Laity advising Pastoral council starts new term
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One of the advisory boards Cardinal George regularly consults is the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. The APC is comprised of two laypeople from each deanery and some others the Cardinal appoints from throughout the archdiocese. The group meets regularly during the academic year and is starting off its new year next month. Stephen Kubiczky, president of the APC, recently spoke by e-mail with Editor Joyce Duriga about the work of the council.
Catholic New World: The APC is an advisory body mandated by the church’s canon law. Would you explain why canon law requires it and what exactly the APC does?
Stephen Kubiczky: Within the Catholic Church are many constituencies, each with its own focus and perspective. To lead effectively, the bishop must understand those perspectives. Various bodies assist the bishop. The Archdiocesan Pastoral Council responds to Cardinal George with information and honest opinion about matters on which he wishes our input. The phrase “a view from the pew” describes our basic function.
The mutual relation of the bishop and his laity is recognized in book 2, part 2, section 2, title 3, chapter V of the Code of Canon Law. Each diocese is to have a pastoral council reporting directly to the bishop.
CNW: What is the group’s relationship with Cardinal George?
Kubiczky: Cardinal George has a wonderfully authentic relationship with the APC. He has been candid with us about issues facing the church. I hope the Cardinal feels that the APC has been dedicated and forthright in its communications with him. Last year he challenged us to confront three aspects of violence (in families, in society and in communications) and pose ways the church might mediate an end to this plague.
Canon law leaves the exact structure and functioning of the Pastoral Council to the bishop. A smaller, more homogenous diocese can be less formal. Chicago is, however, large, complicated and diverse. Consequently, procedures for the APC parallel the complexity of the diocese. Formal Articles of Governance have been refined over many years. We expect a high quality of response to our assigned issues as well as a diverse representation reflecting the diversity of the diocese.
CNW: The APC is a way for lay people to have a role in the workings of the church. Why do you feel lay involvement in church governance is important?
Kubiczky: There are defined responsibilities for all Catholics. A bishop is to listen to his flock. Laity have the opportunity to engage directly in a respectful dialogue with their bishop. I feel great satisfaction when the Cardinal reminds us that the APC is his pastoral council. What more rewarding way is there to participate in operations of our church?
CNW: The APC gathered behind the Catholics at the Capitol event last year. Why was that important to the group?
Kubiczky: If, as the cardinal frequently reminds us, our mission as Catholics is to convert the world, we must be prepared to confront secular society. Public policy is not isolated from our mission but rather core to it.
The Archdiocese of Chicago is the largest identifiable group of Catholics in Illinois. The APC is fortunate to have some of the most dedicated and enthusiastic Catholics in the archdiocese. We participated in Catholics at the Capitol to let our government know that we care what they do about issues we believe important. To that end, a delegation of the APC visited the offices of many of Illinois’ most influential legislators.
CNW: How do people get involved in the APC? What is the time commitment?
Kubiczky: Generally, APC members are discerned by deanery pastoral councils. Each parish is to discern two representatives to the deanery pastoral council. Each council, which meets five times a year, is to discern two deanery delegates to the APC.
There are four APC committees (Archdiocesan Life, Spiritual Life, Human Concerns and Catholic Education) on the commission model familiar to many parishes. APC members are assigned to one committee. Committees meet five times a year.
The APC has five general meetings a year. Therefore, an APC member is expected to attend each year 15 meetings, approximately 2-3 hours each. Executive committee members have an additional five meetings a year.
As chair, I have also been privileged to serve as liaison to the Presbyteral Council and participate in the Strategic Planning Steering Committee.
Rather than speak in terms of the time commitment, I refer to my time on the APC as a privilege to engage in one of the most rewarding journeys any committed Catholic could experience.