Lay apostolate in other countries

It’s perhaps important to note that the Church in many other countries has maintained the concept of “lay apostolate.” Indeed, there are many initiatives that could inspire us in Australia. Here are a few examples:

France: Diocesan Services for the Lay Apostolate

The Diocese of Lille in northern France is one of many which have a “Diocesan Service for the Lay Apostolate.” The Lille Service describes its role as follows:

The lay apostolate is the diocesan service for movements and associations of the faithful.

With the bishop’s delegate to movements and associations of the faithful (DEMAF), the apostolate of the laity supports the apostolic presence of movements and associations in the life of the diocese. It promotes links between movements, with diocesan services, parishes and deaneries. The lay apostolate invites the baptized to live their apostolate in the world and in the Church (cf. decree on the lay apostolate of Vatican Council II).

The Council of the Lay Apostolate brings together the leaders of the main movements (children and young people, Catholic action, social and professional life, spirituality, solidarity, family, health) to give themselves directions. The members of this council participate in the Diocesan Pastoral Council. The office animates the regular life of the lay apostolate. The delegates are at the service of this apostolic dynamic.

Read more: https://lille.catholique.fr/apostolat-des-laics/

French-speaking community Switzerland: Lay Apostolate Community

The “French-speaking Community for the Lay Apostolate” (CRAL) in Switzerland is an officially recognised association of lay groups and movements in French-speaking Switzerland. It describes its work as follows:

The French-speaking Community of the Lay Apostolate is a Catholic association, it brings together movements and lay groups which

  • in the light of the Gospel 
  • rooted in the Church
  • act in the heart of the world

The French-speaking Community of the Lay Apostolate is

  • a place of gathering of Catholic lay movements
  • a place of friendship and prayer
  • a place of exchange and initiatives

CRAL cooperates with

  • Conference of Swiss Bishops (CES)
  • the Conference of Swiss Romand Ordinaries (COR)
  • the Swiss Coordinating Committee for the Apostolate of the Laity
  • the European Forum of the Laity
  • Lenten Campaign

Read more: https://www.lacral.ch/bureau-cral/qui-sommes-nous.html

Spain: Lay Apostolate Days/Week

On 23-24 October, for example, Spain, held its “Jornadas de Apostolado seglar,” i.e. “Lay Apostolate Days” in Madrid.

This included the “62nd National Congress of Delegates and Leaders of Lay Apostolate Movements and Associations.” Interestingly, this year’s theme focused on synodality.

Read more here: https://www.conferenciaepiscopal.es/jornadas-de-apostolado-seglar-2021/ (Spanish)

Latin America

Paraguay

The Church in Paraguay has just launched its Year of the Laity. As a statement from the Paraguayan Bishops Conference explains:

This pastoral initiative is an opportunity to address the great issues of national and ecclesiastical reality and to take actions that allow for personal conversion and social change by strengthening what is already being done in the dioceses of the country.

Read more about that initiative here: https://australiancardijninstitute.org/paraguay-launches-year-of-laity/

Africa

Rwanda

The Diocese of Ruhengeri has a well-structured “Diocesan Commission for the Lay Apostolate.”

The main responsibilities of the commission are:

  • Coordinate Catholic Action Movements (MAC), Prayer Groups (GP), Christian Associations (AC) and New Ecclesial Movements (NME), for better overall pastoral care;
  • Ensure the coordination of all movements of Catholic action;
  • To help and promote the insertion of CAMs and new ecclesial and spiritual movements in the effective pastoral care of Basic Ecclesial communities;
  • Ensure strict compliance with Canon Law by all of the provisions of the Code of Canon Law by all MACs, CAs, GPs and NMEs, while respecting the statutes and Internal Regulations which they are endowed with. the formal agreement of the Diocese.
  • Prepare formation programs that meet the needs of the laity
  • To bring the laity to become aware of the Christian scope of their activity in the world;
  • To stimulate the structures of animation in the vital centers where men strive to achieve their progress and their true humanization;
  • Follow restructuring programs and revitalize basic ecclesial communities;
  • Prepare files on the great witnesses of the faith;
  • Create commissions for the safeguard of Rwandan culture and harmonize culture and development;
  • Organize inter-parish visits;
  • Make the laity aware of the economic life of their parishes and integrate them into their management
  • To rule on coordination problems posed by lay movements.

Read more: https://www.dioceseruhengeri.org/?commissions-diocesaines/apostolat-des-laics

And at national level, there is also an “Episcopal Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity and the Apostolate of Intellectuals.”

Its tasks are:

  • Animate and support the laity so that they participate in the life and mission of the Church,
  • Promote, supervise and follow the evolution of lay associations such as Movements of Action Catholics, New Ecclesial Movements and other specific groups so that their members fulfill their duty to imbue the evangelical spirit with the order of temporal realities,
  • Foster the cooperation of the laity in catechetical formation, liturgical and sacramental life, works of mercy, charity, social promotion, and economic and financial development,
  • Follow and lead national and supranational meetings as well as other events relating to the apostolate of the laity.

Asia

South Korea

In South Korea, we find that there is a “Catholic Lay Apostolate Council of Korea.”

Its activities include an annual “Laity Sunday.” 

And its main activities are described as follows:

  • The exchange of information and the reinforcement of relationship among its members.
  • Collecting research materials about Lay Apostolate and the research of them.
  • Preparing the homily materials for Laity Sunday and the distribution of it.
  • The cooperation for the reeducation of the laity
  • The research for methods for evangelization of the Korean people, programming of mission work, suggestions and publications.
  • Mutual exchange with other international associations and organizations of Lay Apostolate

Read more: http://clak.or.kr/common/english.php

These are just a few examples. But they suffice to show that the Vatican II conception of “lay apostolate” is indeed alive in many parts of the world.

Perhaps, it’s Australia that is among the exceptions.

Stefan Gigacz

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