IF NOT YOU, THEN WHO

Mark Price

LAY PASTOR SOCIETY

The Lay Pastor Society is a simple formatted plan to show and share the love of Christ with each and every member of your church family on a regular basis, and a way to evangelize in your parish. The Lay Pastor Society was conceived in 1980, and was established in 1991. The Bible verse that inspires the society is “Do you love Me?... Tend My sheep.” (John 21:16)


THE FOUNDATION OF THE LAY PASTOR SOCIETY  

  • The Teachings of Jesus Christ
  • The Inspiration of the Holy Spirit
  • The Challenge of Vatican II
  • The Necessities of our Times


OUR CHALLENGE

"I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization"                        Pope John Paul II


It is the responsibility of Christ's Church to reach-out and meet the needs of its family.  In today's world, with the expanding number of church members and the declining number of priests and deacons, it falls upon the lay people to assist in meeting those needs.  It is the responsibility of Christ's Church to reach-out and meet people's needs with love.


As a result of Vatican II lay people are not only given the right to take on more of the traditional responsibilities usually reserved for priests and deacons, but in addition, are empowered and challenged to do so.


In Scripture, Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who leaves his flock to find one lost sheep.  For the past two centuries, the lay members of the church have relied on the ordained members to complete this task.  However, our church has become so large that our ordained members aren't able to keep up with the "sheep" who lose their way and the "sheep" who are tending to stray.  It is, therefore, our responsibility to assist our ordained.  We must take the words of Christ to heart and look after and help our fellow Christians.  In other words, we are to accept the call of Jesus, after all, he was talking to all of us.


Our challenge is to take on the mantle of disciple.  To become a lay person who feels the call to assist the Church's ordained in meeting the needs of its flock.  Our challenge is to serve the church as a Lay Pastor.


OUR GOAL  

Our goal is to establish a community of lay people. Lay Christians who will work together to reach-out and tend to the many needs of our Church family;

  • To assist and support the ordained in communicating and carrying out the teachings of Jesus Christ;
  • To be an extension of the loving arms of "Mother Church."  
  • To lovingly pursue and "return to the fold" any and all lost sheep;
  • To offer comfort and direction to all who wish a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.  Then to assist in their spiritual and Christian growth and development;
  • To be an example of a true disciple and follower of Jesus Christ as exemplified in Holy Scripture;
  • To contact all who call themselves members of the church and offer leadership, help, understanding, compassion, love, support and guidance;
  • To encourage in everyone a closer walk with the Lord;
  • To provide one Lay Pastor for every 20 families in a parish;
  • To form support groups within each parish comprising a maximum of ten Lay Pastors.


OUR MISSION STATEMENT

  • Our mission is to serve the Lord and to serve our Church as a fellowship of Lay Catholic Christians dedicated to personalizing the love and concern the Catholic Church feels for its members.  
  • We will strive to strengthen and unite the individuals and families of our parish to love, worship and trust in the Lord.  
  • It will be our goal to communicate, on a regular basis, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, that they are remembered and loved by their Church.  
  • We will humbly and discreetly address the concerns of our parish members and will do all we can to assist and support our ordained and religious in their leadership of our Church.


REQUIREMENTS TO BECOME A LAY PASTOR

  • A Christian; 
  • A Baptized, Confirmed and current member of your church;
  • Approved by your Pastor and church community;
  • Man or Woman, married or single, 18 years of age and above (the age limit is discretionary);
  • A willingness to make a three year commitment;
  • A desire to more fully meet the call of Jesus to go out into the world as a witness to share the love of Christ;
  • An unselfish resolve to help your fellow men and women;
  • A desire to serve rather than to be served;
  • To feel the call to be a Lay Pastor as an inspiration of the heart rather than as an aspiration of ego and self gratification.


LAY PASTOR RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Attend an introductory weekend retreat designed to help Lay Pastor candidates discern, focus and dedicate their lives to this new call.  (It is for spouses also.) 
  • Accept as shepherd the responsibility of monthly contact with all assigned church families.  (Approximately 20 families per Lay Pastor.)
  • Attend a monthly meeting with fellow Lay Pastors and the pastor of your parish to pray, discuss and brainstorm.  To bring to light any questions, desires, concerns and/or needs expressed by assigned families.  To plan next months contact goals.  (In addition to basic monthly contact, there should be an underlying goal to accomplish with each months contacts.)
  • To be a listener and a loving Christian brother or sister,  One who lets his/her flock know that there is someone out there who cares.  Not to be a counselor, lawyer, psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor, scriptural expert, financial advisor, etc.  If a member of your flock needs help in any of these areas you are to direct them to the proper, licensed church affiliated organization or service agency.
  • To be aware of and current on all available church/parish organizations and service agencies.


