The importance of permanent formation for all the baptized

Conclusion of the second day of the Conference, participants’ presentations and testimonies


On the second day of the Conference "Pastors and Lay Faithful Called to Go Forward Together", underway in the Vatican's New Synod Hall, the main theme was the importance of ongoing formation to accompany all the baptized to rediscover their vocation and charisms so that co-responsibility may become real.  The theme was developed in a dynamic and profound dialogue among all the participants, preceded by presentations and testimonies.

After the celebration of Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, presided by Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, Prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, the activities began with a presentation by Prof. Hosffman Ospino, who addressed the theme of the day from the perspective of the lay faithful: for an effective co-responsibility, an adequate formation of the laity is necessary. Card. Gérald Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, also addressed the need for a formation that helps to go forward together towards the Lord, and in particular to "rediscover the priesthood of the baptized so that all, Catholics, ordained ministers, and members of consecrated life can participate more effectively in the life of the Church".

Today's session focused on sharing experiences on formation in various pastoral areas. Shoy Thomas, from the international Jesus Youth movement, spoke about the formation of young people: "If formation plays an important role in the pastoral journey, equally important are the process of accompaniment, the presence of families who open their homes to young people and the freedom granted to make mistakes and learn from them, encouraging and supporting them, offering opportunities." Then, Benoît and Véronique Rabourdin from France's Emmanuel Community spoke about formation as a transformative act that gives missionary impetus to couples with other couples and families with other families. "There is no way to reach the hearts of others if we remain closed within ourselves. Formation also means raising one’s gaze, being able to see, and responding with compassion to so many needs," was how Andrea Poretti, an Argentinian from the Community of Sant'Egidio, expressed herself regarding the ongoing formation of all those who do social work. Finally, José Prado Flores, from Mexico, focused his testimony on the importance of the first proclamation of the mystery of Christ the Savior and Lord in order to start anew in the formation of the baptized who have drifted away from the Church. Through these voices expressed by various participants, an exchange of experiences and pastoral needs in the area of formation began.

The afternoon session opened with the continued sharing of experiences introduced by Card. Matteo Zuppi. The President of the Italian Bishops' Conference stressed that we need to begin to work on a profound formation of pastors so that they learn to move away from a paternalistic attitude, because "we all have to learn from a communion between ourselves, laity and pastors." Instead of fueling opposition between clergy and laity, we should seek ever better and more effective ways of collaboration and co-responsibility.

Then, Fr. Miguel Garrigós Domínguez, from Spain presented his experience of formation, as did Sônia Gomes de Oliveira, from Brazil, who spoke about projects related to marriage preparation and the experience of the "Year of the Laity" in Brazil.

In closing, in a moment of sharing and dialogue, H.E. Msgr. Richard Moth, of the English Bishops' Conference, and H.E. Msgr. Jean de Dieu Raoelison, of the Madagascar Bishops' Conference, further explored the topic of the formation of pastors in relation to the relationship with the laity: Msgr. Moth presented "Faith in politics," an experience of formation in politics for young people; Msgr. Raoelison presented the formation of catechists for the poorest areas of the country. In response to the desire of many others to share experiences and questions, Undersecretary Linda Ghisoni assured those present that dialogue - on behalf of the Dicastery - will certainly continue in ordinary relations with the particular Churches, and she encouraged those present to become multipliers of this exchange in their own local realities.

During the Conference, prayers were said together for the victims of the earthquake in Syria - as was done yesterday for the victims in Turkey. Finally, a visit to the Sistine Chapel concluded this second day of work, which will resume tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 18, with the long-awaited meeting with the Holy Father.


17 February 2023