Parish Constitution
<< Go Back

The Parish Council of St. Mary of the Assumption Church Cambridge, Vermont

We are the Roman Catholic Community of St. Mary's Parish, Cambridge, Vermont. We are sharing God's love, striving to exemplify Christ's life through our actions and growing in our relationship with God by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

We believe that our faith in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit finds its highest expression through our participation in the liturgy and we believe that the example of Jesus, Mary and Joseph helps us in our daily profession of belief in the presence of God in our lives. Both are meant to enhance community worship and to deepen personal spiritual life.

We believe that as Catholic Christians we have a duty to spread the Good News and that a primary task of our parish is to provide education and formation opportunities to our children, high school and college students, and for our adults.

We believe that everyone is endowed with personal gifts from God for the community and ought to be invited to participate especially in liturgy, as well as in all other parish programs.

We hope to implement our beliefs by frequently celebrating the Eucharist together, as well as by sharing in all the other sacraments in community whenever possible; by evangelizing and living our faith daily, by providing quality religious education for all ages; by reaching out to those in need, in our parish and in the wider community; and by reflecting unity in Christ by working together in all our parish organizations.

In all that we do, let us be inspired by the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, Love one another as I have loved you!

Article I: Nature and Purpose

The Parish Council coordinates and unifies parish activities. Representatives of clergy, religious and laity work together to clarify the vision of the parish in light of the Gospel, the Catholic Tradition, and the policies and directives of the Bishop of Burlington. They assess the parish's resources and advise the Pastor on the direction of the parish toward realistic goals and objectives.

The Parish Council provides the means and the mechanism that enables everyone in the parish to contribute to the building of the Christian community and to participate in Christ's mission. The Council, together with the Pastor, promotes the spiritual welfare of all persons within the parish.

Article II: Organization

The Parish Council is made up of:

  • The Pastor
  • Nine Elected Members
  • A Youth Representative
  • Members at large
  • Parish Staff
  • Standing Committee Chairpersons

    The Parish Council shall have six Missions:

    • Prayer and Worship (Liturgy)
    • Christian Formation
    • Social Concerns
    • Buildings and Grounds
    • Parish Life
    • Evangelization

    Article III: Membership

    The Pastor is a unique member of the Parish Council, following these defined roles:

    a) As spiritual leader of the parish faith community, the Pastor is appointed by the Bishop to provide pastoral care as his representative and is responsible by Canon Law to teach, govern and sanctify the faith community, with the assistance of other responsible members of the community.
    b) The Pastor participates in the Parish Council with voice and vote. It is understood that if there is no definite objection by the Pastor during the decision-making process, all decisions and resolutions of the Parish Council become parish policy. A veto by the pastor during the Council deliberations, registered publicly as a strong objection, suspends action on that issue. Both pastor and the Council understand that either may appeal to the Bishop for direction, clarification or decision on any issue.
    c) The pastor is expected to consult with the Parish Council and its Commissions and Committees in all important parish matters, giving due consideration to all deliberations of the Parish Council.
    d) The pastor has the right to call a Parish Council meeting, by notifying the Parish Council Chair to call the meeting, providing a specific agenda. All other meetings happen as scheduled, and are planned with an agenda prepared by the Chair, the pastor, and at least two (2) other members of the Council.
    e) The pastor, by Canon Law, is legally responsible with the Bishop and the Diocese for all decisions of the Parish Council. Laity are to predominate in the council membership. Elected laity shall always constitute a majority with voice and vote.
    • Laity must be members in good standing of the parish and eighteen (18) years or older.
    • They are to be elected by the adult parishioners.
    • Elected members have a term of three (3) years. Members may be elected for a second term after which they must retire for at least one (1) year before becoming eligible for reelection.
    • In the event of resignation or ineligibility, the remaining members of the Council shall select a successor to serve the remainder of the term.
    • Youth of the parish are to have one (1) representative of high school age on the Council. The youth member will have voice and vote in recognition of our young people's vital importance to the parish.
      • The young people will elect this representative, or he/she may be appointed by the Council.
      • In the event of resignation, the youth will elect a replacement and advise the Chair of the successor within one (1) month. If they fail to do so, the Council may appoint a youth representative.
    • Members-at-large may be nominated by the Executive Committee and appointed by the Pastor for an appropriate amount of time when they can provide necessary services which are not otherwise available to the Council. They shall have voice and vote.
    • Associate pastors, parish assistants, and deacons are all members of the council. They may have voice, but no vote.
    • Standing committee chairpersons are members of the council with voice and vote.

    Article IV: Elections
    • Elections are to be held annually on the first Sunday of March.
    • A brief biographical sketch of those nominated for elections should be presented to the parishioners at least two (2) weeks prior to the election.
    • Elections should be arranged so that one-third (1/3) of the elected members will complete their terms each year.

    Article V: Officers

    The Parish Council will have as its officers a Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary.

    All Officers are to be elected at the first meeting following the March elections. To be eligible, members must have been elected to the Council and have served at least six months.

    The Officers are to serve for a term of one year. Officers may be elected succeed themselves during their term of membership.