LAY PASTOR SUPPORT

  • A newsletter (RIPPLES) will be sent to all Lay Pastors with inspiring and encouraging news of successes as shared by fellow Lay Pastors;
  • An annual retreat of renewal.  To regain focus and to rededicate commitment;
  • A bible and study guide (if one LP doesn't have one) assisting the the Lay Pastor to work his/her way through the Holy Scriptures on an annual basis;
  • A lapel pin to wear and serve as a reminder of the call you accepted to serve the Lord. 


THE LAY PASTORS PRAYER

My Heavenly Father, I thank You for all the wonderful people You've put in my life.  

I thank You for my Church family and especially for the families Ive been assigned to look after and care for.  


Please help me to realize at all times and be ever mindful that they are Your children, and that what I do for them I do for You.  And what I forget or neglect to do for them I forget and neglect to do for You.  


Please give me the strength, understanding, patience and compassion to carry out my responsibilities and to meet the needs of my brothers and sisters. 

Please help me to properly assist my pastor and unselfishly fulfill Your wish for me here on earth.


Please help me to remember that I am truly here to serve and not to be served. 

I pray for all those who are struggling to know You better, and for all those who have yet to come to a relationship with You. 


I say these things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen  


HOW THE LAY PASTOR SOCIETY IS ORGANIZED, CUSTOMIZED,  FUNCTIONS AND SUCCEEDS FOR CHRIST.

Your parish can customize its own Lay Pastor Society and well help you get started!All the tools, formats and programs are easy!


Many have asked, "Well, how do we get started?"  Each church begins the process a little differently, that is one of the beauties of this ministry, it is completely customizable.  In an effort to help we offer the following guide to "Getting Started".  It is a synthesized version of the path taken by many different churches:


1.  PRESENTATION TO PASTOR 


2.  PRESENTATION TO PARISH COUNCIL AND/OR APPROPRIATE COMMITTEE WITHIN PARISH


3.  CHOOSING COORDINATORS FROM THE PARISH

Generally it is one, two or three couples who wish to serve the parish in this capacity.  Their responsibility would be to act as pastors or shepherds to the Lay Pastors.  They would coordinate and run monthly LPS meetings.  They would be responsible for all aspects of the ministry within the parish.  They would coordinate with Ed Nolan (Ed is the Executive Director of the LPS) for answers to any and all questions.


4.  PRESENTATION TO THE CONGREGATION

We would coordinate a weekend that meets with everyones schedule.  I would then speak at all the masses (the presentation is approx 13 minutes long and is generally done at Homily time.  I recognize that some Pastors don't like lay people to speak at Homily time and in those cases we will present at any time the Pastor chooses.  Our presentation will always tie into the Gospel and many times, if the Pastor allows a presentation at Homily time then he or the presiding priest will offer a brief Homily of their own and then introduce me.  We are happy to work within the guidelines prescribed by your pastor.)  At the end of mass I will be at the back of the church with those who have been selected as coordinators and will answer questions and ask parishioners to sign-up to become Lay Pastors.  We will provide sign-up sheets and brochures.  (Both sign-up sheets and brochures are available as a download from our web site.)


5.  DIVISION OF PARISH MEMBERSHIP

The parish roster (list of registered families) is divided in to groups of 20 families.  The purpose is to assign 20 families to each new Lay Pastor.  The list provided to the Lay Pastor should include name, address and telephone numbers.  The list is presented to the new Lay Pastors either prior to or during the Commissioning Ceremony which takes place at the discernment retreat.


6.  DISCERNMENT AND TRAINING RETREAT

Within two weeks of the presentation to the congregation there will be a retreat in your parish.

It will be conducted by Ed Nolan and/or Mark Price.  The purpose of the retreat is threefold;

  • a.  To answer any and all questions,
  • b.  To stress the importance and responsibilities of ministry, and
  • c.  To train the participants in the workings of the Lay Pastor ministry. 


We end the retreat with a Commissioning Ceremony.  It is generally held in the church, either before or during Saturday evening mass.  We ask that your Pastor or Associate participate in the Ceremony.  A copy of the brief ceremony is available on our web site.  The retreats are generally held on a Saturday from 9am to 4pm with the parish providing lunch and morning coffee, fruit, donuts and snacks.


The new Lay Pastors are now ready to begin their ministry and their calls.  We ask a three-year  commitment from the Lay Pastors and the Coordinators.  (Three years was chosen   as it was the length of Jesus ministry on earth.)


Important Note:  

We will supply all the required binders, inserts and materials.  Many of the items are available on our website for download and can be copied at the parish.  However, if this is not possible we are happy to bring and provide all materials ourselves.


