LAY pastoral ministers in Australia will receive a new resource to support their crucial work in the “building up of the body of Christ for the sake of mission’.
Faithful Stewards for God’s Grace is a new document approved by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference to “affirm a common vocation for all the baptised faithful”.
The document includes a section on the theological and practical understanding of lay pastoral ministries, and a vision and pathway to co-responsibility between ordained and lay people.
There are also five key recommendations to support lay pastoral ministry in the future.
- To affirm and celebrate lay pastoral ministry
- To develop formal structures to support the work of lay pastoral ministers
- To encourage the Church to implement best practices in relation to lay pastoral ministers and volunteer workers
- To recommend that we need to strengthen formation training for lay pastoral ministers, and
- To build networks and share resources
Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, launched the new document at the 2018 Proclaim Conference being held in Brisbane.
“Lay pastoral ministry is entering into a new phase and that’s one of the things the bishops recognised in asking this document to be prepared,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“In the end it’s a recognition of the hour in a charismatic moment in the life of the church.”
That “charismatic moment” poses the question not of the administrative or bureaucratic tasks of the church but “what are the gifts that the spirit has given” and how can they be used to grow the Church.
“That’s the charismatic question that really does press upon people like me but for all of us in the Church,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“We all are baptised, and have received gifts of the spirit, for the building up the body of Christ.
“That’s what this document is all about.”
Ursuline Sister Kari Hatherell, who is the parish pastoral director of St John Wood’s – The Gap, said at the Proclaim Conference the new document was important for people who see lay pastoral ministries as a vocation.
“The document is an essential resource for all lay pastoral ministers in Australia and all those who work with them, in particular parish priests, pastors and deacons, as together people form parish teams of leadership,” Sr Hatherell said.
The document will also be a vital tool as the Church heads towards the Plenary Council in 2020.
“We believe that Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace is a vital tool as we move towards this Plenary Council,” Sr Hatherell said.
“It’s offering us a way of thinking about ministry in our parishes and in our dioceses in collaboration with ordained ministry.
“We believe it will add to the conversation greatly.”