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Laity ‘called and sent’

ROME (Zenit.org): There are great needs in the Church and in society, which laypersons in collaboration with their pastors, can satisfy, the director of a centre in Rome said.

Director of the Lay Centre Donna Orsuto affirmed this when she spoke to ZENIT about a conference that the centre collaborated in organising.

“Collaborators in the Lord’s Vineyard: Called to Communion, Called to Mission,” was held in Rome at the end of June, and brought together lay faithful of several dioceses of the United States to address the specific tasks of the laity in the Church.

The United States bishops’ Secretariat for the Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth collaborated in sponsoring the conference, which focused on a document from that episcopal conference also called “Collaborators in the Lord’s Vineyard”.

Following a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Cardinal John Patrick Foley, the participants heard in the first session how “communion and mission” were the foundations to understand and carry out their lay ecclesial ministry.

Executive director of the secretariat Rick McCord later told ZENIT about “lay ecclesial ministries”, or the participation of lay men and women in the life of the Church.

Ecclesial ministries, which in the United States alone involves 30,000 people, have four characteristics, Mr McCord said: the individual has a leadership role, for example, catechetical or pastoral work; he or she is authorised by the pastor to exercise the role; the lay minister works in “collaboration with priests, deacons and bishops”; and has the “formation and education to carry out his or her role”.

For her part, Ms Orsuto told ZENIT that “everyone is called and sent”.

Hence, “it is important to help people recognise where their gifts lie and how they can use them to build the local Church”, she said, adding that “there is great need in the Church and in society that the laity, in collaboration with their pastors”, can satisfy.

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