Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Hour of the Laity - Formation on the Vocation of the Laity

Saturday, April 10 (Seremban) -- After the Second Vatican Council, there often seems to have been confusion among clergy, religious and laity in the Church on what the differences are in their vocations. As a result, we witness today unprecedented movements in the Church towards the gradual laicisation of the clergy and the clericalisation of the laity. A proper understanding of the roles of clergy, religious and laity needs to be restored. This need has become particularly pronounced among the laity as the lay faithful have been given more prominent emphasis in the Church since Vatican II.

In conjunction with the Year of the Priest, the Parish Pastoral Council of Visitation invited Dr. Sherman Kuek to speak on the role of the laity in exercising their common baptismal priesthood. The purpose of this formation is to help the lay faithful understand their role as collaborators of the ministerial (ordained) priesthood and share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ in the world. Dr. Kuek, being himself a married layperson and a theologian, shared with the participants as to how families, married couples, parents, single people, young people, lay leaders can live out their lay vocation and the roles and responsibilities proper to their vocation.

In the defining what it means to be 'laity,' Dr. Kuek outline the parameters set by church documents. In the negative, laity means "all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in consecrated life." However, the crux of the various sessions was outlining and then expounding what the laity 'are' in a positive way. The common priesthood of the laity is ultimately defined by the Sacraments of Initiation, namely that every baptised person is inserted and incorporated into the Body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation. Through incorporation into Christ at baptism, the laity share in His threeold office as prophet, priest and king.

In the various sessions, Dr. Kuek then expounded on the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of the laity and highlighted how these were distinctively (ontologically) different from that of the ordained or ministerial priesthood. He constantly challenged the participants to see their mission as laity as being situated in the World. Acting as a kind of a leaven, the laity are called to "seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to God's will" (Lumen Gentium 31), that is to say, according to justice and charity, thereby cooperating with Christ in his saving, healing and transfiguring work.

Dr. Kuek is presently the director of the Pastoral Institute of Melaka Johor Diocese. He had also served in the Church of Visitation as Pastoral Associate for Formation and Youth Ministry. He blogs on

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