Every baptized Christian is directly responsible for the primary mission of the Church: evangelization. Pope Benedict XVI recalled this in an address in 2012, saying that lay people “should not be regarded as ‘collaborators’ of the clergy, but, rather, as people who are really ‘co-responsible’ for the Church’s being and acting.” Pope Francis has claimed that “in some cases, lay persons have not been given the formation needed to take on important responsibilities” (Evangelii Gaudium, §102), to the extent that every member of the Church is empowered as distinctly but fully called and co-responsible for the Church’s mission.
In the last major in-person event at Notre Dame this past spring, the McGrath Institute for Church Life hosted the “Called & Co-Responsible” conference to further explore, uplift, and clarify the bold and challenging commitment this call to missionary leadership requires in and for the Church. We thought this call to co-responsibility was relevant and timely two years ago when we started planning the conference, but now in the wake of the pandemic, relevance may have turned to necessity and timeliness to urgency.
Maybe you’ve heard the news that these are “uncertain times” and that we are entering some kind of “new normal.” It would be easy to become complacent in our disillusionment and settled into our uncertainty, not least when it comes to considering the life and mission of the Church. But this need not be a time of fear and powerlessness; instead, it can become a period for emerging hope should we commit ourselves to what matters most.
In the past few months we suddenly found ourselves in a situation where fostering Church life required additional creativity and thoughtfulness, even as we have missed being able to gather together in parishes and receive the Eucharist. In the midst of these atypical conditions, perhaps we have glimpsed new forms of responsibility that might instruct us going forward, especially as we slowly resume more familiar routines. This is a time to claim the responsibility Christ confers on us as members of his Church for the life of the world.
For this reason, the McGrath Institute is hosting a series of virtual seminars this summer aimed at empowering pastoral leaders and scholars for the work of renewing the Church. “Called & Co-Responsible: Summer Seminars for Church Life Renewal” continues and expands the work of our previous conference, but now with special attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the typical rhythm of dioceses, parishes, schools, and home life. Going forward from here, how might we all—clergy and laity, professional ministers, and parishioners—commit to renewing the life of the Church?
This series will address a number of pastoral questions, including how to enrich liturgical formation, nourish community even while physically distant, strengthen the domestic church, evangelize and serve the disaffiliated, and care for the most vulnerable.
One seminar will be hosted live each week between May 27th and July 28th from 3:30–4:45 P.M. EDT. The series will be led by University of Notre Dame faculty and staff, alongside partners and collaborators from outside the University. Seminars will feature pastoral presentations, case studies of pastoral approaches, and discussions among participants.
Each seminar is free but limited to the first 500 registrants. More information can be found on the conference webpage. If you are interested in receiving updates and reminders about registering for each seminar, submit your email address below.