Parafia p.w. Narodzenia Najswietszej Maryi Panny
St. Mary’s Polish Parish



Statut Organizacyjny / By-laws

As ratified on October 28, 2012


WHEREAS the Mission of St. Mary’s Polish Parish is to be a model community of faith, a devout, participatory Roman Catholic parish, welcoming to all, and a beacon of hope and generosity. Polish heritage, traditions, culture, and language are integral to our spiritual experience. In all we do, we strive for holiness, dignity, justice, and excellence.

AND WHEREAS St. Mary’s Polish Parish is committed to functioning in accordance with Canon Law and diocesan policies;

AND WHEREAS the Rada (Pastoral Council) shall operate within the framework of the diocesan policy statement on pastoral councils, included here as Appendix 1;


1.1       The name of the Pastoral Council of St. Mary’s Polish Parish shall be “Rada Parafialna,” hereinafter referred to as “Rada.”


2.1       Functioning in accordance with Canon Law and the policies of the Diocese of Antigonish, the Rada is the primary consultative body for the laity in the Parish, a body whose advice shall be sought prior to significant decisions affecting the Parish. Moreover, it shall have the following objects (a-k are extracted from Diocese of Antigonish, Parish Pastoral Guidelines, 2000):
a) To identify the needs of the Parish community and the wider community;
b) To identify ways the Parish can respond to these needs;
c) To develop the Parish mission statement;
d) To develop a plan to carry out the mission;
e) To ensure the implementation of the plan [including] periodic evaluation;
f)  To coordinate the various groups, committees, and activities related to the life of the Parish community;
g) To search out and empower the gifts of community members;
h) To promote diocesan needs and priorities;
i)  To ecourage a network of communication with the Parish and surrounding community;
j)  To serve as a forum for dialogue among parishioners, Pastor, staff, neighbourhood groups, and neighbouring churches.
k) To review and recommend the Parish budget to the Pastor (which shall normally have been prepared by the Finance Committee in consultation with the Pastor);
l)  To maintain Polish Roman Catholic traditions and to assist the Pastor in maintaining a strong devotional life characteristic of Polish churches around the world;
m)To assist in transmitting the faith and rich traditions from generation to generation;
n)  To review, from time to time, Parish policies and protocols.


3.1       The Rada should consist of eight members of the Parish, but shall consist of not more than eight, elected at large, in addition to the Pastor, who shall be the ex officio President. The Pastor is also Chief Administrator of the Parish.

3.2       In the first year after the coming into force of these By-laws, four Rada members shall be elected to a one-year term and four Rada members shall be elected to a two-year term. Terms of office shall thereafter be two years.

3.3       Newly elected Rada members shall normally hold office commencing within two weeks of an Annual General Meeting of the Parish.

3.4       Rada members shall be parishioners in good standing as confirmed by the Pastor. Should a Rada member cease to be a parishioner in good standing, the seat occupied by the said member shall be declared vacant.

3.5       Members of the Rada must be 16 years of age or older.

3.6       A member who misses three consecutive meetings without being excused by a resolution of the Rada shall cease to be a Rada member. This provision does not apply to the Pastor, whose attendance is voluntary and dependent on his availability.

3.7       Not more than two members of the same immediate family shall be eligible to hold office as a Rada member at the same time. An immediate family member is defined as a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.

3.8       No member of the Rada may serve for more than two consecutive terms. The Pastor, as ex officio President, is a permanent member.

3.9       In the event that an elected member of the Rada tenders his or her resignation before the expiry of his or her term of office, the Rada shall appoint a parishioner in good standing to serve for the balance of the unexpired term.

3.10    It shall be customary for newly elected and re-elected Rada members to receive a special blessing at a Mass shortly after an election. 


4.1       An Annual General Meeting of parishioners in good standing shall normally be held following Easter Sunday but before the third Monday in June, except in 2013 when it shall be held on January 27 (unless postponed due to weather). An Annual General Meeting shall have on its agenda a report from the Rada, including a synopsis of the spiritual and community activities of the parish, a report from the Finance Committee, including the presentation of financial statements for information, a report from the Nominating Committee, elections, and other business as the Rada may from time to time inscribe on the agenda.

