Introduction

Vatican II called on all Catholics to recognize and respond to their vocation to ministry. This call includes an invitation to lay people to participate in Church leadership “by reason of the knowledge, competence, or pre-eminence which they have the laity are empowered-indeed sometimes obliged—to manifest their opinion on those things which pertain to the good of the Church” (Lumen Gentium, 37)

Embracing the 2nd Vatican Council’s vision and in accord with Canons 536 and 537, the Bishop of San Jose mandates that each parish establish consultative bodies to foster pastoral activity and assist in the administration of the goods of the parish. At the parish level these bodies would include, but not be limited to, parish finance councils and parish pastoral councils. (“Ecclesiology for Consultative Bodies,” Diocese of San Jose)

The purpose of the pastoral council is to act as stewards of the parish mission and the parish strategic plan, and to advise the pastor and staff on practical matters of parish life. The council studies matters brought to its attention, thoroughly reflects on them, evaluates and draws sound conclusions. The council presents its findings to the pastor in the form of recommendations. This three-fold task: investigating, considering and recommending is called pastoral planning.

The members of the 2015/2016 Pastoral Council are:

 Mike Heintz (chair), Larry Armentano (co chair), Jennifer Lewis, Pam Parker, Laura Corbalis, Rick Pearce, Mike Winter, Chuck Page. Ex-officio: Fr. Gary Thomas, Pastor, Fr. Robert McKay, Parochial Vicar, Janice Thornburg, Parish Administrator

The members of the 2016/2017 Pastoral Council are:

 Larry Armentano (chair), Laura Corbalis, Rick Pearce, Mike Winter, Chuck Page, Julie Stallman, Michael Shirley, Jijen Vazhaeparambil. Ex-officio: Fr. Gary Thomas, Pastor, Fr. Robert McKay, Parochial Vicar, Janice Thornburg, Parish Administrator

The work of the council includes:

1. Reviews and communicates the parish vision, mission and strategic plan.
2. Develops goals based on the mission and the strategic plan of the parish.
3. Works, at times, with other groups to develop mission group goals.
4. Publishes and communicates the goals and progress of the strategic plan to the parish at large.
5. Supports other parish organizations to achieve goals.
6. Evaluates yearly the progress of the goals and strategic plan.
7. Organizes periodic town hall meetings to involve the parishioners at large about future planning

In addition, the council will be responsible to oversee the nomination period for discernment, as follows:

1. Announce to the parish at large when the nomination process begins and ends.
2. Place the nomination boxes in the church, parish center and school offices.
3. Collect the nomination boxes and ballots at the end of nominating period and deliver nominations to parish administrator who will compile the list. Pastor and/or Parish Administrator will contact all who have been nominated and seek nominee’s interest in consideration for council.

Date, Time and Place of Meetings

The pastoral council shall meet in the parish center on the each month except for the months of July and August. At present, this time is the second Monday of the month. The pastor reserves the right to alter a meeting time or add additional meetings for reasons that reflect the good of the parish.

Membership

The Sacred Heart Parish pastoral council shall consist of 7-9 standing members who shall be discerned for service through a discernment process as outlined by diocesan guidelines. The membership of the council includes as ex-officio members, the pastor, parish administrator and any assigned parochial vicars. A member of the parish council rotates to serve as recording secretary. Council members must be Catholic, committed to the Eucharist and the Word of God. They should be good listeners, skilled to envision the future, possess consensus and bridge building skills and attentive to detail. They must be available to attend Council meetings, be active members of one if not more of Parish Mission groups. Council membership terms shall be for 3 years. Council nominees do not represent or advocate a particular agenda or constituency group within the parish but rather represent the interests of the parish as a whole. Membership cannot be renewed with a consecutive term but former members can be re-nominated and discerned after a one year hiatus.
The pastor reserves the right to ask members to remain on the Council after their term expires if circumstances warrant such a decision. The council must decide this action with unanimous consensus.

Discernment Committee

The discernment committee shall be appointed by the pastor with recommendations from the following constituencies:

1. School Board – 1 member
2. Grow Our Catholic Faith – 1 member
3. Welcome the Community – 1 member
4. Act as Christians in the World – 1 member
5. Worship Together – 1 member
6. Build Our Parish Family – 1 member

The discernment committee shall be trained and overseen by a skilled facilitator who has experience with the discernment process. This process is based on the model of the selection process for leadership in women’s religious orders. The facilitator is a member of an order who discerns leadership through this process.

The tasks of the discernment committee are as follows:
1. Attend the information session following the nominating phase at which time those who have been nominated and seek further discernment are present to learn more about the Council and its work.
2. Participate in the actual interview process with the nominees to determine which candidates would best serve on the Council.
3. Submit the names of chosen Council candidates to the facilitator with clear reasons explaining choices for or against Council membership.

Discernment Process

The discernment process for Pastoral Council membership shall contain the following steps:
1. Nominations for pastoral council discernment shall be announced no sooner than three months (90 days) before the end of each fiscal year. (April 1st) Nomination boxes with nomination forms shall be placed and identified in the church vestibule, front office of the parish center religious education and school office counters. The nominating period shall last for 30 days from the date of announcement. Anyone who is at least 16 years of age, a practicing Catholic, devout to the Eucharist and Word of God and a member of the parish for at least 1 year can be considered for nomination.
2. The pastor and/or his delegate contact all nominees to ascertain their desire to consider membership on the council.
3. An information meeting date is set and all nominees who express a willingness to consider further discernment are invited to attend. Attendance at this meeting is mandatory for consideration of candidacy. Also, in attendance is the facilitator for the discernment committee, the pastor, and at least one member of the council, preferably the chair. Each will explain their role in discernment process. The pastor and council chairperson will explain the work of the council and the chair will discuss the experience of the council and the pastor will express his vision of the council. The meeting will have a prayer service component and at the conclusion of prayer, the nominees will be asked to decide if they wish to proceed with further discernment with the discernment committee. All in attendance will be thanked and those nominees who express an affirmative decision to continue will then establish a date, time and place to meet with the discernment committee. Neither the pastor nor any pastoral council member has any further contact with the discernment committee unless the committee wishes to seek clarification about a matter.
4. The interviews are then scheduled to take place within 7 days from the information meeting. All interviews are kept in strictest confidence. The discernment committee then decides on the viability of each nominee and submits their choices depending on the number of vacancies.
5. The pastor is then contacted by the discernment committee facilitator once the committee has reached its decision and presents the names of nominees for selection. The pastor and/or parish administrator then contacts all nominees within 24 hours and conveys the decision of the discernment committee. The pastor then publishes the results in the parish bulletin and contacts the members of the council to convey the results.
6. The new incoming members are presented at the June meeting of the pastoral council and the outgoing members are thanked for their years of service. Appreciation is expressed to the outgoing members of the council for their years of service. A small token or symbol of expressing gratitude should be offered to each outgoing member.