When I was a kid in All Saints Parish, on the north side of Houston, I would frequently get in religious discussions with my Methodist and Baptist friends. One of the things I remember always being so proud of was “my church never changes.” I was proud of that because it was true. The Church of the 1940’s was essentially the Church of the first and second centuries. It is true of its basic structure, its fundamental beliefs and its essential missionary nature. That fact is still true today.
Then, in the 1960’s, along comes a rather fulsome pope named John XXIII. He didn’t want the Church to change in any one of its essentials, but he felt that it had to change in terms of some of the crustaceans that had gradually attached themselves to it and impeded its effectiveness. One of the most graphic examples of change in the Church today is that of the role of missionaries, especially foreign missionaries, who so often in the past were priests, brothers and religious women, is gradually being assumed by lay people.
I was thrilled to see that Maryknoll, the official American foreign mission society, is preparing to send out another group of 13 lay missionaries. These are young and middle-aged American citizens who are walking away from the comforts and security of their traditional lives and taking themselves to Africa and South America and other places where they will help the Church, already established in those parts of the country, to build up and become evermore effective.
For information, contact Maryknoll Lay Missioners, P. O. Box 307, Maryknoll, NY 10545-0307, (914) 762-6364, e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org.
God bless Maryknoll. God bless the laity.