In the Name of the Church: Vocation and Authorization of Lay Ecciesial Ministry

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In the Name of the Church: Vocation and Authorization of Lay Ecclesial Ministry William J. Cahoy, ed. Liturgical Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-8146-3423-3. 219 pages, paperback, $19.95.

"Lay ecclesial ministry" is the name given to the work done by some lay people, not on their own but in the name of the Church. In this new collection of essays from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, we find another step in the development of a theology of lay ecclesial ministry. If you are curious about the phenomenon of lay ecclesial ministry and its impact on the life of the Church-especially here in the United States-this book represents the most up-to-date wisdom of theologians, bishops, national ministry leaders, and lay ecclesial ministers themselves.

Edited by Dr. Bill Cahoy, the dean of St. John's School of Theology-Seminary, In the Name of the Church considers the state of the question. In his introductory chapter, Cahoy states: "This book with its particular focus on the vocation and authorization of lay ecclesial ministers, is meant to be a contribution to that learning and the adaptive work of the church" (p. xi).

At its core are seven essays written by various theologians, each considering a different aspect of lay ecclesial ministry, ranging from how we understand this ministry as a vocation, to a biblical basis for such ministry, to the theological rationale for authorization of lay ecclesial ministers by the bishop, and consideration of rituals for said authorization. Along the way the reader is treated to a wonderful lookback at the development of the role of parish director of religious education (DRE) and how the identity of the DRE paved the way for other types of lay ecclesial ministries. An analysis of some different rituals for authorization and initiation into lay ecclesial ministry at the diocesan level is also an insightful read.

These seven theologians comprise the Collegeville Ministry Seminar II, and their essays were given in draft form to the 230 participants (including myself, representing NPM) in the 2011 Collegeville National Symposium on Lay Ecclesial Ministry. While the authors assumed that participants were reading the final drafts, Cahoy notes how the collaborative work of the symposium enriched these essays and led to their further revision and publication in this book. He writes: "When we came together for the symposium, something remarkable happened. …