Sacred Heart Church North Gosforth

Constitution for the Parish Pastoral Council

The Parish Pastoral Council (The Council) as the body elected by the parishioners will be consultative and act in an advisory capacity to the Parish Priest, who has overall responsibility to the bishop for the conduct of parish affairs, in the running of the parish in areas of Christian Formation and Social/Community Affairs.


  1. The purpose of the Parish Pastoral Council is to enable all parishioners to participate more fully in the life of the Church as expressed in the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.
  2. To this end full co-operation between the Council, parish groups and the Parish Priest is essential. Parish groups are those operating in the name of or on behalf of the Sacred Heart Parish and they are accountable to the Parish Priest and the Council. Any new group must have prior permission to use the parish name.
  3. The specific task of the Council is to initiate co-operation and promote the work and growth of the Church in two areas: Christian Formation and Social and Community Affairs.
  4. The Council shall discharge these duties:
    1. By reviewing regularly both areas;
    2. By Councillors undertaking special responsibility for one area or one aspect of an area.
  5. The Council should for example:
    1. Advise the parish priest about any matter on which he seeks advice;
    2. Assess any needs referred to it by the parish priest, parishioners or the other parish groups and if possible identify how best to satisfy those needs;
    3. Support the work of parish groups where possible by identifying priorities, making quick effective decisions and helping with exchange of information and ideas;
    4. Promote active interest and participation by parishioners in the activities of the parish.

Parish Development:

The Council shall assist the Parish Priest in:

  1. Christian Formation: The church’s fundamental mission of preaching the Gospel to everyone and empowering them to live in the Image of Christ.
  2. Social and Community Affairs: Care for the well being of people in all matters not specifically spiritual.

The Parish Pastoral Council:

The Council shall consist of the Parish Priest, the Parish Treasurer, the Parish Child Protection Co-ordinator, six members elected from all Mass congregations and representatives of Parish groups as below. Any other Priest or Deacon working in the parish may be invited to meetings of the Parish Pastoral Council but shall not have voting rights.


The Parish Priest shall be the President of the Parish Pastoral Council.


  1. The Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council shall be a person appointed by the Council from amongst its members.
  2. There shall be a Vice-chair appointed as above.
  3. In the absence of the Chair and Vice-chair those present of the Council shall agree a member to take the chair at that meeting.


The Parish Treasurer appointed by the Parish Priest shall be ex-officio member of the Parish Pastoral Council and a member of the Finance Committee.


The Secretary shall be a lay person appointed by the Council from among its members.

Child Protection Co-ordinator:

The Parish Child Protection Co-ordinator appointed by the Parish Priest shall be an ex-officio member of the Council.

Parish Group Members:

Each organisation within the Parish shall elect one representative from their number to serve on the Council.


The Council may co-opt up to three additional members in order to ensure an appropriate skills mix as determined by Council.

Election of Members:

  1. Those eligible to be elected shall be persons who normally attend Mass in the Parish. Elections will take place by secret ballot at all masses at dates to be publicised in the Bulletin.
  2. Elected members shall serve three years and if eligible may stand for re-election. Elected members may not serve more than six consecutive years.
  3. If a vacancy occurs during the year a new member shall be elected to complete the remaining term of office. A vacancy arises if a member dies, resigns in writing or has not attended meetings on three consecutive occasions without reasonable cause.

Election of Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary:

  1. Written nominations shall be invited for all posts. If more than one person were nominated for any post a secret ballot shall be held.
  2. When these positions are to be elected this shall be the first item of business after the opening prayer.
  3. Those elected by the Council shall serve for a term of three years and may not serve for more than two consecutive terms.

Parish Pastoral Council Meetings:

The Council shall meet at least every three months or as determined by the Parish Priest and Chair. Meetings will not normally be held in August or at Christmas.

Council meetings shall be open to all parishioners. All present shall be invited to participate but only Councillors may vote (except as covered by paragraph two on alterations).

Two weeks’ notice shall be given of all meetings.


At a Council meeting one third of all Council members shall be a quorum.


Normally voting at Council meetings shall be a show of hands (including the Chair’s). A secret ballot shall be taken on any issue where the Parish Priest or a simple majority of those present, request it. If voting (by either method) is equal the Chair shall have the casting vote.

Annual Meeting:

Once a year the Parish Priest shall convene the Parish for the annual report by the Parish Pastoral Council on parish activities.

Special Parish Meetings:

The Council by a simple majority or the Parish Priest can at any time request that a meeting of the whole parish be held to discuss and vote upon any specific issue.

Two weeks’ notice shall be given for such a meeting.

Alterations to the Constitution:

  1. The Council shall review the constitution at least every three years.
  2. Any proposal to alter this Constitution shall be referred to the Council to consider and report to a special parish meeting.
  3. All parishioners may vote on the proposed constitutional alteration. A majority of two thirds of those present and entitled to vote shall be required for the alteration to be accepted.

At least two weeks’ notice shall be given of the meeting.