28 September 2018

From the Americas to Asia and Beyond ... the Best Practices of the Catholic Laity

An intense day of listening and exchanging experiences of the formation of Christifideles throughout the world

Yesterday was an intense day of work at the international meeting on the promotion and formation of lay faithful organized by the Dicastery: the “best practices” of countries in North America and Latin America, Asia, Oceania, and Europe were presented. A wealth of gifts to be share, but also much to learn from the smallest and those with fewer resources. From Canada, where, alongside various educational institutions at the national level, including universities, there is great vitality in the local Churches. In the United States, together with traditional catechesis, many local associations are actively offering formation: lay people for the laity. In Mexico, ongoing formation is guaranteed on topical subjects that make it possible to give an account of one’s faith in different academic, political, and cultural circles. In Cuba, there are inter-diocesan meetings of laypeople, social weeks, and workshops of lay formation including three-year cycles of one week annually, as well as weeks of formation during the summer. In Peru, a school of reconciliation and forgiveness has been organized, in response to terrorism, to form new people. Laypeople are very involved in this.

In the Philippines, LAIKO, the operational branch of the country’s Bishops’ Conference, was created long ago for the coordination of the lay apostolate. It includes 55 national lay organizations and 57 diocesan councils. The presence of the basic ecclesial communities, guided by the laity, is also strong.

However, Australia stands out with its specific program of formation for young women, the “Leadership for Mission,” and the “Catholic Mission” which proposes programs for the integral formation that aims at making people missionaries of Jesus Christ.

In France, a two-year formation is offered on prayer, the Word of God, discernment, and mission, with the objective of creating a team of animators, while the net is used to provide open theological study courses. In Germany, on the other hand, the formation of the laity is organized at the diocesan level, and the possibility is also offered, in this context, to take online theology courses. One of the good practices, in Italy, is the Policoro project, aimed at forming young people through the study of social issues so that cooperatives, companies, and production activities may, then, be established.

In the afternoon, the meeting had a different focus. Two lay people involved in the world of information and entrepreneurship shared their experiences. The director of “Catholic Voices” in Chile, Maria Paz Lagos, spoke about her work with the organization, a network created in 2010 to make the Church’s voice heard in the media; and Ricardo Callejo Rovira, from Barcelona, spoke about the formation of the laity in the field of entrepreneurship and work.

During the day, moments of debate allowed the participants to intervene on everything they heard, creating a climate of sharing and an interesting exchange of opinions.

At the end of the day, Santiago Perez de Camino, head of the Dicastery’s office for the promotion and formation of lay people, described the path that led to this international meeting and the objectives for the near future.