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Vocations and Ministries

Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears My voice, and opens the door,
I will come unto him and dine with him and him with me.
Revelation 3:20

Pulled from the archives, i found this file on vocations, created for one of scouting’s religious emblems programs. I cannot for the life of me find the original attribution, if there was one, but we made several adaptations anyway. This version was prepared by me, for the  Archdiocesan Committee on Catholic Scouting in Seattle, several years ago. Still worth a reminder: there’s more to vocation than priests and nuns.

There was a time when, if somebody said the word “vocation”, people would think mainly of “priests and nuns”. However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines vocation as “The calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter.” Today the church clearly uses the term to refer to the calling each of us has to use our God-given gifts to participate in the mission and ministry of the Church: All Christians have a vocation.

Each person’s vocation has three components: The first part is the call to faith. The second is the call to relationship. The third is the call to ministry.

The call to faith is sometimes referred to as the ‘universal call to holiness’: “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” (Lumen Gentium 40 §2). We are all called to be the best Christians we can be, with the help of the gifts God has given us. We are called to love one another, to practice justice and charity, to help those most in need, and to transform ourselves and the world around us to be more like Christ. This is more than asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” It involves asking “Who does Jesus want me to be?”

The call to relationship is sometimes referred to as your ‘state of life’. Each of us is called to love everyone around us. But, we obviously do not love everyone in the same way. The call to relationship is about how we love the people around us, how we are in relationship with other people. Some people are called to marry and raise a family. Some are called to take vows and live in a religious community with other people who make the same vows. Some are called to remain single for life and not get married (this is called celibacy). Most people spend several years as single persons before committing to marriage, religious life, or celibacy.

The call to ministry is probably what most people mean when they talk about vocations. This is about what you do as a member of the church, and how you participate in the mission of the Church. The Church’s mission is to carry on the mission of Christ: Proclaim the good news of God’s saving love for all people; to establish a prayerful community of believers; and to serve the needs others, especially the poor and marginalized. Through our initiation by Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, each member of the church takes responsibility to carry out this mission of Christ in partnership with other church members.While everyone is called to contribute to the common mission of the church, not everyone is called in the same way. After all, we each have different gifts and talents.

Within the call to ministry there are two essential groups:Lay ministries and ecclesial ministries.

Lay ministries are sometimes called ‘the lay vocation’ or ‘the lay apostolate’. The word “lay” comes from the Greek term laos theon (People of God). The people whose calling is to lay ministry are called “the laity” or “lay people”. They are the people chiefly responsible for the mission of the Church in the world. This includes evangelizing (bringing non-believers into relationship with Jesus), doing works of charity for the poor, advocating for justice to eradicate poverty, and transforming the world so it is more like Christ. With such a big job, it’s a good thing that 99.7% of all Catholic Christians are called to lay ministry!

Ecclesial ministries get their name from the Greek word ekklesia which means ‘assembly’ or ‘church’. It basically means official church ministries. Ecclesial ministers serve the pastoral and spiritual needs of the Church members by preaching, teaching, and sanctifying (inspiring others to holiness). They are often, but not always, the most visible leaders within the church and most are employed full-time by the church. Some are ordained (Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons) but others are not (Theologians and Lay Ecclesial Ministers). They make up the remaining 0.3% of the Church’s members.

It is always important to remember that “there is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are many types of service to be done, but always the same Lord, working in many different kinds of people; it is the same God who is working in all of them.” (1 Corinthians 12.4-6) In other words, each vocation is different, but they are all equal.

This section lists a variety of currently recognized ministries in the Catholic Church in Western Washington. It is not complete: New ways of serving God’s people are constantly developing as needs are identified and awareness is sharpened. Traditional church roles can take on new characteristics as the culture and social climate changes.

Ecclesial Ministries  (ordained)

  •  Bishop
    • Archbishop; Auxiliary Bishop; Retired Archbishop
  • Presbyter (Priest)
    • Vicar General; Episcopal Vicar; Dean; Pastor; Priest Moderator; Priest Administrator; Parochial Vicar; Chaplain
  • Deacon
    • Archdeacon, Protodeacon, Pastoral Coordinator; Pastoral Associate; Pastoral Assistant

Ecclesial Ministries  (non-ordained)

  • Theologian
    • University/College Theology Professor; Archdiocesan Theological Consultant; Author (of theological books/articles)
  • Lay Ecclesial Minister
    • Archbishop’s Delegate; Chancellor, Ecumenical Officer, Pastoral Life Director; Pastoral Coordinator; Pastoral Associate; Pastoral Assistant; Catholic School Principal; Youth Ministry Coordinator; Campus Minister; Prison Minister; Hospital Minister; Missionary; High School Religion Teacher; Catholic Elementary School Teacher; Lay Presider; Lay Preacher

Lay Ministries (Instituted)

  • Acolyte
  • Reader 

Lay Ministries

  • Liturgy ministers
    • Altar Server;  Cantor; Choir; Eucharistic Minister (Extraordinary Minister of Communion; Lector; Master of Ceremonies; Musician; Sacristan;
  • Catechists
    • Baptism preparation;  Bible Study leader; Catholic media (journalists, bloggers, etc); Faith Formation/CCD teacher; Confirmation preparation;  CYO camp staff;  Engaged Encounter team; Evangelization team;  First Communion preparation; First Reconciliation preparation; Religious emblems facilitator; RCIA team; SALT; Scout leader; Young adult ministry; youth ministry
  • Consultative Leadership
    • Diocesan Synod, Pastoral Council, Finance Council, Liturgy Commission, Ecumenical Commission, Faith Formation Commission, Social Justice/Outreach Commission, Parish School Board/Commission
  • Social Justice and Pastoral Care ministries
    • Annulment Advocate;  Cabrini Ministry; Catholic Community Services worker; Catholic Relief Services worker; Catholic Worker member; Food Bank volunteer; Grief minister; Hospice minister; Hospitality minister; Jesuit Volunteer Corps; Just-Faith/Justice Walking; L’Arch Community; Mission trip; Parish Nurse; Parish Counselor; Peer Minister; Pro-Life advocate; Sant’Egidio, St. Joseph’s Helpers; St. Vincent de Paul; Visitor to sick and elderly;
  • Spirituality and Devotions
    • Communion and Liberation; Cursillo; Faith Sharing group leader; Focolare, Marriage Encounter; Retreat leader; Returning Catholics team; Spiritual Director; Spiritual Coach; Stephen’s Ministry

States of Life/Call to Relationship

  • Vowed Life
    • Marriage
    • Religious vows (monastics [monks, nuns], mendicants)
  • Consecrated Life
    • Consecrated Virgin, Hermit, Opus Dei Numerary, “Brothers”, “Sisters”, members of some lay movements
  • Promised Life
    • Celibacy
    • Engaged/Betrothed persons
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