Celebrating the Laity in the Church
The Catholic Church is made up of the shepherds and the Sheep of the Clergy and the Laity if you like. After the Second Vatican Council, the role of the laity in the Church has seen a lot of transformation. The lay people have seen their participation in the life of the Church grow from only responses during the celebration of the Sacraments (Passive) to taking part in key decision making bodies in the Church.
Many Religious Congregations including the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries, have incorporated a lay group in the religious families. The Arnoldus family has a group known as the Friends of SVD which is officially recognized and whose role is to boost the outreach of the Consecrated missionaries to the people of God.
The local Churches, i.e. the Dioceses have also amplified the participation of its laity in the life of the Church. The lay people under the leadership of the Pastoral Councils, play a very big role in the missionary life of the Church. Here in East Africa, the establishment of the Small Christian Communities by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), have given a new impetus to the Catholic Church in this part of the world.
Here in Tanzania, the Catholic Church is marking 50 years of the Council of the Laity. The celebrations began in the parish level in all the Dioceses and right now they are in the Deanery level. The Society of the Divine Word Missionary runs 3 parishes in the Arusha City Western Deanery which has 8 parishes. As part of these celebrations, a number of programmes have been going on which includes ball games, choir competition and Bible quiz.
So far our parishes have been doing well in these events given. The Bible quiz has especially depicted the Biblical dimension in our parishes.
With the advancement in education, lay people are now exposed to the Theological aspect of the mission of the Church and many are able to understand the grammar of the Church especially as defined by the Vatican Council. As the Church also experience a lot of turmoils in the wake of various scandals that have been exposed, an educated laity will play an important role to prevent these embarrassing accusations in the future.
We continue to laud our laity for their role in the mission of the Church to bring salvation to all creatures.
fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD.