The last five months have been a whirlwind, lots of moving. Moving from Kent to St. Cloud. Moving from parish ministry to diocesan ministry. Moving from pastoral associate to associate director of lay leadership formation. Moving from a well-established position to a brand-new position that I had no idea where it was heading.
Moving. It makes me think of that song, “The Spirit is a movin’ all over, all over this land,” complete with actions from my adolescence. It was never one of my favorite songs, but it stuck. Now I think of it and it speaks to me of what is happening in our church. The Spirit is moving.
The Spirit may be moving through our church, but we may not be feeling it. We have reached a time in our church where many of us are angry, frustrated, sad, hopeless, and many other adjectives that describe our feelings about the latest chapter in the abuse crisis. We are worried about what the pastoral plan for the diocese may mean for our parishes. What will it mean when we do not have enough priests? What do we do about the number of young people who are leaving the church? What do we do about the dwindling mass attendance? What do we do when, for every one person who joins the Catholic Church, six leave? Some have chosen to walk out the door with the others. Some have chosen to stay, but not with any enthusiasm. Some have chosen to stay and find the good again.
All of these worries have us wondering what the leadership of the church will do. I know I sit and wait for the next bombshell to drop and ask, “why don’t our leaders step up and do something about all of this?” They have to change something or things will continue to get worse.
Let’s be honest, when we think of the leaders of the church, we quite often think of the popes, the bishops, the priests, and the deacons. The ordained. And while they are leaders, they are not the only leaders. My job title is associate director of lay leadership formation. If that is in my job title, doesn’t that make me a leader, too? Leadership indicates some form of responsibility. That must mean I am also responsible for the life of the church.
I am a leader and I am responsible. Not because I work for the diocese. Not because my position has a long title. Not because I have a Master of Divinity degree. I am responsible because when I was two months old my parents brought me to St. James Catholic Church and I was baptized into the Body of Christ, the Church. I was given a “share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1268)
We are all given a share in the priesthood of Christ at baptism, in his prophetic and royal mission. Priest, prophet, and king. These are leadership roles; therefore, we are all called to be leaders in the church, lay and ordained, by virtue of our baptism. We are, as Pope Benedict XVI said in 2009 “co-responsible” for our church.  We are co-responsible for the mission of our church. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20). We do this through our words, our witness, and our service.
We are being moved by the Holy Spirit to become a church of co-responsibility. No longer can we expect to simply show up for Mass or expect the priest or his staff to be at everything and do everything. If we want to see change in our church, to make our way through our struggles, to find the hope again, we must work together, lay and ordained. We need to embrace our share in our common priesthood and lead the church into the future. Allow yourself to be moved by the Holy Spirit to become co-responsible for your parish.
 Benedict XVI, “Opening of the Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome on the Theme: ‘Church Membership and Pastoral Co-Responsibility’ Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI,” May 26, 2009.