theme itself - e.g. what is a parish pastoral council, youth ministry, involving more parishioners, praying together as a group, etc., and (ii) bonding the group and improving dialogue and participation within the group itself.
- Themed training
For example: Planning and chairing pastoral meetings, Making challenging decisions together, Prayer and pastoral leadership, etc. This is often offered to a group of PPCs from a pastoral area, or at the Pastoral Centre.
Working with your parish pastoral council.
We would be happy to chat with you about facilitating, training or input. Please contact us at the Pastoral Centre to talk about your specific parish needs. Once you know what you want, we can support you in achieving that goal.This year, how can we support your parish pastoral council? Perhaps we can work with you:
- to offer input & discussion on a theme chosen by you?
- to facilitate a PPC review?
- to facilitate a planning session - for next years work or for a specific project?
- to lead a reflection/prayer session for members?
- or something completely different that support your work as a PPC?
"How can we follow someone whom we will not speak about together?!?" Limerick P.P.C. member.
At the heart of any pastoral group must be its prayerful relationship with God. Without recognition of Jesus Christ at our centre, how can we discern for the Body of Christ in this local parish? If we are not about Christs work, then why are we gathered in the name of a Parish Pastoral Council?
We strongly encourage that all members of the group take equal turns in leading that prayer so that the gifts and needs of the whole group are reflected. While this may be nervewracking for some initially, it keeps prayer central and it does get easier with practise!
Many Parish Pastoral Councils have purchased one of the many prayer books for PPCs currently on sale, so that a member can take it home between meetings and choose appropriate prayers from it, if they wish. (E.g. 'Prayers for Parish groups', 'Prayer reflections for group meetings' etc – see Columba Press or Veritas publishers)
THESE monthly reflections, prepared for parish liturgy groups, may also be of support.
HERE is a September prayer resource
'Let us be under no illusion that unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve little purpose. They would be mechanisms without a soul, 'masks of communion rather than its meaningful expression and growth' Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte 43 January, 2001