Clergy and Laity: A Dialogue between Deaf People

God and My Work: A series on the role of the laity in the Church. Part 3.
by Father Luis Garza, LC | Source:

Another point that seems critical to me and that has a lot of negative influence on the evangelization of the world of work is the distance between the clergy and the laity. Popular wisdom says, “My problem is the biggest problem in the world.” A person who works from sunrise to sunset and who has to show results in his business or work, and also bear the responsibility for his family has his own difficulties, and he neither understands nor wants to know about the problems of the other. The problems of his parish priest, unless he is a close friend, are as remote and irrelevant to his reality as a natural disaster in some other part of the world. For the pastor who has to administer and maintain the parish, as well as attend thousands of pastoral emergencies on behalf of the faithful who ask for him, the working problems of one of his parishioners may escape his notice.

On the other hand, the majority of pastors have not studied for a civil career, nor have they been trained to work in businesses or in specific professions. Thus, they do not know that world from within, nor do they know its demands and the challenges that their parishioners face there. They hear a lot of clichés, slogans, and preconceived ideas that give them a vague idea of the life of their parishioners, but not a deeper understanding. At the same time, most lay Catholics have not had a good Catholic formation, and they do not always know what a pastor does and what obligations he has. The result is a dialogue between two deaf people.

I do not believe that the solution is for the pastor to become a worker or a businessman, or for him to be trained for a business or a profession. Nor should the person in the world be put in charge of directing the parish for a time. Yes, I do believe it is necessary for there to be more understanding of the two groups’ needs, and of their worlds, concerns, and challenges in order to establish an enriching dialogue. In this sense, it is very important for the clergy to be able to understand the realities of the world more deeply, and for the laity to take an interest in the priests’ difficulties and challenges. A work of formation in common could be desirable.

As a Catholic, I feel an obligation here to give praise where it is due, because I have experienced firsthand the witness of self-giving and holiness in a countless number of priests who make possible, at the cost of their own sleep and rest, the enormous work of evangelization, caring for souls across the length and breadth of the earth. They are the inheritors of the glorious history of generations of priests and pastors who have gone before them, and who have made Christ known and loved by many people. I think that all Catholic faithful have a debt of gratitude toward them. This is why it is urgent and necessary for there to be a good understanding between the clergy and the lay people, because if we want to be convincing witnesses, today’s world needs us to be united.

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Published by: rico gamogamo
Date: 2010-07-26 00:13:39
Good day Father Luis, I miss the 1st and 2nd part of this series, I would me most privileged if you could send it to me through email. Thank you so much and God bless. Yours In Christ, rico gamogamo

Published by: rico gamogamo
Date: 2010-07-25 22:41:00
Father Luis, God's peace! Being a lay leader in our parish, connectivity to our parish priest is also my number one concern, can you give me some pointers on how to get his attention. Our community, Couples for Christ has a lot of programs for the family that the parish can use to bring back families to God. Yours In Christ, rico

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