CONSTITUTION OF THE ST EDMUND’S PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL
The Catholic Parish of St Edmund, comprising Bungay, Harleston and District, is broadly speaking subject to the Bishop of East Anglia in matters pastoral, spiritual and sacramental, and the Abbot of Downside in matters relating to finance, property and the incumbent priest. The Parish Priest is appointed by the Bishop on nomination by the Abbot. The Parish Pastoral Council has no official status in either civil or canon law. In this respect it differs from the Parish Finance Committee, which has canonical status, and the Downside Missions Trust, which has civil status as Trustees of a registered charity.
The Council is thus a consultative committee which advises the Parish Priest on matters relating to the pastoral life of the parish. It does not normally vote but strives to reach a consensus on matters under discussion. The Priest is not bound to follow its advice because canonically he alone is responsible under the Bishop for the pastoral life of the parish.
The Council meets under and by summons of its Chairman or of the Parish Priest (who is ex officio Deputy Chairman). The Chairman is normally a parishioner co-opted by consensus for a specified number of years on nomination by the Parish Priest.
In addition to the Chairman and Deputy Chairman, the Council consists of a number of parish officials, two elected Bungay representatives and two elected Harleston representatives. Subject to revision by the Council itself, the parish officials are currently: the Treasurer, the Coordinator of the Children’s Liturgy, the Youth Leader (if any), the Communications Officer and the Headteacher of St Edmund’s Primary School (or if not resident in the parish, a representative). Officials are appointed indefinitely by the Parish Priest. Additional members may be co-opted by the Council up to a maximum of two.
Representatives hold their positions for two years and resign at the end of the Annual General Meeting in even-numbered years (* because of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 this is now changed to odd-numbered years). Co-opted members and co-opted replacements of representatives resigning mid-term also resign at this meeting. Voting is by a secret ballot of bona fide members of the parish personally present at the AGM (or at any of the three Masses held on the weekend of the AGM) on a list of pre-nominated candidates.
Any parish member may nominate up to two candidates. The candidates with the highest and second-highest numbers of votes are declared elected. If there is a tie for first place, only the two longest-resident parishioners in the tie are deemed elected. If there is a tie for second place, the longer or longest-resident parishioner in the tie is deemed elected, together with the candidate in first place.
The representatives, but not necessarily the officials, stand down from the PPC for at least two years when they have served two terms (four years). Within that time frame an individual who is an official may simultaneously serve as a representative.