    Together with the Pastor, the Officers form the Executive Committee of the Parish Council whose principle duties are:

    • to set the agenda
    • to publicize topics beforehand, and
    • to announce to the Parish actions that have been taken and approved by the Pastor

    Duties of the Officers

    a) The Chair presides at all meeting of the Parish Council. In doing so, the Chair should set a spiritual tone to the meetings, cultivate community among members, encourage freedom of discussion, and moderate debate with charity but firmness. The Chair assigns responsibilities to members, mindful of the world of the Lord, He who will be first among you shall be the servant of all. (MT 20,27)
    b) The Vice-Chair carries out the duties of the Chair in their absence and assists both Chair and Secretary as needed.
    c) The Secretary is responsible to see that members are notified of the time and place of Parish Council meetings, that minutes of each meeting are kept in a permanent record, that minutes are available to all Council members as soon after the meeting as possible, and that reports of committees are kept. The Secretary responds to requests for documentation and receives and responds to correspondence.

    Article VI: Missions

    The Parish Council, in order to facilitate its work of carrying out the mission of the Church, is to have the following missions which work in harmony and cooperation with one another under the guidance of the Pastor.

    a) Prayer, Worship, Liturgy - This Mission encompasses the various programs concerned with the spiritual life of the parish. The members plan and coordinate the liturgy, sacramental rites, and other programs of parish worship. They also encourage, by the means available, prayer in the home, retreats, missions, days of recollection, training for liturgical ministry, prayer groups, and proper care of the liturgical environment.
    b) Christian Formation - This Mission encompasses all religious education activities of the Parish including the religious education program, adult education, sacramental preparation, the youth ministry, and the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
    c) Social Concerns - This Mission initiates, develops and coordinates efforts in the areas of family life, life issues, works of mercy, and justice. The members advance social outreach in the wider community and among local Churches.
    d) Parish Life - This Mission promotes community building activities enabling parishioners to come together as brothers and sisters and experience the loving presence of the Lord. Included activities are in the areas of social gathers, fundraising, communication, hospitality, such as, the Parish picnic, newsletter, and coffee hour.
    e) Buildings and Grounds - This Mission has responsibility for the development, use and maintenance of all parish grounds and facilities.
    f) Evangelization - This Mission has the three-fold responsibility of continuing evangelization of the active members of the parish, reaching to the inactive Catholics in the parish, and proclaiming the Catholic Christian Tradition to others.
    The Parish Council shall appoint one of it's members to be the liaison for each of the mission areas.

    Parishioners are actively encouraged to participate in the programs and ministries under each of the six mission of the parish. Leadership is chosen by the committee in concurrence with the Council.

    The Pastor will act as teacher, counselor and guide for each Mission as he does for the Pastoral Council as a whole.

    Article VII: Meetings

    The Parish Council is to meet once a month and at such other times as called by the Pastor and Chair.

    All members are expected to attend all meetings of the Council. Members unable to attend should notify the Secretary in advance.

    A quorum shall exist when a majority of the elected members is present.

    The Council shall strive for consensus in all its decisions. If necessary, Robert's Rules of Order shall regulate all meetings.

    All parishioners are invited to attend Parish Council meetings. They have the right to speak, when recognized by the Chair, but they have no vote.

    The general format of the meeting shall be as follows:

    • Extended period of prayer with lay participation
    • Minutes of the previous meeting
    • Reports from Missions, both old and new business
    • Other old business
    • Other new business
    • Announcements
    • Closing Prayer

    Article VIII: Parish Planning and Reviews

    The Parish Council shall conduct a planning and review process. This planning process shall be on a three year rotating schedule for comprehensive updates. An annual review cycle of all mission activities shall provide for ensuring complete and comprehensive support.

    The Parish Council shall prepare a comprehensive pastoral mission plan and review schedule.

    a) A Parish Mission plan shall be developed and completely reviewed at least once every three years.
    b) The Parish Council shall conduct a review of all parish activities for all the members of the parish for incorporation into, update to, or elimination from the pastoral plan at least once during this three year cycle.
    c) Mission subcommittees shall be established and/or reorganized in accordance with the conclusions drawn from analyzing the results of these parish reviews.
    d) Three times a year the Council will schedule a presentation to the total parish on the activities and health of the parish. One of these presentations will be on the financial status of the parish and two shall be on the Council's activities.
    e) The Council shall be responsible for recommending consolidation, reorganization or discontinuation of subcommittees if appropriate.

    Subcommittees shall be established to support and achieve the pastoral missions of the parish.

    1. Subcommittees shall appoint a chairperson in concurrence with the Council.
    2. Subcommittees shall develop a mission statement.
    3. Subcommittees shall review, with the Parish Council, at least twice annually, the status of their subcommittees including total membership, active membership, current projects, status of recent projects and planned future projects.
    4. Subcommittees shall foster the Parish Mission goals by periodically presenting to the total parish membership the status and results of their activities.

    Article IX: Amendments to Constitution

    This Constitution may be amended at any Parish Council meeting by a two-thirds vote of Council members, provided that a copy of the proposed amendment(s) shall have been formally submitted to the Secretary at the preceding regular meeting published in the Parish Bulletin. The Secretary shall ensure distribution of the proposed amendment(s) to all members prior to the meeting.

    Amendments are subject to approval by the Pastor.