One of the unique aspects of our Lady of Hope parish, in Middle Village, is its Pastoral Council. The Pastoral Council is made up of twelve parishioners chosen by the Council. Usually, in May, nominations go out to all parishioners interested in being on the Council or, to nominate someone a parishioner thinks a good representative of the people. Then, in early June, the Council hosts a "Meet and Greet" evening whereby the present Council members meet the nominees on an informal basis to discuss how the Council works, its schedule and, above all, to answer questions from the nominees. At the June meeting, the Council prayerfully discerns the four new members. Members are chosen for a three-year term and, at the end of the three years, they leave the Council. So, each year four members leave and four new members are chosen. There are simple By-Laws which govern how the Council functions.
But, why is the Council important and why does it work so well? First, the Council is advisory. They advise the pastor, Very Rev. Michael A. Carrano, on any issue that affects parish life from liturgy, education, finances, spirituality, community issues, etc. The President of the Council Henry Zalak, prepares an Agenda for each meeting. Any Council member may suggest an item for the Agenda. The meetings are held once a month from September to June.
The meetings begin with a Prayer, conducted by the Spirituality Committee of the Council.
What is so special about the meetings is that all opinions and ideas are heard. When an item comes up for discussion any member may address the issue freely and is heard. That is very crucial to the life of the Council everyone's voice is heard. When the time arrives for a decision the Council may vote by secret ballot or by consensus. Whatever decision is finally made accepted.
For example, when our Catholic School was becoming an Academy Ms. Michele Krebs, our Principal, came to one of the meetings. At the meeting she discussed the Guidelines for Academies, how the Board of the Academy was chosen and answered all the questions of the Council Members.
Also, when the "Generations of Faith" Diocesan Campaign began, the pastor explained the purpose of the Campaign, the schedule of the Campaign and the way the parishioners were going to be approached about giving. He then answered all questions from the Council Members.
Also, the pastor encourages the members of the Council to discuss what takes place, at the meetings, with the parishioners so that they can be informed about our discussions and about action steps that the Council will undertake.
The Council members are extremely honest in their discussions, with their ideas and opinions that are freely given. The Council members truly listen to each other in a very respectful manner. One would say that the key words that identify the Pastoral Council are: honesty, integrity, openness, listening, expressing ideas and being heard.
Recognizing that the Council is an important group in the life of the parish, each year, around late February or early March, the Members go to a Retreat Center on Long Island on a Sunday afternoon. A guest speaker conducts the Retreat which goes from 2 PM to 6PM followed by Vespers and dinner. The retreat is not about the business of the Council. It is about their spirituality as leaders in the parish. In fact, this year, the retreat is taking place on Sunday, February 19 with Bishop James Massa as the Presenter.
For all of these reasons the Pastoral Council is a very joyful group of parishioners from all walks of life that enjoy being at the meetings and forming a real community as leaders above all to serve the wonderful people of our Lady of Hope parish.