The word “Church” has its origins in the Greek word ἐκκλησία (ekklesia) which means a group of people called and assembled for a specific purpose. Before the word ever became associated with buildings or was used exclusively to refer to the clergy – it denoted the people assembled by Jesus Christ to bring his transformative good news to every human heart. In the true sense of the word – you and I, we who have been baptised into Christ and confirmed in his Spirit – we are the Church.
Taking this idea to heart and speaking of the Church as the People of God, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), while recognising their different roles,
emphasised the joint responsibility of both clergy and laity when it comes to the Christian life. The Code of Canon Law (1983) enshrines this in parish structures when it decrees that: “In every parish in the diocese, a Pastoral Council shall be established, if the diocesan Bishop, after consulting with the Council of Presbyters, so decides.” (C. 536, §1) In Canon 537 it states that “In each parish, there is to be a Finance Committee to help the parish priest in the administration of the goods of the parish.”
Building on work already accomplished in the past and the experience of Parish Pastoral Councils throughout the Diocese of Clonfert, these new Norms for Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Finance Committees have been drawn up in consultation with the Council of Priests and the Parish Restructuring and Renewal Committee.
It is my hope that their publication will be an opportunity for members of current and future Parish Pastoral Councils and Parish Finance Committees along with our Priests to reflect on their particular mission and to become key players in the restructuring and renewal of parish and diocesan life that these days so urgently demand of us all.
Let us pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all involved.
Come from the four winds, O Spirit,
come breath of God; disperse the shadows over us,
renew and strengthen your people.
Bishop Michael Duignan