(This document was created around 1964 for St. John Vianney Parish and transcribed by Ellen Turner in August, 2015 so the parish would not lose this history.)

Parish Manual: Chapter Four


  1. Background: During the Middle Ages the guilds especially in northern Europe and England were a flouring, powerful and worthwhile influence upon the lives and work of Christians. In fact it was really not until the Industrial Revolution that they passed from existence. In every guild there were two bonds of unity: a common faith and a common vocational activity ; in these lay their strength.
  1. Present Usefulness in Our Parish:   Previous pages in this Manual have roughly outlined the tremendous tasks waiting to be done in our own parish. There is absolutely no hope for accomplishing even a significant fraction of this work if it is to be left for our priest – or for the usual tiny but ever-faithful cadre of workers wo will always respond to the all of Christ . We must find, motivate, enlist and train a substantial percentage of parish membership to become “doers of the Word and not hearers only?”

It is already a proven fact that the organizations of the past do not manage this, for a complex of reasons The ideas behind the Guilds in St. John Vianney Parish are fundamentally these:

  1. Separate and break down our parish tasks and opportunities for Christian work into single units each assigned to a specific guild;
  2. Eliminate all possible non-essential organizational “excess baggage”, including meetings held only because one is scheduled in the By-Laws, and all fringe financing promotions;
  3. Concentrate every effort upon developing specific groups o parishioners to do a specific work that is needed and to which their specific talents can contribute, in company with other like-minded parishioners.
  4. Allow persons to move from one type of work to another (i.e. from one Guild to another) with a minimum of difficulty if they tire of a particular task, for example, Before changing each would be responsible for replacing himself.
  5. Meetings will be held almost solely to discuss the progress, problems and plans regarding the assigned task of the Guild There will be no dues and, as mentioned, no financial projects;
  6. Spiritual formation and social events will be arranged for separately from Guild work as such.
  7. Hopefully, the new parish organizational arrangement will tend toward a parish unity and parish-wide sense of responsibility, rather than a segmented view centered upon one club or society.

Thus it seems possible in our Parish Guilds to take advantage of the same sources of strength that formed and sustained the ancient guilds: a common faith, a common field of work; two basic grounds for unity.

III. Guild Establishment:   Our new parish structure calls for three parish-wide organizations grouped together under the Parish Council (please see Chart of organization): The Men of St. John, the Women of St. John and the Youth of St. John.. It is not contemplated that these will be “organizations” or “societies” in the customary sense, that is, there will be no regularly scheduled meetings, for example, for the Men of St. John; for full slate of officers; no dues.

Rather, the Men of St. John will be jut what those words imply: a joining together of every possible adult male in our parish, but in various Guilds which are really spiritual task forces devoted, each one, to a special work in the accomplishment of our Parish Mission as a part of the Church. With such a plan of action, it is our hope and intention that every Catholic man will find a specific Guild work that suits his talents and circumstances, and so an show himself a vital member of the Body of Christ, communicating Christ to his neighbors, his brothers.

The women and youth of St. John are fashioned in this same pattern.

One advantage of this method of organizing for action is that specific parish activities or tasks can be easily added to or removed form the list of Guilds as parish needs call for such action.

Flexibility is emphasized.

While there will be no full slate of officers for the Men, Women and Youth of St. John, nor the usual “baggage” of formal society (in order to minimize time, effort and money spent in ways that have not proved really useful), there will be a Chairman and Vice Chairman (or President and Vice President) of each group.

The principal work of the Chairman will be to coordinate the members of his or her particular group; to maintain an effective liaison with the Parish Council; to gather Guild members together for parish Spiritual Formation and social programs. It is hoped that in this way the necessary work may be accomplished without diversion or expenditure of parishioners valuable talents in ways that annoy and frustrate them.