Lay ministry is rediscovery - Catholic Courier

Lay ministry is rediscovery

To the editor:

A July Catholic Courier article asserts that “lay ministry is a relatively recent development in church history,” fueled by the Second Vatican Council. This is both misleading and historically inaccurate.

In the early church, Jesus was remembered and celebrated by small communities of Jewish believers. The “Lord’s Supper” was joined with a regular meal in believers’ homes. There was no hierarchy as we know it, and therefore no meaningful distinction between laity and church authority. Particularly in the diverse churches founded by Paul, it was believed that the Spirit organized and presided. Believers — men and women alike — served the community according to widely distributed charisms, expressing the Spirit in ministries such as teaching, prophecy, caring for the sick and poor, healing, administration, etc.

Over many decades, as the movement grew and diversified, a hierarchical structure began to evolve, eventually crystallizing in the second century around the roles of bishop, presbyter, and deacon. Over the centuries, the hierarchy then consolidated power and ministries unto itself, leaving the “laity” on the outside, looking in. Contrary to popular belief, the jurisdictional authority of the bishop of Rome over the western Church evolved even more slowly, taking more than 1,000 years to become a reality.

Yes, Vatican II reminded us of our roots as a people of God, and as a universal priesthood of believers. But lay ministry is not a “recent development” at all; rather, it is a rediscovery and reaffirmation of our authentic Christian origins!

John Boroski

Old Winding Lane


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