1964 – Lay auditor addresses Council

Lay Auditor Addresses Council 

Mr. Patrick Keegan, lay auditor, addressed the Council on Tuesday on behalf of himself and his colleagues. The following is an extract of what he said : This schema marks for us a point of fulfilment in the historical development of the Lay Apostolate. We sincerely hope that it marks also the beginning of a whole new stage of development.

The schema is the natural outcome of the Church’s new awareness of Herself. It is also the result of the progressive discovery by men and women of their responsibility and role within the whole apostolate of the Church. All those who work in the different fields of the apostolate will welcome the present debate as a powerful recognition of their efforts. The very existence of the document under discussion is proof that the apostolate of the laity is no luxury nor passing fashion. It means that this apostolate is incorporated into the new dynamism of the Church, seeking new ways to implement the message of the Gospel, seeking new means better adapted to the different social, economic and cultural situations of modern man.

No document could have provided a codification of all that is being done in the different fields of the apostolate. Nor would one have wished that it should. This schema leaves the field open for further developments and at the same time points to the common ground in apostolic endeavour. Because circumstances and needs will differ, precise forms and structures cannot be universally imposed.

In the general report on the schema, we heard with great interest of the Commission’s intention to link this schema with other Conciliar documents which directly affect the laity : with, for example, the Chapter on the laity in “De Ecclesia “; with the Decree on Means of Conununication. In particular, we anxiously await the debate on the Church in the Modern World. All this will have immense implications for the responsible activity of the laity both in the spiritual and in the temporal orders.

Yet, whilst it is true that all Christians are called through baptism and confirmation to the apostolate, we must face the fact that few answer that call.

How are the vast majority of Catholics to be made aware of their apostolic responsibility to bear witness in their daily life, as members of a family, as members of the community of the Church and of the whole community ? This is the challenge for all those who bear responsibility for Christian formation—for parents, teachers, priests and for leaders of Catholic groups and organisations.

The lay apostolate cannot be an isolated entity in the Church. It reaches its fullness in close collaboration with all the other members of the Church. By its very nature it demands a constant and regular exchange between the Hierarchy and the laity. It is for us as lay people to bring to our Pastors our experience of the needs of the world in which we live, and to seek from them guidance in our endeavour to respond to these needs.


The Tablet, 17 October 1964