My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
This year, as we celebrate the Year of Faith, we are reminded of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. One of the chief accomplishments of the Council was to clarify for the Church the position of the laity, the vast majority of the Church, and their responsibility for evangelization of the world. All the baptized participate in the universal priesthood of Jesus Christ by virtue of their baptism exercising the priesthood, engaging the saving work of Jesus Christ. Every individual becomes an apostle in his or her own right.
It is encouraging in our own Diocese of Brooklyn that lay ministry and lay leadership have made a fundamental impact on our parishes and the diocese as a whole. Were it not for the active support of those engaged in lay ministry, our Church would be all the poorer. The theme for Lay Ministry Sunday’s celebration this year are the words of Scripture, “Here I am, send me,” the words of the prophet of the Old Testament who recognizes that he is called by God.
And so too are our lay ministry volunteers called by Christ to show their dedication and to share their gifts of time, talent and treasure with all of their parish communities. The opportunities for lay ministries are innumerable. It is so important that people take their faith seriously by acting on how they must find their place in the Church. Everyone has something to contribute. There are those who have undergone specialized training in lay ministry, in our lay ministry program and others in other modalities. I have personally seen people come alive in their faith because they have undertaken a serious study of what their faith means and how they can put it into action. As we celebrate this Lay Ministry Sunday, we are encouraged to seek others who will take their faith more seriously and give of their time and talent to this effort.
There will be a Lay Ministry Sunday celebration at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills on Feb. 10, beginning at 4:30 p.m. This event will include Solemn Evening Vespers, celebrated by Bishop Frank Caggiano, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. In addition, there will be a talk by Robert McCarty, Executive Director of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry, who will speak about the state of lay ministry in light of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. It is my hope that many will attend this celebration, not only marking Lay Ministry Sunday but also calling forth in prayer for more volunteers.
Anyone who embarks on lay ministry does, indeed, put out into the deep. Recognizing the call from the Lord to serve more faithfully, especially during this Year of Faith, is a great gift from the Lord.