01 October 2018
A preferential option for the laity
Fr. Awi Mello: “We need to train laity for the urgent needs of our time, and for the needs of a Church that looks outwards towards society, the specific environment of the laity”
Three international associations led the concluding panel discussion on day three of the International Symposium: “Promotion and Formation of the Laity: best practices”, organised by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life from September 26th-28th 2018.
The involvement of associations and movements who which work directly with and for parishes had been particularly sought out in order to better discover the best practices for these settings.
It is important to make the laity aware that they “are called to evangelise first and foremost as believers who ‘live in the world’: disciples and missionaries who experience and give witness to their faith in all of the concrete dimensions of human existence” (Matteo Trufelli, President of Catholic Action in Italy, Secretariat of the International Forum of Catholic Action). In this association, formation is permanent, “accompanies all seasons of live in a variety of ways”, is integral, involving “all the dimension of a believer’s life and journey within the Church and in the world”.
The Parish Cells of Evangelisation take it as their goal to “renew the missionary identity of the lay faithful, and to awaken in Pastors a greater awareness of their own task of making of the parish an ardent community of faith, where all are actors in evangelisation”. Paola Marangione explained the workings of the ‘method’ of evangelisation in her own parish, Sant’Eustorgio in Milan., where small groups of lay faithful experience God’s love, and then share it with others who have not yet experienced it, in their own work ad study, and with friends, family and neighbours.
Juan Miguel Ortiz (Mexico), from Cursillos de Cristiandad presented this reality which stems from an encounter with God, and using courses of Christian formation as a means for experiencing this, sends people to sow the Gospel in their everyday environments.
Father Alexandre Awi Mello, Secretary of the Dicastery, drew some conclusions from this rich exchange, inviting those present to “copy creatively” from one another. He also expressed how much the Church places its hope in the lay faithful better understanding their identity and their mission in the Church and in society. This awareness “involves the hope of being recognised and valued: expressed not only in words but in real spaces of participation and accomplishment of what it means to be Christian”. Father Awi Mello challenged those present to ask their Bishops’ Conferences to take up a “preferential option for the laity”, “not something exclusive, but a preference, for the urgency of our times, and for the needs of a Church that looks outwards towards society, the specific environment of the laity”.