The Bishop of Ho Diocese, Emmanuel Kofi Fianu, SVD, has reminded the laity in Ghana that they were not passive objects of the Church and recipients of the pastoral care of the Clergy but active and unique participants in the Church’s inner life and mystery. The Bishop said the laity were sharers in the apostolic mission of the Church to the secular world.
He said there was the need to emphasise that the participation of the laity in the pastoral ministry of the Church should not only be seen in terms of standing side-by-side with priests at the Sanctuary or doing what the priest does.
Speaking in a Keynote Address at the opening of the 39th Plenary Assembly of the National Catholic Laity Council (NCLC) at Bibiani in the Wiawso Diocese last week, the Bishop told the lay faithful of Ghana to endeavour to discover and nurture their proper functions, service and ministry in the Church. This, the Bishop said, would make their work an authentic and unique one.
The Plenary on the theme, "Do This in Memory of Me: The Eucharist as the Foundation for the Participation of The laity in the Pastoral Care Ministry of the Church," was attended by over 200 delegates from all the dioceses in Ghana
Bishop Fianu, who is the Episcopal Chair for Laity, Women and Youth, said the lay faithful could participate in the pastoral ministry of the Church by breaking-up cliques that lead activities in parishes and by opening up to newcomers who want to contribute to the life of a parish.
He lamented that, “At times we have the same people serving on some Parish and Diocesan Committees for ages as if there are no other people.” He added that “we should not be afraid of change because change refreshes our groups and brings new ideas for greater developments.”
Bishop Fianu said, “We need to acknowledge that the lay faithful of today is composed of well-educated, intelligent, highly competent and intensely questioning men and women. It goes without saying that with the renewed understanding of the Church as people of God, the Church today is no longer faced with the question of what to do with educated laity who have left the Church.”
The Bishop noted that the Church must now face the question of the intelligent lay faithful who are very much a part of the Church and want to deepen their commitment to her life and mission.
He stressed that it was important to emphasise that all the faithful of Christ were called to the fullness of the Christian life and perfection of charity. Hence they were called to share in a ministry that was fully theirs.
On his part, Bishop-Elect Gabriel Kumordji of Keta-Aktasi, who is also Episcopal Chair for the Laity, urged the laity of Ghana to form a united front to play their respective roles as demanded by the Church through effectively involving themselves in activities of the Church for the growth and development of the Church.
He lamented that the formation of the lay faithful was diminishing, thus appealing to priests to let their laity know their roles and give them the opportunity to play their prophetic role.
(Damian Avevor, Bibiani in Ghana)