“It is part of our Vision that members of our Diocese should appreciate the need for change in the way that the Church lives and that they should be open to such change” (Put out into the Deep. Page 21)
Lay people, clergy and religious are called to work together and to support each other in ensuring that the Church carries out her mission. ‘This is the full meaning of collaborative ministry; not simply to renew the life of the Church, but to enable the Church to be part of transforming the world’ (Bishops’ Conference document ‘The Sign We Give’ page13).
The most visible sign of this has been the steady development of new roles, ministries and activities open to lay people. In looking forward to this development we also recognise with gratitude the many lay societies, groups and organisations which have supported the work of the Church in the past and continue to do so today. In our own Diocese a particularly fruitful expression of this collaboration has been seen in the work by lay people as Pastoral Assistants in a growing number of parishes:
‘It is our Vision that the true nature of collaborative ministry should be appreciated by every member of our Diocese and that support should be given to ensure the spirit of trust and commitment necessary for its future development’.
(Diocesan Vision Document page 9).
The role of Pastoral Assistant is a necessary one when parishes take seriously present pastoral needs as well as having a deep sense of urgency about the future life of its faith community.
Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the Bishops of England and Wales at their Ad Limina in January (Rome, 2010) clearly states the importance of the role of the lay faithful in the Church’s mission.
“Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission.”