Council of Consultors’ Handbook
The Board of Directors of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils (NFPC) has compiled this handbook to establish continuity in activities and functions for the Federation. The manual is not intended to be comprehensive or restrictive, but rather is a working document that will be updated, expanded or reduced as the needs of the organization dictate.
The Council of Consultors’ Handbook documents the structure that operates under the direction of the Board of Directors of the NFPC. The charge, activities, and structure of each committee and group are provided. The objectives of the handbook are as follows:
- To provide continuity from year to year as the membership fluctuates among the consultors and as the committee chairs and officers rotate
- To provide guidance to the Council of Consultors in terms of operation and structure of the organization
- To improve the consistency in the information provided to the Council of Consultors
2.0 General Information
This section of the handbook discusses participation on the Council of Consultors and the responsibilities of a consultor. In addition, it presents a general schedule for the consultors’ activities.
In accordance with the By-Laws, members of affiliated councils and associations of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils are eligible to serve on the Council of Consultors.
2.2 Consultor’s Responsibilities
The Council of Consultors shall be consultative and responsible for the ongoing dialogue that gives input and priority for raising issues and concerns for the Board of Directors. The Council of Consultors shall maintain, uphold, and keep the Federation wedded to the vision, mission, and purpose of the NFPC in light of the changing face of the American priesthood.
It is the responsibility of each consultor to attend the Council of Consultors’ Meetings, which are typically held twice a year. The fall meeting is held in Chicago, IL, the city of our founding and site of the national headquarters. The fall meeting is held during the last week of September. The spring meeting is held in conjunction with NFPC’s annual convention; the site varies. Although attendance at the Council of Consultors’ Meeting is not mandatory, the absence of a consultor has a negative impact on the continuity of the Council’s activities.
Each consultor is to be a member of his presbyteral council and represents the interests of NFPC within the province. The consultor contacts each affiliate member at least 4 times a year. The consultor seeks input regarding issues or concerns from the affiliate presbyteral council, which in turn are brought to the attention of the Council of Consultors and the Board of Directors. Concurrently, the consultor brings national issues that may impact a local presbyteral council or priests to the attention of the local presbyteral council.
The Consultor is asked to make contact with non-affiliated members at least once a year. He is to inquire about the status of the presbyterate, the council and to secure current information on the leadership of the council.
Consultors will submit a bi-annual report to the Federation at the time of our bi-annual gatherings.
Members of the Council of Consultors shall agree to the expectation of confidentiality upon joining the Council. Respect for confidentiality is the cornerstone of trust and confidence, as well as a legislated obligation. Once the president has given voice to a concern of the Council of Consultors, the consultor is free to discuss the topic with the local council and those within the province.
The affiliated members or associations of the Province elect a representative to the Council of Consultors for a term of three years. No Consultor can serve for more than two consecutive terms. In those provinces where a single diocese comprises membership in the Federation, the president, in collaboration with the Board of Directors, will consult with the presbyteral council of the diocese to verify the selection of a representative to the Council of Consultors.
Although the schedule for the Council of Consultors fluctuates somewhat, the general schedule for the Council’s activities is provided in Table 1.
Table 1. Schedule of the NFPC’s Council of Consultors’ Activities
|Fall Board Meeting||September/October|
|Spring Board Meeting||April/Convention|
|Election on New Consultors||April/Convention|
|Election of New Board Members||April/Convention|
|Beginning of Term for New Consultor||July 1|
|Beginning of Term for new Board Members||July 1|
This section of the Handbook introduces the mission statement and outlines the rules and regulations by which the organization operates.
3.1 Mission Statement
The National Federation of Priests’ Councils serves the mission of Jesus Christ and our common vocation as Catholic priests by supporting member Councils, Associations and Affiliates through collaboration, communication, continuing formation, research and the voicing of their concerns.
To fulfill its mission, the Board of Directors has a Council of Consultors to provide advise and counsel to the Board and to keep it wedded to its mission:
- to promote priestly unity and fraternity by facilitating communication among priests’ councils and associations;
- to provide a national forum for priests to discuss pastoral matters;
- to enable priests’ councils to speak with a common voice;
- to promote and collaborate on programs of pastoral research;
- to further the spiritual renewal of priestly life;
- to collaborate with national groups of laity and religious in ways that will promote the renewal of the Church in the United States;
- to collaborate with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in addressing the needs of priests in the United States;
- to encourage and assist priests’ councils to reflect on and promote justice in light of the social teachings of the Church;
- to participate in developing a national and a universal perspective of church and ministry.
3.2 Constitution and By – Laws
The Council of Consultors operates in accordance with its Constitution and By-Laws, which are reviewed periodically and updated as necessary to meet the needs of the organization. The current Constitution and By-Laws are included in Appendix B to this Handbook.
As stated in the By-Laws, the officers of the Federation shall consist of a chairman, a vice-chairman/vice-president, and a secretary–treasurer, each serving for a one-year term renewable for the length of their term on the Board of Directors. In addition to the specific responsibilities outlined below, the officers are responsible for the overall management of the Council of Consultors and the Board of Directors. It is their responsibility to assure that the committees operate in a sound, responsible manner. They will oversee the committees and any special task forces that exist to assure that they are providing a beneficial service to the Federation, and when necessary, shall develop a plan for Board approval to change the committee structure.