4.2       By the end of February in 2014 and by the end of February in every subsequent year, the Rada shall announce the date in the Parish Bulletin of the Annual General Meeting for that year.


5.1       There shall be a Nominating Committee consisting of a minimum of three parishioners who are not eligible or not intending to stand for election to the Rada.

5.2       The Nominating Committee shall be appointed by the Rada, normally in January of every year, and may include members of the Rada whose terms of office do not expire at the end of the current year.

5.3       The Nominating Committee shall actively solicit nominations and ensure that there is at least one qualified candidate for every seat to be elected, normally four per year. In recruiting nominees, the Nominating Committee shall have regard to ensuring a Rada that consists of women and men of strong faith in the parish who, collectively, bring a range of experience and skillsets, are representative of different generations, and are apt to carry out their duties with good judgment, dignity, discernment, and through constructive problem solving. Nominees should have knowledge of and appreciation for the cultural heritage of the Parish.

5.4       Prior to each Annual General Meeting, the Nominating Committee shall organize a short retreat or workshop to familiarize candidates, especially non-incumbent candidates, with the objectives and duties of the Rada. This retreat or workshop shall be publicized in the parish bulletin and be open to all parishioners who may have confirmed or who may be considering a candidacy.

5.5       The Nominating Committee shall publish in the Parish Bulletin a list of its nominees two weeks prior to the scheduled date of an Annual General Meeting. The Nominating Committee shall also at this time post on the parish bulletin board a list of all parishioners and therefore persons entitled to vote. Parishioners shall have five days to propose corrections to this list in writing to the Pastor and to the Chair of the Nominating Committee. A final list shall be posted on the parish bulletin board not less than seven days before the Annual General Meeting.

5.6       Persons not nominated by the Nominating Committee may be nominated in writing to the Pastor by a minimum of three parishioners in good standing. Such nominations must be submitted not less than 10 days prior to the scheduled Annual General Meeting, after which no further nominations shall be permitted, and must be published in the Parish Bulletin one week prior to the Annual General Meeting.

5.7       In the event that the number of candidates is the same as the number of seats eligible to be filled, the candidates so nominated shall be declared at the Annual General Meeting to be elected by acclamation. In the event that the number of candidates is greater than the number of seats eligible to be filled, an election by secret ballot shall take place, with each parishioner entitled to vote for up to four candidates, except in the first year after the coming into force of these By-laws, when a voter shall be entitled to vote for up to eight candidates.

5.8       The ballots shall be counted by the Pastor or designate and by a parishioner in good standing whose name does not appear on the ballot.

5.9       The elected candidates shall be announced in alphabetical order by surname, and the number of votes per candidate shall be confidential.


6.1       The Rada Executive Officers, with the exception of the Pastor who shall be an Executive Officer in all instances, shall be elected by and from among members of the Rada at the Rada’s first meeting following the Annual General Meeting. Elections may be held more frequently in the event of unanticipated vacancies.

6.2       The Rada Executive Officers shall consist of:
a)  The Pastor as ex officio President
b)  Chairperson
c)   Vice Chairperson
d)   Secretary

6.3       The Chairperson shall chair all Rada meetings and shall be the chief spokesperson of the Rada. The Chairperson shall sign all Rada Minutes that have been adopted by the Rada and see that Rada records are maintained by the Secretary.

6.4       The Vice Chairperson shall fulfill the duties of Chairperson in the absence of the Chairperson or when so requested by the Chairperson.

6.5       The Secretary shall record the Minutes of all meetings and receive and log all Rada correspondence.


7.1       Each meeting of the Rada and all committees of the Rada shall be opened and closed with a prayer, and meetings shall be conducted in a prayerful and reflective manner, open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

7.2       Regular monthly meetings of the Rada shall normally be held on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. and shall be open to all parishioners to attend as observers. The regular Rada meetings shall be held on the parish premises. The Rada may also establish a policy or protocol to permit deputations or presentations from parishioners. The time of the regular monthly meetings may be changed by a motion of the Rada, approved by the Pastor. Such a change shall be announced in the Parish Bulletin.

7.3       Meetings of the Rada shall not be longer than 90 minutes in duration, unless the Rada, by resolution, decides to extend a meeting.

