Integritas offers a faith formation programme for members of parish pastoral councils which is rooted in Christian spirituality, while remaining explicitly true and obedient to the requirements of canon law in the Roman Catholic Church. This course is based upon the following document which is offered as a precedent statement of the ‘Constitution and Spirituality’ of a parish pastoral council. The development of parish pastoral councils has been fraught with problems which the approach outlined in this document seeks to address :
- Members of parish pastoral councils receive little or no spiritual sustenance from being involved. These councils need to become groups where their members develop their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ and with each other and where they are enriched in their experience of Christian faith. They need to spiritually grow into local bodies in which people in each parish become deeply educated and professional in Christian faith and ready to meet the challenges of an increasingly secular society with a greatly diminished number of priests.
- A parish pastoral council needs to be precisely fixed upon its goverance (constitution) and yet fluid to receive and respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit (spirituality) at the same time. Hence, a Council needs to be grounded in a statement, such as the following precedent, which is in accordance with the canonical authority of the parish priest while also being attuned to how the Holy Spirit can be discerned through each of its members. This is the essence of co-responsibility.
- The spiritual growth of parish pastoral councils is often stunted by parish priests who feel threatened in their authority by its development and equally by its members who believe that they are not listened to and reduced to mere functionaries of the will of the parish priest. These corresponding problems need to be overcome by adopting and acting upon a foundational document approved by the diocesan bishop, such as this precedent, which honours the canonical authority of the parish priest while also being dynamically open and respectful to the movement of the Holy Spirit in each of the council’s members.
- People are brought on to a parish pastoral council with no understanding of its spiritual nature and objectives and with no clarification of them to act from. These councils therefore need to be clear as to their spiritual vision and objectives or else they become reduced to secular pursuits and fail to meed the spiritual needs of the parish. Each council therefore needs a statement of its constitution and spirituality, approved by the diocesan bishop to ground its existence and mission.
This course is therefore based upon the following precedent document for a parish pastoral council, entitled ‘Constitution and Spirituality’, which is in accordance with canon law and yet which seeks to honour the importance of discernment of the interior movement of the Holy Spirit in each of its members and in the council as a collective body.