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Priests and Laity Towards Koinonia

posted May 29, 2016, 10:17 PM by MOIC SMSC
(This article was published in the Lingganay, the seminary’s official publication, last November 2015. The contributor writes his experiences in the apostolate areas where the active help of the laity is very notable and how he makes sense of such involvement.)

When I was not yet a seminarian, I had this notion that when someone speaks about the Church the first thing that comes to my mind aside from the Church as a building is the Church hierarchy, the ordained and the consecrated ones, and the last persons in line are the lay faithful. The laity appears to me as passive recipients of the Church’s ministry. I don’t know about other seminarians’ experience, but I believe most of us, even just once in our life fell into this wrong notion about the laity. For this reason, during my first few months in the seminary, I felt so proud to have this “higher dignity” compared to the laity. When I conversed with the lay faithful in the parish where I belong to, I unconsciously start bragging about my little knowledge on Church doctrines and about my new identity as a seminarian. But all these ideas were proven wrong when I was sent to different parish exposures. The laity whom I consider to be just passive recipients of the Church’s ministry is, in reality, active collaborators in fulfilling our Church’s mission.

As I observe closely during my parish exposures, most especially in the pastoral weekend exposures, I realized that without the laity as active collaborators the parish will not be as vibrant as they are. The collaboration between clergy and laity is urged by our Church’s Magisterium. In Apostolicam Actuositate, we read: “As far as possible the laity ought to provide helpful collaboration for every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by their local parish.” It’s very obvious in every parish that in its physical set-up, in catechetical seminars, in liturgical activities and in the apostolate works the laity plays an active role. Figuratively, they are the auxiliary hands and feet to priests who are busy administering the sacraments in the parishes. These lay volunteers go to remote places to distribute communion to the sick persons. Some also offer themselves as catechists, sharing their basic knowledge about the Church’s teachings and even extending the threshold of their patience to the hyperactive children and youth of today’s generation. They don’t just spare their precious time; they even risk their lives for the sake of this undertaking. These are just few of the many endeavors they take as members of the Church.
Charles' fondness to basketball adds color to his preparation to the ministry.

Last summer I had a great experience as I joined the Mission for the first time in my life as a seminarian. The missionaries are divided into groups; each group is composed of priests, seminarians and some selected lay missionary volunteers from Bohol. The active collaboration was manifested when each one of us was given our own task that would be essential for the success of the group’s missionary work. Though it was really difficult and tiresome, it was also very inspiring knowing that the lay faithful are also doing their best for the fulfillment of our Church’s mission. Together with the priest companion of each group we endure the heat of the sun for several days as we do the house visitations. We celebrate the Eucharist everyday together with the people in the mission area. We assist in the process of offering free sacraments like baptism, confirmation and matrimony without payment provided that the recipients present to us the basic requirements for the said sacraments. The lay missionary volunteers serves as our mentors on basic things we need to do as neophyte in the Mission. Some lay faithful in the mission station were also there to ensure our safety.

I realize after the mission that we didn’t just participated in the mission of Christ, it also gave us a very good experience and knowledge on the situation of the faithful who lives distant from the center of the parishes. We may not be ordained or consecrated person but we can contribute something for our Church. Let us all remember the royal priesthood that is conferred in our baptism and sealed in our confirmation. Every individual talent that we have has a room in the Church and every effort that we take is useful in fulfilling God’s mission. As what they say, “For the Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate. No part of the structure of a living body is merely passive.” Each person who belongs to our Mother Church is a precious piece that makes up the whole picture of communion in continuing God’s Mission here on Earth.

SEM. CHARLES L. CUIZON (Chance Cuizon)
Theology II
Liloan, Cebu