7.4       Additional meetings may be called at the request of the Chairperson or by a majority of the Rada members.

7.5       A quorum shall be required to hold a meeting of the Rada. A quorum shall consist of any four members of the Rada.

7.6       The Rada shall strive to achieve consensus on the questions before it, but in the final instance a simple majority is required to approve any motion. The Chairperson shall not vote in the first instance, but may cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie.

7.7       The Polish and English languages are the working languages of the Rada and may be used in its deliberations, although it is not required that each member of the Rada be fluently bilingual in the Polish and English languages.


8.1       The Rada may designate standing and ad hoc committees to assist in the organizational life of the parish.

8.2      The committees shall report to the Rada and shall submit an annual report to be included in the Rada’s report to the Parish at the Annual General Meeting.

8.3       Each committee shall have terms of reference developed by the Rada. The terms of reference shall describe the functions of the committee, the method of selection of a Chair, the benchmarks if any, and the frequency of reporting to the Rada.

8.4       The terms of reference and membership of every committee shall be reviewed by the Rada within two months of every Annual General Meeting.

8.5       The members of the committees shall be named by the Rada, subject to confirmation by the Pastor. The Rada shall from time to time issue general calls for volunteers to serve on committees.

8.6       All committee members shall receive a handbook, with these by-laws, relevant diocesan policies, the terms of reference of their respective committees, as well as any statements or guidelines from the Pastor, in consultation with the Rada, on the effective operations of committees.

8.7       Notwithstanding the foregoing, pursuant to Canon 537, one of the standing committees must be a Finance Committee, consisting of “a minimum of three ordinarily not exceeding seven parishioners who are knowledgeable and interested in administration and finance. The members are chosen by the Parish Priest and Parish Council” (extracted from Diocese of Antigonish, Parish Finance Committee Policy).

8.8       The Finance Committee shall report to the Pastor and to the Rada. The Rada shall designate one of its members to serve as Chair of the Finance Committee (as per Membership, Point 3, in the aforementioned diocesan policy), subject to confirmation by the Pastor, and nominate the other members, subject to confirmation by the Pastor.

The Finance Committee shall:
a) Recommend to the Rada an annual budget (which in turn recommends a budget to the Pastor) – and any amendments to that budget from time to time.
b) Present quarterly financial updates to the Rada and whenever requested by the Pastor.
c) Present an annual financial statement to the Parish, ensuring financial transparency.
d) Advise on impending and long-term capital expenditures, and other matters with respect to the administration of the temporal goods and property of the Parish, and seek appropriate approvals as per diocesan policies. Additional estimates shall be obtained for proposed renovations or capital expenditures exceeding $1,000. In the event that it is not practicable to obtain additional estimates, the committee shall document attempts to obtain same or other extenuating factors (eg. no other available suppliers).
e) Be consulted on acts of “extraordinary administration,” as per Canon Law and diocesan policies.
e) Oversee the execution of approved property improvements.
f) Designate signing officers, which must include the Pastor, and carry out the recording and expeditious deposit of collections and donations, ensuring appropriate verification and adherence to all controls required by diocesan and parish policies.

8.9      The Rada shall designate, subject to confirmation by the Pastor, an Editor and Alternate Editor for the Parish Bulletin. The Bulletin shall normally be issued weekly and shall provide a sound overview of the spiritual and community life of the Parish. The Bulletin shall normally also include news from the diocese and the Universal Church. Although it is not required that each Bulletin entry be in two languages, each Bulletin shall normally have some contents that are in both the Polish and English languages.


9.1       The Rada shall name up to five respected senior parishioners who are not members of the Rada or a committee reporting to the Rada to an Advisory Council of Elders (Komisja Starszych), whose appointments are subject to confirmation by the Pastor. These persons shall be esteemed for their spiritual faith, good judgment, objectivity, dignity, wisdom, and appreciation of the Parish’s cultural identity and traditions.

9.2       The Council of Elders will be formally called into service by the Rada on an occasional basis to provide wise counsel on matters of unusual gravity or difficulty, or to assist in the mediation of serious disputes or disagreements.