The goal of the Lay Pastor Society is to bring to life and to action the most basic of Christ's teachings and commandments To Love One Another and to "Tend His sheep."This is accomplished by an ongoing effort of volunteers who feel called to this form of ministry.           


Important Note

To start a Lay Pastor Society in your parish the price is:a desire a commitment and a phone call.There is no charge - no cost!


The format of the Lay Pastor Society can be customized and characterized to the needs and desires of each parish or church community.  The organizers of the Society will be happy to work with you to achieve your goals.


The set-up and function of the Society is divided into 4 main areas:First, DIVIDING THE FLOCK.  With the help of parish leaders, all families are divided into groups of approximately 20.  The names, addresses and phone numbers are supplied to the LPS.


The second area is TRAINING THE PASTORS.  If the basic requirements to become a Lay Pastor are met, those interested then attend a retreat to learn about the program and how the Church directs members to seek help and assistance.


The third and most important, yet most rewarding, area of the Society is TENDING THE SHEEP. Once a month Lay Pastors contact their flock families or individuals to let them know they are thought about and cared about by other people, the Church and the Lord.  This is usually done by phone calls, but cards, visits, and coffee breaks are often enjoyed.


The LPS supplies Society members with ideas and thoughts for conversation and sharing.  Parish activities and good news are also considered.  Lay Pastors reach out in love to share good news but are mainly reaching out to listen, support and show Christs love.... this can take many and varied forms. 


The Lay Pastor concept sounds simple and, maybe to some, unnecessary.  But just think of the faithful people in your parish who receive a phone call from NO ONE during a month.  But then, if you knew who they were, youd call them, wouldnt you ?  We have lots of stories we can share....


Concerns, joys and prayer requests are noted by each Lay Pastor on the pages supplied.  Rewarding and loving reships are established.  And the help and support that is often so needed but unspoken is shared with someone who cares.The final area of organization is SHARING AND SUPPORTING.  On forms supplied by the organizers, Lay Pastors record their thoughts after conversations.  These notes are their personal and confidential information, gathered in love.  At the monthly Meetings, Lay Pastors share concerns or challenges with the other Lay Pastors and appropriate parish leaders.  But NO NAMES are mentioned unless there is a major question, or GOOD NEWS!  The Lay Pastors are encouraged to share with a Priest or parish leader if there is a concern which merits attention. 


PLEASE, bear in mind this is a very broad and general overview of the LPS.  We hope you will call us if you are at all interested.  Let us tell you how it is working to save lives and spread the Good News !


Our Society can ensure that no one in your parish will easily ..."fall between the cracks."A newsletter and other support materials are available to those interested in starting this ministry.


HOW DOES THE LAY PASTOR SOCIETY ANSWER THE CALL TO EVANGELIZE?

Evangelization is sharing the Good News of Jesus.  Evangelization is living what Jesus taught us.... to LOVE ONE ANOTHER...and DO UNTO OTHERS .....The Lay Pastor Society DOES as Jesus taught by sharing the Good News, on a regular basis, with all the families in the parish.  Letting each family know that they are cared about, and loved by fellow parishioners, the Church and Jesus Christ.  The results of this simple and consistent act of love offer remarkable and surprising reactions and responses.    


The Lay Pastor Society focuses directly on the first two goals of the Bishops National Evangelization plan: GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES  The Bishops initially explain the first goal by saying, Clearly, unless we continue to be evangelized ourselves, with renewed enthusiasm for our faith and our Church, we cannot evangelize others.  Priority must be given to continued and renewed formation in the faith as the basis of our deepening personal relationship with Jesus.    


The Bishops also state, The first goal calls us to an enthusiasm for all that God has given us in our Catholic faith.  It also fosters ongoing conversion within the Catholic Church which, as in institution and a community of people, it continually needs.     In expanding on the 2nd goal, the Bishops state, Catholics should continually share the Gospel with those who have no church community, with those who have given up active participation in the Catholic Church as well as welcoming those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. People can know they are invited to experience Jesus Christ in our Church only if they are really and effectively asked and adequate provisions are made for their full participation.


HOW DOES THE LAY PASTOR SOCIETY ACTUALLY WORK?

The Lay Pastor Society strives to support and help meet the spiritual needs of the families in its parish.  To show and share the love of Jesus Christ and the Church to parish families so any new comers or on lookers see an ever-present network of love and support that is there for any and all.  A loving network and faith which is available to all... at any time.  The Society puts love into action in its realm of responsibility, where appropriate, and passes information on to the Pastor or other qualified/appropriate people when that is the right thing to do.

LAY PASTOR SOCIETY