October of 1997 the priests of the archdiocese of Los Angeles gathered
with the Archbishop and the five Regional Bishops to explore the nature
of the ordained priesthood in light of the challenges
faced in the Church today as well as the Church of the future.
Four specific needs were identified:
The need for the cultivation and
development of all ministries which are inherently rooted in the
priesthood of the baptized, regardless of the number of vocation to the
ordained priesthood now or in the future.
A greater and deeper collaboration and inclusivity in ministry between the ordained and the nonordained.
A clear understanding of the nature of lay ecclesial ministry by the baptized and the ordained.
A need for a common foundational theology
at all institutions of learning from the seminary to that available to
those in deaconate formation, religious formation or preparing for lay
ministry. This would also specifically include the development of more
collaborative skills in the ordained, “so that one and all can exercise
their ministry in a collaborative fashion.”
I was so impressed with the Neophytes and
the ministries they have chosen as their own that I thought I might
present to you in this column a commentary on the important pastoral
letter on ministry called “As I Have Done for You”, written in 2000 by
“Following the Second Vatican Council there
has been a rediscovery in Catholic theology of baptism as the
foundational sacrament of ministry, and a clearer recognition that
ministry is not just for the ordained. The Council related the baptismal
call, the ministry of the baptized, and the office of the ordained to
the mystery of Christ and found in each a reflection of the threefold
office of Christ as prophet, priest and king. Every vocation in the
Church and every ministry is rooted in the same reality of Christ and
his presence by the Spirit in the Church.
All ministry, be it the ministry of the
baptized or of the ordained, is to be understood in relation to the
community of the Church which expresses and receives its identity as the
Body of Christ in Word and Sacrament. All ministry is for the service
of the Church and the wider world, a participation in the ministry of
Christ the Servant who, after washing the feet of his disciples urges
them, and us, one and all: ‘As I have done for you, you should do
also.’” (John 13:15)
#48 — As I Have Done For You – by Cardinal Roger Mahony. (July 13, 2003)