9.3       The term of office of a member of the Council of Elders shall be four years (renewable).


10.1    Where a member or one of his or her immediate relatives has a financial interest in a matter before the Rada or a committee, as the case may be, that member shall declare the interest and recuse himself or herself from discussion or voting.


11.1    Amendments to these By-laws may be introduced by a member of the Rada as a Notice of Motion at the Rada.

11.2    The Notice of Motion referred to in 11.1 must be introduced at a regular monthly meeting of the Rada by a member and moved by the same member at the next regular monthly meeting.

11.3    If endorsed by a majority of the members of the Rada present and voting, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the Pastor to determine if the said amendment conforms with Canon Law and diocesan policies. If so confirmed, it shall be presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Parish with a recommendation for ratification. Ratification at an Annual General Meeting requires a two-thirds majority of the parishioners present and voting.

11.4    In addition to an Annual General Meeting, the Rada may convene a Special General Meeting of parishioners to consider and ratify proposed amendments to these By-laws. Such a Special General Meeting of the Parish shall require not less than two weeks’ notice in the Parish Bulletin and the inclusion of the Notice of Motion.


12.1    These By-laws shall come into force once endorsed by the Pastor and by not less than a two-thirds majority of parishioners present and voting at a Special General Meeting of the parish.

12.2    The Interim Finance Committee, which was constituted following the call for volunteers on August 12, 2012, shall continue in office until the first Annual General Meeting, to be held on Sunday, January 27, 2013 (which will follow the end of the current fiscal year), unless postponed by one week due to weather conditions.

12.3    During the period of transition following the coming into force of these By-laws, where correspondence or duties would normally be assigned to a Pastoral Council, the same correspondence or duties shall be assumed, on an interim basis, by the present Parish Planning Team.

12.4    The Ad hoc Committee on Parish Statutes and Policies shall act as the first Nominating Committee, with the exception of those of its members who may be considering standing as candidates for the Rada.

APPENDIX 1 – Diocesan Policy Statement

Role and Function of the Parish Pastoral Councils

Canon Law provides for the formation of Parish Pastoral Councils in Canon 536 #1.

"In every parish of the diocese, a Pastoral Council shall be established, if the diocesan Bishop, after consulting with the Council of Presbyters, so decides.  The pastor presides over the Pastoral Council.  The Pastoral Council is composed of members of the congregation together with those of the parish staff who have pastoral care by reason of their office.  The Pastoral Council assists in promoting pastoral action in the parish."

What constitutes parish staff will vary from parish to parish.  Pastoral Team members are those who are involved in the day-to-day ministry of the parish.  They may be full time, part time, or volunteers.  The Pastoral Team generally has its own unique relationship with the pastor as it endeavours to carry out its responsibilities and ministry within the parish.

Pastoral Team members may be invited to attend some pastoral council meetings when their expertise or training may be of assistance to the council.  It is recommended that where applicable an assistant pastor, by virtue of office, be a member of the council.  Other ex officio members may be included at the discretion of the pastor.  However, their presence should not dominate council meetings or stifle the voice of the general membership.

The Parish Pastoral Council is a consultative body, pastoral in nature, because it strives to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit among God's people in the parish.  A Parish Pastoral Council gives its help to the pastor in fostering pastoral activity; it investigates, under the authority of the pastor, all those things which pertain to pastoral works to ponder them, and to propose practical conclusions about them.  It is essential that Council meetings occur in the context of prayer and openness to the Holy Spirit, so that at all times the common good will prevail.

Specifically, the Parish Pastoral Council's purpose is to enhance the process of:

  • pastoral planning
  • developing pastoral programs
  • improving pastoral services
  • evaluating the pastoral effectiveness of various programs and services

Although the Council is not a body which makes binding decisions, the recommendations of the Pastoral Council are to be taken seriously when grounded in prayer, discernment and communal wisdom. The pastor presides over the Parish Pastoral Council.  The pastor is responsible for the final approval of Council recommendations concerning pastoral planning, programs, and services for the parish, as well as for their implementation.  While the pastor is not obliged to follow the recommendations of the Parish Pastoral Council, it is understood that he ought to do so unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.  If there is such a reason, the pastor should share this with the Council.