Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Avoiding Pastoral Council Membership

"Won't I be eating insults...Won't I be  hurt and scared...Won't I have less time?" were the typical answers to the question: What did you fear the most when becoming a member of the parish council? It is for such reasons that many refuse to participate in these councils intrusted with managing the pastoral activities of the parish.

An article and editorial in the Peace Weekly examine the problems likely to be faced by parish councils, which by canon law should be advisory groups, but which are actually the decision makers (though still in conformity with canon law) in many parishes because of the pastoral orientation of the priest. A good sign, says the editorial, that councils are reflecting the wishes of the parishioners.

However, there are parishes where the pastor and council are not working together. Sometimes the pastor arbitrarily makes his own decisions without consultation,  irritating  the council, and sometimes the parish council goes ahead without consulting with the pastor, even against the wishes of the pastor. The council also occasionally does not present the opinion of the parishioners to the pastor, and sometimes the council is in conflict with the parishioners.

For this reason, there are many who do not want to serve on the council. If they do well they will suffer, if they don't do well they will be insulted. There are also members of the council who treat it like a government position, and some who use it to further their own business interests. Obviously not the proper motivations for a Christian.

To help pastoral council members adapt, understand, and find satisfaction in their work, the Seoul diocese has devised a study and training program for new members.  At the beginning of the program, they were told that more important than the work are the people involved and their relationship with one another. With this in mind the work would be more easily accomplished.

Several factors, however, needed to be addressed to achieve the goal:  maintain an interest in others, keep promises, take the lead, praise and encourage, be generous in recognizing and supporting others. There will be another meeting at the end of this month for this first group appointed to their parish councils.The editorial hopes this initiative for improving the quality of pastoral work will spread throughout the Korean Church.

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