'The role of the lay pastoral minister as the one who accompanies other disciples, with mercy and patience.’ (Evangelii Gaudium 44)
In 2012, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference established the Australian Catholic Council for Lay Pastoral Ministry (ACCLPM) to foster collaboration amongst dioceses and to facilitate a national approach to aspects of pastoral ministry. The Council conducted a qualitative survey among Catholic dioceses in Australia to obtain a general understanding of the national landscape of lay pastoral ministry. This was followed by a more in-depth study, involving case studies from diverse pastoral settings across Australia by the Christian Research Association in 2015.
The first national resource for lay pastoral ministry, Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace was launched by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, at Proclaim 2018 in Brisbane.
The document affirms the common vocation of the lay faithful, rooted in the sacrament of Baptism, to participate in the ministry of Christ.1 It expresses a deep appreciation for the ‘unique and irrepeatable’ contribution of each member of the lay faithful, on behalf of and for the good of the whole body of the faithful.2 Within this common Christian vocation, Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace promotes the vocation of those lay people called to the pastoral ministry of service. The Australian Catholic Bishops support and encourage3 those who are called to serve Christ’s disciples in this way and acknowledge the theology of communion which underpins ministerial relationships of equality, mutuality and reciprocity.
Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace recognises the place of lay pastoral ministry within the common vocation of discipleship in relation to other forms of ministry. The vocations and ministries in the Catholic Church in Australia are diverse and complementary. The body of Bishops together with the Pope, priests, deacons, consecrated religious priests, brothers, sisters and lay people, work together in the Church and in the world.
Faithful Stewards of God’s Grace promotes and enables attitudes and practices of collegiality in order to best serve the pastoral needs of the Catholic Church in Australia.
Chapter one provides an overview of the development of lay pastoral ministry in Australia from 1788 to the present day. Chapter two seeks to identify the complexities involved in lay pastoral ministry. Chapter three seeks to understand the place of lay pastoral ministry within the common vocation of discipleship, and how it relates to other forms of ministry. Chapter four offers a practical description of lay pastoral ministry and outlines a process of authorisation, from certification to commissioning. Chapter five proposes recommendations that will enable a shared vision to be fulfilled in practice.
1 Vatican II Council. Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Collegeville, MN.: Liturgical Press; 1975. n.10.
2 Pope John Paul II. Christifideles Laici, The lay members of Christ's faithful people. Boston: Pauline Books & Media; 1988. n.20, n.28.
3 LG 20.