Parish Center: 101 Oakcrest Manor Drive NE
Leesburg, VA 20176             T: 703-777-1317

Parish Council


The mission of the Parish Council of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church is to aid the pastor through prudent advice and knowledge in the fostering of our Catholic liturgy and worship, the development of stewardship, and the education of our parish family for the glory of God and the fulfillment of the mission of Jesus and His Church. The Parish Council is a board of parish members appointed by the pastor to serve in a consultative capacity.

Parish Council Basis, Purpose, and Operating Principles

Enshrined in Canon 228 of the Code of Canon Law is the right and duty of laypersons to advise and assist the pastor. It states that laypersons who excel in knowledge, prudence, and uprightness may assist the pastor as advisors to include the formation of councils. Additionally, "there comes from Vatican Council II the theological basis for the layman's right and duty actively to participate with pastors in the threefold mission of Jesus and His church: to proclaim God's word to others, to sanctify others by His gifts of sacrament and sacrifice, and to lead others actively to His promise of eternal life." (From A Pastoral Letter on Consultation in the Parish by the late Bishop John R. Keating.)

The Parish Council's purpose is best described in the late Bishop John R. Keating's Pastoral Letter. He states "the role of the pastoral council is to help the pastor identify pastoral needs in the parish help him plan pastoral programs and improve pastoral services, evaluate the effectiveness of existing programs and services with a view to their improvement or, at times, their substitution or termination." It is the goal of the Parish Council to provide prudent advice to the pastor on existing matters and projects and aid in the establishment of visionary objectives.

What the Parish Council is not:

  • It is not an elected body.

  • It is not a legislative, decision-making, or voting body.

  • It is not a finance council.

  • It is not a grievance board, nor the primary method for the pastor to take a pulse of parish opinion.

  • It is not an administrative body.

Operating principles:

  1. Appointment of members. Members are selected and appointed by the pastor from a broad section of parish life.

  2. Meeting dates. Meetings are held bi-monthly, September through May, or as needed.

  3. Procedural practices are kept simple. As the structure of the board is advisory, there is no need for strict regulations. The pastor freely sets his criteria for selection of appointments. A chairperson facilitates the meeting and a scribe takes minutes.

  4. The scope and agenda are limited. The council's objective is to provide sound, informed advice on parish matters. It therefore places emphasis on quality and not quantity.

  5. The agenda is selected by the pastor. Council members are free to add to the agenda. However, the pastor in his leadership role selects topics and projects to be addressed.

  6. The pastor and parochial vicars are not members of the council. This is typical of the structure in any ecclesial advisory body. For example, the Holy Father is not a member of the College of Cardinals.

  7. Listening outweighs speaking. Both the pastor and the pastoral council members are committed to the principle that the ability to listen is far more valuable for the good of the parish. The ability to "feel with the Church" (sentire cum ecclesia) is far more productive to good pastoral activity than the ability to promote one's own logical reasoning.

  8. If there is no pastor, there is no council. If for any reason the parish no longer has its pastor, the pastoral council will cease all activity until the new pastor reconvenes the council.

  9. Communication. A summary of minutes will be available to all parishioners. It is the intent of the pastor and the council to provide information as to the content and substance of issues discussed.