Last year I began the pursuit of a Master’s in Pastoral Ministry from St. John’s University School of Theology. I have been exposed to many things and my mind (and not to mention my writing abilities) have been substantially challenged. So far I have taken a total of fifteen credits in such areas as philosophy, Scripture, leadership and Catholic Social Teaching. Most recently I took a class in Ecclesiology. (Which I have learned means the study of the Church.)
For my final paper in Ecclesiology I looked closely at models of the Church that were put forth my Cardinal Avery Dulles in his book, aptly named, Models of Church. Using documents from the Second Vatican Council, I wanted to explore the connection between the way the Catholic Church is portrayed and the expression of ministry and the understanding of call. In this blog I want to share with you a bit of what I found….
Every ministry in the church is a gift that is inspired and empowered by the grace of God in Christ. Through the church, “God’s plan was to raise man to a participation of the divine life” (Lumen Gentium, 2). Fidelity to this fundamental call on the part of all the faithful is essential for the renewal of the church for “the root reason for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God” (Gaudium et spes, 19). Expressions of church need to, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “probe more profoundly into the mystery of the Church” (Gaudium et spes, 2) so that all people will find a place to belong and live out their particular call.
Cardinal Dulles said that “the Church in every age has adjusted its structures and offices so as to operate more effectively in the social environment in which it finds itself”. Now it seems that with Vatican II’s affirmation of the universal call to holiness, the Church has entered into to a new era of vocational and ministerial expansion. Therefore it is important to keep in mind that just how no one model of Church is better than the other, no one type of call to ministry will fit all the needs of the Church, much less the world. Renewed and fresh expressions of church and ministry are yearning to burst forth mindful that “in the Church, everyone does not proceed by the same path; nevertheless all are called to sanctity and have received an equal privilege of faith through the justice of God” (Lumen Gentium, 32).
Most of all I came away with the idea that no matter how church is lived out, no matter how church is represented, no matter what aspects of church are emphasized one thing remains true – there will always be people called forth to fill positions of leadership and there will always be people who are called to be set apart for the service of the Lord and the faithful. I learned that this is an exciting time to be Catholic and most importantly I learned that I am evermore grateful for my call to be a Benedictine!
Sister Lisa Maurer
Sister Lisa Maurer was born and raised in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. Before entering the Monastery, she taught and coached in Catholic Schools within the New Ulm Diocese. Sister Lisa made her first Monastic Profession in August 2009 and on July 11, 2012, she made her Perpetual Profession. Her first ministry was working at the parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Joseph in Duluth. Currently she is the Mission Integration Manager of the Benedictine Health System. See all of Sister Lisa’s posts.