Charisms and Priesthood Print
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 21 July 2008 18:06
I get nauseous on swings and merry-go-rounds. There's something about the repetitive motion, or perhaps the sensation of motion without really going anywhere that makes my body revolt. Truth be told, parish life can be similar: lots of activity, but little progress regarding the mission of the Church. And that mission is twofold: to help every person in the parish (Catholic or not) have a living encounter with the risen Jesus, and to help change the structures and institutions in the parish boundaries so they reflect what's truly human and promote the common good.

Each of us who have been baptized share in Jesus' three-fold office of priest, prophet and king. When I was ordained, my sharing in priesthood was directed towards the Church itself as a minister of the sacraments; my prophetic ministry fulfilled as I proclaim the Gospel and teach. Most priests (myself included before I began working with the Institute) do not know that our royal office focuses on calling forth and celebrating the spiritual gifts (charisms) of the laity and coordinating them so that our mission described above can be fulfilled. Administration of the parish is actually a small – and much less interesting – part of my royal office.

Having a knowledge of and an ability to help others discern their charisms, having a vision of how they might work together or be useful in pastoral initiatives is a crucial skill set for a priest, and is actually imperative if any aspect of my ministry is to be effective, because, in the words of Pope John Paul II, "the three [powers] of teaching, sanctifying and ruling are clearly inseparable and interpenetrating." and "directed both to gathering the flock in the visible unity of a single profession of faith lived in the sacramental communion of the Church and to guiding that flock, in the diversity of its gifts and callings, towards a common goal: the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth." ad limina address of Pope John Paul II to the bishops of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, September 11, 2004.