On Thursday, the Parish Pastoral Council will meet with the candidates who were nominated to fill the four Council positions that will become vacant in May.  Almost 30 parishioners were nominated and I want to take this opportunity to thank those who submitted nominations and to encourage those who were nominated for the Council to prayerfully consider this call to serve our parish in this unique ministry.  It is, indeed, an important one as the Pastoral Council offers me invaluable insight and counsel in the pastoral service of the parish.

As I noted a few weeks ago, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Rational, Principles and Guidelines for Parish Pastoral Councils states that “The purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council is to foster full participation of the entire parish in the life and mission of the parish and of the Universal Church. …The general function of this Council is to advise the pastor in those pastoral matters presented to it by the pastor.  It carries out its function by informing the pastor of the needs and concerns, gifts and resources of the whole parish and its members.”

Ever since I was assigned here 12 years ago, the Parish Pastoral Council has been very involved in helping me, as pastor of this wonderful parish, to focus on the pastoral needs of the parish.  Over these years, we have met with the leaders of all of the parish organizations to learn about their ministries and how they contribute to fulfilling the role of our parish to build a faith-filled community.  The Pastoral Council was instrumental in strengthening our youth ministry, stewardship and evangelization efforts.  It was also heavily involved as our parish joined with all parishes throughout the Archdiocese in an in-depth evaluation of parish life through the Disciple Makers Index.  We have developed two parish pastoral plans over these 12 years and, most recently, developed our Next Generation Pastoral Plan which is being implemented this year through the efforts of three very active committees:  Liturgy Experience, Parishioner Engagement and Faith Sharing.  I’m sure you’re already seeing the results of their hard work.  There is a greater variety in our liturgical music at our Sunday Masses, our children are being given opportunities to live out their faith through various activities in the parish coffees after the 9:30am Masses, new parishioners are being invited to get involved in parish activities and more parishioners are sharing their faith as they attend evangelization meetings.  All of these new initiatives that have sprung from the pastoral plan have built on the strong foundation of our parish and continue help us to grow as a community of faith.

In addition to working on these parish initiatives, the Pastoral Council members provide me with extremely helpful advice and recommendations in so many areas, from installing air conditioning in the school to a new pipe organ in church and from promoting a Parish Directory to deciding when to resume communion under both species at Mass.  Our virtual meetings during the coronavirus pandemic were particularly helpful for my staff and me as we navigated those challenging times.

I hope you can see the important role that the Pastoral Council plays in the parish and recognize what it has accomplished over the years.  We need parishioners who understand the purpose of a parish and are in tune with parishioners who can help to continue our mission of building a faithful community.  The Pastoral Council only meets six or seven times a year but these meetings are crucial in helping us all direct the parish to be an ever clearer sign of God present in our midst.  Please keep all of this in mind when electing the new members.  Elections will take place after Easter; you will hear more about that as election time approaches.