Laity all have same goal

  • November 20, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - In the opening credits of The Simpsons — where Lisa goes off with her saxophone, playing a tune of her own — is not what Catholic lay movements should model in their attempts to effect change, Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins told nearly 200 people attending the archdiocese’s annual Catholic Symposium for the Laity.

“That’s the very world we’re fighting against — where ‘I have my little tune to play and so forget about you,’ ” he said.  
The Nov. 15 address by Collins, though filled with his usual humour, carried an important message to the laity about unity in the church. There were members of 69 different lay associations present at the annual symposium.

Collins called for those gathered to concentrate on two themes this year in light of their roles in the local church and the universal church: Sunday and stewardship.

“The day of the Lord is the day we come together, so we may have all of our different groups and forms of prayer and different missions, vocations and charisms, and all the rest, but one thing we do is come together on the day of the Lord,” Collins said.

He emphasized the importance of coming together on Sunday, where everyone — from movements of the church and not — gathers as one community to hear the word and repent, be in communion with the Lord as one family.

 He warned against being too rigid and being too elitist. Although borrowing St. Paul’s image of the church as the body of Christ, he stated the importance of having structure.

“Every body has got to have a skeleton,” he said. “Without the skeleton, all you’ve got is a pool of blood and without the blood all you’ve got is a pile of dry bones. What we need is to be all together, the whole body of Christ alive.”

He said it is important for people to focus on participating in their parish and encouraging others to do the same, “that it might be welcoming, that it may be vibrant and a great place where people come to hear God’s word.”

The focus of stewardship means people must not only be engaged but also recognize the talents of others and spread the engagement over everyone who comes into the parish. Collins also encouraged people to be grounded in their faith and understand their weaknesses but not be discouraged by them.

“All of us here are trying to serve our Lord very faithfully but we’re all sinners,” he said. “We’ve got to realize that we’ve got a thorn or two or three in the flesh and we’re not an elite, so one of the things that keeps us grounded is the penitential rite.”

But above all else, they must come to hear the word of God, be with Him, but not stay with Him, he said.

“All of those in our various lay organizations must receive the light of Christ, and then go to share it. That’s the pattern we’re meant to be.”

Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Richard Grecco commended all those present for the ways in which they outreach and evangelize the people of this archdiocese.

“When we get together to share the good news it’s encouraging to see the good work the church is doing here and around the world,” he said.

The afternoon portion of the symposium focused on the church and refugee sponsorship. Dr. Martin Mark, a refugee sponsorship co-ordinator at Catholic Cross Cultural Services, spoke about the different levels of sponsorship and how the laity can assist in the process.

For a listing of all lay associations in Toronto, visit

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