Vocation in the Instrumentum Laboris

The IL contains one beautiful reference to the vocation of the “majority of Christians’, which “will be lived out primarily in the context of their family life, their workplace and their engagement with their culture and society. In this way Christians respond to the Lord’s call to be ‘the salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world’.“

But why doesn’t it call this “majority of Christians” by their name, which is “lay people”?

Moreover, why is buried in §126 in a section entitled “The Call to Co-Responsibility in the Church”

There are two references to the vocation to marriage and parenting. But what about lay people who are not married? Do they not have a vocation?

Yet whereas Apostolicam Actuositatem devotes Chapter I to “The Vocation of the Laity to the Apostolate,” there is little sense in the IL of lay people having a specific vocation of their own.

There are references to the vocations of priests and religious.

Most references, however, are to the vocation of the Church

  • Vocation to communion
  • Vocation as a healer of humanity


We know that the Church was founded by Christ and that our vocation is to be the sacrament of communion with God and of unity among all people.


Vocations to priesthood, religious life and marriage have declined, and fewer Catholics receive the sacraments. For many families, sacraments are only cultural milestones, rather than a key element in the faith journey leading to discipleship and active participation in the Catholic community.


New ecclesial movements and communities have helped many faithful to rediscover the beauty of the Christian vocation.


There is a crucial need, therefore, for vocational discernment and ongoing formation, particularly in key areas of Catholic belief, sacraments, the Church and Christian living.


The Second Vatican Council highlighted the centrality of Jesus Christ in human existence and in all creation. In opening to us the mystery of the Father’s love, Christ reveals humanity to itself and makes clear our noble vocation.


This vocation to communion, the sharing of life and love among humans and with God, is a reflection of the Triune divine mystery, “the source and inspiration of all Christian relationships and every form of Christian community”.74 The Church is both “gift and mystery” of divine-human communion.


An expression of this vocation to communion is the synodality which is “a constitutive element of the Church”.


This desire for a pastoral conversion within the Church is echoed in many submissions from the People of God in Australia to the Plenary Council. These submissions invite the delegates of the Council to identify ways in which the Church in Australia can live out this mission anew, centred in Christ whom the gospels present as the great healer of the wounds of humanity. This, too, must be the Church’s vocation in our day.


As a chosen race and a royal priesthood, the whole People of God is called to place itself at the service of the life of the world, just as Christ the priest offered himself for the life of the world. For the vast majority of Christians, this vocation will be lived out primarily in the context of their family life, their workplace and their engagement with their culture and society. In this way Christians respond to the Lord’s call to be “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt 5:13-16).

For a growing number of Christians, this vocation will also be lived out through a more focussed engagement with the ‘internal’ life of the Church. The greater sharing of responsibility and the greater collaboration between the clergy and the whole community of the faithful, which reflects Vatican II’s renewed teaching on the baptismal dignity of all, testify to this.


For Catholics, formation for married life and parenting, arising from their baptismal vocation, requires an intentional and ongoing ministry of peer support, spiritual and sacramental accompaniment, and discerning reflection on and support for the challenges of each phase of married and family life.

Resourcing the Mission: Vocations, Charisms, Finances


The Plenary Council offers a unique opportunity to foster collaboration among all the local Churches and Eparchies, Religious congregations, spiritual and liturgical traditions, cultural and multilingual expressions, contemplative and apostolic vocations that exist within the Catholic community in Australia, together with the extensive education, health and welfare agencies of the Church, and to call forth all the gifts and charisms given by the Holy Spirit for the Church’s mission (1 Cor 12:7).

Stefan Gigacz


Anna Tarazevich / Pexels




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