Bishop da Cunha Building Faith Blog Fall River Diocese

The Diocesan Pastoral Council

The Second Vatican Council urged every diocese to establish a pastoral council “whose responsibility is to investigate under the authority of the Bishop all those things which pertain to pastoral works, to ponder them, and to propose practical conclusions about them” (Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops, no.27).

Here in the Diocese of Fall River, our Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) meets quarterly and serves to advise me on a variety of matters that are or may become concerns in the Diocese. The Council consists of representatives from all five deaneries — Taunton, Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford, and Cape Cod and the Islands. It convenes four or five times a year, sharing with me what is happening around the Diocese. Additionally, this group of men and women—clergy and laity—work with me to discuss any current issues emerging in parishes, communities, the culture, or the broader Church.

To that end, we often bring in guests to provide news and updates from departments, agencies, and organizations across the Diocese, such as our Catholic Schools Superintendent, Diocesan agency leaders, and various Diocesan department directors and staff. While our meetings are only quarterly, they serve an important role in the well-being of our Diocese. The Council offers me an invaluable opportunity to gain insight into what is happening in our parishes and deaneries. I am grateful to this trusted, dedicated group for the time they give, the insights they offer, and the assistance serving in this advisory role provides me as Bishop. 

The DPC operates exactly as a Parish Pastoral Council but with a focus on the Diocese.

people meeting with the bishop sitting at tables

Pastoral Councils on the Parish Level

The Code of Canon Law calls for the establishment of a Pastoral Council in every parish.

Can. 536 § 1. If the diocesan bishop judges it opportune after he has heard the presbyteral council, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish, over which the pastor presides and which the Christian faithful, together with those who share in pastoral care by virtue of their office in the parish, assist in fostering pastoral activity.

In the Diocese of Fall River, every parish is required to have a Pastoral Council.

The Second Vatican Council, in its Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, expresses the good which it expects to result from this type of collaboration between laity and clergy. 

“A great many benefits are to be hoped for from this familiar dialogue between the laity and their pastors; in the laity, a strengthened sense of personal responsibility, a renewed enthusiasm, a more ready application of their talents to the projects of their pastors. The latter, for their part, aided by the experience of the laity, can more clearly and more suitably come to decisions regarding spiritual and temporal matters. In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, can more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world.”

Just as the Diocese benefits from the work of its Council, I believe strongly that pastors and parishes will find a regular meeting of their Parish Councils indispensable to the life of their faithful communities. The Councils serve in an advisory role for the pastor, dedicated to the ministry activities and opportunities of the parish. Members work together to assess the apostolic needs of the parish and, when necessary, propose the means by which these needs may be met. Areas of focus or topics may include spirituality of the parish, evangelization, worship, faith formation, youth ministry, community service, stewardship, fellowship, and leadership. 

To be clear, Parish Councils are not decision-making entities; the ultimate responsibility for the parish and the decisions affecting it always remains with the Pastor or Administrator. The Diocesan website has more details regarding membership, responsibilities, and meetings in the document Parish Pastoral Council Statutes (December 2021).


Diocesan Wedding Celebration Mass

The annual Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Celebration will take place on February 11, at 3:00 pm, in St. Mary’s Cathedral. We invite couples observing significant wedding anniversaries this year (including their first year!) to please join us. If you are interested in joining us, please speak to your pastor to register by January 16th.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha

Diocese of Fall River
Diocese of Fall River
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