Parish Financial Council – A Spiritual Reflection
Background and Rationale:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19). This is the call of Christ for a Catholic parish. The way each parish lives this out is determined by the gifts and charisms of its people and that particular local parish church, the needs of the People of God, and the means by which the parish and community can respond to those needs.
The Parish Mission is lived out in Word and in Deed. The fruit is seen in a growth of enthusiasm and commitment. Each generation has had to answer the question for themselves on how this gets lived out in this church community at this particular time. We are asked to take the Gospel message, expressed in the St. Monica Parish Mission, and put it “into conversation with the ‘signs of the times’” (In other words, “What is going on around us? What are we called to do about it?”)
How is this discerned?
Two different consultative bodies are put in place in a parish to discern and guide God’s call in that particular, geographic community. For years, Canon (or “Church”) Law stipulated that parishes must have a Parish Finance Council:
… which is governed, in addition to universal law, by norms issued by the diocesan bishop and in which the Christian faithful, selected according to these same norms, are to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish (Canon #537).
Soon after the start of the new millennium, a new appreciation was developed for the work of another consultative bodies in fostering mutual relationships between the clergy and the laity. St. Pope John Paul II wrote that Parish Pastoral Councils,
… enable the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mold communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in a particular society and particular culture (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 29).
In 2005, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia formalized the idea of clergy and lay leaders working together to seek new and creative methods to live fully the Catholic mission in the context of contemporary life. Thus a move to establish “Parish Pastoral Councils” was initiated.
During Lent I am asking the Parish of St. Monica to help me discern and call new members to both our Parish Finance and Parish Pastoral Council. New members will begin in around May of this year. Next week I shall provide information on a Parish Pastoral Council. This week I provide material concerning membership in a Parish FINANCE Council here. Additional information will be available on-line and in the church lobby.
What is a Parish FINANCE Council?
The stewardship of parish goods is regulated by Church Law (also known as “Canon Law”). This outlines certain rights and responsibilities of both parties. The Pastor is appointed by the Archbishop of the archdiocese and represents the parish in all juridical affairs in accord with the norm of the law (Civil and Canon). It is his responsibility to see that the goods of the parish are administered in accord with the norms of Canon Law (Canon #532). To assist in this venture, each parish is to have a Finance Council, which is regulated by universal law as well as by norms issued by the diocesan bishop. In this council the Christian faithful, selected according to the same norms, aid the pastor in the administration of parish goods. (Canon #537) As administrators of the ecclesiastical goods of the parish, the Parish Finance Council members are bound by their office to present the Archbishop with an annual report and render an account to the faithful of the Church (Canon #1287).
The principal responsibilities of the Parish Financial Council are to assist the Pastor in rendering an account of the finances of the parish to the archbishop; to assist the Pastor in making appropriate reports to the faithful of the parish at least annually concerning parish revenues and expenditures; to assist the Pastor by providing counsel concerning the general care and administration of parish property and finances.
Suggested ways in which the above-mentioned responsibilities can be fulfilled are to primarily assist the Pastor in the preparations and arrangement of data for the annual budget and to review, on at least a semi-annual basis, the financial status of the parish. In addition the Finance Council may assist the Pastor by providing counsel in regard to major decisions concerning parish collections, significant administrative issues, assets and property as well as decisions concerning unusual administration issues.