Pastoral may be defined as, " an approach of caring for the life of the parish as a whole." Lay councils were mandated during Vatican 2 and are governed by specific Cannon laws. Since the 1990s, Parish Pastoral Councils have been tasked with engaging in long-range planning for the parish. They assist the pastor in discerning the needs of the parish, deciding which needs are crucial, implementing strategies to meet those needs, and involving other members of the parish in becoming a "vibrant community for Christ."
First of all, the people of the Parish Pastoral Council consult with the Pastor when asked. The primary function is a consultative one. They listen, they gather information, organize it and present to the pastor regarding crucial issues of import to the parish. The pastoral councillors work for and with the pastor. They help the pastor make decisions concerning these issues.
In addition, they try to plan for the future of the parish to see that the parishioners have the opportunity to grow and flourish in their relationship with God. They review or devise a mission statement and make sure that it reflects the present reality. In addition, they also come up with a vision statement, that is, a statement that will bring the parish into the future. The work of the Parish Pastoral Council is both practical and visionary. It is practical in that it ensures the work is being carried out in the present, and it is visionary in that it proposes how the parish should be journeying with God in the future.
The Parish Pastoral Council also has a prophetic function as it is always challenging the status quo and ensuring that the parish never remains a static entity but is always growing closer to God. The people of the Parish Pastoral Council do the work that ensures the spiritual growth of the parishioners ,through the grace of God. By doing this work, the parish pastoral Council and parishioners carry the work of the Gospel out into the world. The parish pastoral councillors are enthusiastic about the parish as it now exists and as it could exist in the future. Other skills possessed by Parish pastoral councillors are collaborative and consensus-building.
The Energy Within : Parish Pastoral Council Today. 2017. Dublin. Veritas. Pages 33 to 36