The Chairman is responsible for the following activities:
- Presiding over the Council of Consultors’ Meetings and ensuring integrity of the Council’s process
- Appointing the membership of the Council of Consultors’ Committees, in collaboration with the president
- Monitoring the progress of the committees to ensure that they are meeting their charge and operating within any budget constraints
- Scheduling Council of Consultors’ Meetings for the upcoming year in collaboration with the President
4.2 Vice-Chairman/Vice President
The vice-chairman/vice-president is responsible for the following activities:
- Attending Council of Consultors’ Meetings
- Presiding over the Council of Consultors’ Meeting in the absence of the Chairman
- Overseeing the Development and Implementation of the Strategic Plan
- Assuming the Presidency in case of death, illness, departure, or resignation of the President
- Serving as Master of Ceremonies for the annual convocation
The secretary-treasurer is responsible for the following activities:
- Attending Council of Consultors’ Meetings
- Maintaining a record of the proceedings from Council of Consultors’ Meetings
- Monitoring expenditures made on behalf of the NFPC
- Providing a financial and budget report to the House of Delegates at the annual convocation
The president is responsible for the following activities:
- Attending Council of Consultors’ Meetings
- Identifying the consultor for each province
- Conducting orientation of new consultors with the Board of Directors
- Serving as liaison and facilitating communication between the Council of Consultors and Board of Directors
- Seeking input from the Council of Consultors as to the issues affecting NFPC’s mission
- Relaying information to the Council of Consultors that can impact local presbyteral councils
Committee Structure & Descriptions
5.0 Committee Structure and Committee Descriptions
The NFPC Board of Directors and Council of Consultors currently consists of the following eight (8) committees:
- Administration and Finance Committee
- Programs and Publications Committee
- Convocation Committee
- Development Committee
- Research and Planning Committee
- Strategic Planning Committee
- Constitution Committee
- Nominating Committee
In addition to the standing committees, special committees and/or task forces may be created to address specific issues from time to time. Each member of the Council of Consultors serves on one or more committees, as assigned by the chairman of the Council of Consultors. Committee membership shall consist of at least one Board of Director Member, members of the Council of Consultors, and is open to others who can contribute to the issues under consideration by the committee. The standing committees of the Council of Consultors are intended to bring experience, expertise, and judgment of group to bear on specific areas of NFPC concern. They will assist the Board of Directors by considering matters in greater depth than possible by the Board of Directors, isolate key issues, propose alternatives, present implications, and make recommendations for Board decision. Once the Board is satisfied that all pertinent information has been considered, the Board will consider the recommendations and adopt or amend as deems advisable. The committees have an advisory function to the Board of Directors. Committee members rotate periodically, but to ensure consistency, not all committee members will change with each rotation. A description of each committee is provided.
5.1 Administration and Finance Committee
The committee shall review the financial statements of the NFPC, review the annual budget prepared by the NFPC Staff, and ensure that the Board of Directors is acting as a responsible steward of the material resources of the NFPC.
5.2 Programs and Publications Committee
This committee shall assist the national office in developing and sustaining programs and publications that assist NFPC in fulfilling its mission.
5.3 Convocation Committee
This committee shall propose sites and themes for future convocations. This committee will work with the president on all details of upcoming annual convocations.
5.4 Development Committee
This committee shall assist in coordinating the major fundraising endeavors of the NFPC and the presentation of opportunities for prospective donors and ambassadors to the NFPC.
5.5 Research and Planning Committee
This committee shall assist the National Office in planning and researching projects that fulfill the mission of NFPC, especially those recommended in its current strategic plan.
5.6 Strategic Planning Committee
This committee shall present a new strategic plan to the Board of Directors every five years. It shall also review and report to the Board of Directors the goals and milestones that have been or are being achieved based on the current plan.
5.7 Constitution Committee
The committee is responsible for presenting changes to the Constitution and/or By-Laws of the NFPC, committee structure, and/or other encompassing issues related to the Council of Consultors, the Board of Directors, or the House of Delegates.
Revisions to the constitution are generally implemented to:
- Increase the professional nature of the Federation
- Increase the level of accountability of the Board
- Promote high levels of integrity
5.8 Nominating Committee
The nominating committee assists the president with the orientation of new Council of Consultors’ members, identifies potential candidates for membership on the Board of Directors from the Council of Consultors, and identifies potential candidates for the job of president of the Federation.
5.9 Task Forces
In addition to committees, the Board of Directors may choose to organize task forces to conduct specialized, short-term studies.
5.10 Responsibilities of the Committee Chairs
A chair is appointed to lead the activities of each committee. In general, committee chairs serve the length of their term on the Board of Directors. In some instances, the chairman may ask a chair to assume the leadership of another committee based on gifts and talents.
The committee chairs are responsible for the following activities:
- Organizing and presiding over committee meetings
- Preparing a report of committee meetings for committee members
- Distributing information on committee activities and meetings to other committee members
- Reporting to the Council of Consultors and to the Board of Directors on committee activities
- Updating information on the committee for the Council of Consultors’ Handbook
5.11 Committee Meetings
It is impossible for standing committees to complete their tasks within the allotted time frame of our meetings. Equally, if membership on the committees extends beyond the Council of Consultors, the work of the committee continues outside the bi-annual gatherings. To facilitate dialogue among the members of the standing committees, members are invited to use NFPC’s telephone conference call system. This will facilitate conversation outside the Council of Consultors’ meetings.
For information on the Telephone Conference Call System please contact the business manager at the national office, 312-442-9700 extension 203.