Follow the laity: Zeni Fox on the future of lay ministry
Lay ministry is here to stay, says this theologian. But there are growing pains still to come.
When faced with the question “Who are the laity?” in the mid-19th century, John Henry Newman quipped, “Well, the church would look very foolish without them.”
Theologian and expert on lay ministry Zeni Fox describes laypeople as “the disciples of Jesus who share responsibility for the mission of the church.” Indeed, without the laity, who comprise more than 99 percent of the church, the church wouldn’t just look foolish, but its mission could not be realized.
Blast from the past? Lay ministry in the Catholic tradition
Zeni Fox says that calling lay Catholics to ministry has its roots in the early church.
Where in the tradition do we find lay ministry?
According to the New Testament there were various people—in addition to the Twelve—who exercised leadership in the early church. Paul mentions more than a hundred people by name associated with him and his ministry. But it gets fuzzy because the priesthood as we understand it now is not in the New Testament. The only place it is mentioned is Hebrews, and it’s Christ who’s the high priest.
Words of wisdom: Survival tips for working in the church
Find or be a mentor. Ministry associations are great, but informal groups work, too. “I’ve really found a lot of support in the older women who have paved the way for me,” says Tracy Rodenborn, a high school campus minister in Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, newbies can add an infusion of energy and idealism.
Femme fidele: How women who work for the church keep the faith
How women who work for the church keep the faith
It’s lunchtime at St. Clement Parish in Chicago, and although some of the city’s best restaurants are within walking distance, most of the staff members instead opt for microwaved leftovers and conversation with colleagues around the conference table. The building engineer and associate pastor stop by for a quick bite, but otherwise this makeshift lunchroom is Estrogen Central.
A large parish of 4,000 mostly middle- and upper-class families, St. Clement boasts 12 full-time, well-educated lay employees. Only two are men.
Survivor Stories: Seven lessons from the sex abuse crisis
For more than a decade, stories in the media have highlighted the problem of clergy sexual abuse of minors.
Much of the recent focus has been on Europe, though there have also been some particularly horrific new stories in this country, such as the one of Father Lawrence Murphy and his abuse of as many as 200 deaf boys in the residential school he ran in Wisconsin.
Most of these stories focus on the acts of offending priests and the fact that they were moved from parish to parish, ministry to ministry, continuing to allow them access to vulnerable children and youth.
Mass disruption: The new translations
The new translation of the liturgy will speak volumes about the church that prays it.
November 28, 2010, the First Sunday of Advent, marks the beginning not only of a new liturgical year but a countdown to "welcoming the new Roman Missal," as the U.S. bishops' website calls its preparation program for the new translation of the Mass. Over the coming year English-speaking Catholics around the country will relearn prayers they have long been able to recite or sing by heart.
Deacons' wives' tales
Dung Tran remembers attending the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress several years ago and being struck by a particular scene.
"The deacons would go into the sacristy and vest with the priests, but they would come out holding hands with their wives," he says. "There's obviously a big difference there between priests and deacons."
The church's "married clergy": 40 years of Deacons
The modern deacon has been around for 40 years—and some are still finding their place in the parish.
Beverly Hills, California deacon and author Eric Stoltz often finds himself uttering the phrase, "Please don't call me Father."
Besides that gentle correction to well-meaning parishioners, Stoltz also uses the first five minutes of new baptism classes he leads to explain to his captive audience what a permanent deacon like himself does.
The need for closure: What happens when a parish shuts its doors
Parishes should have an exit strategy before shutting their doors.
The day after their farewell Mass, parishioners of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church were locked out. Archdiocesan officials had changed the locks days ahead of schedule.
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