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Posted September 13, 2006

Book: Priestless Parishes: The Baptized Leading the Baptized
Author: Virginia Stillwell
Thomas More. Allen, Texas. 2006. Pp. 144

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

In dioceses across the United States, bishops are appointing qualified lay Catholics to lead “priestless” parishes. Is this a revolution in the making? If it is, it appears to be Spirit-driven and Spirit-guided. The good news is that parishes led by lay Catholics are thriving. Priests continue to play a vital role in these parishes, but the responsibility for carrying out the mission of the church is placed squarely where it belongs — with the baptized. Priestless Parishes tells the story of those lay Catholics who are leadig parishes without resident priest-pastors. Each chapter begins with a conversation between people whose lives are affected by this ministry. The road for these lay leaders is not an easy one; the stories are inspiring. These are pioneers paving the way as they go, serving as role models for all Catholics to learn how to claim their baptism in everyday life.

An Excerpt from the Book:

We may be suffering not so much from a shortage of priests as from an abundance of grace. We have more Catholics in America than ever before in our history and more laypeople qualified to provide pastoral leadership in the church than we could have even imagined at the time of the Second Vatican Council. In Lay Ecclesial Ministry, the bishops agree that “Lay ecclesial ministry is a gift of the Spirit to the church. The experience of the past thirty-five years can be seen as the grace-filled work of the Spirit.” Some people even consider the decreasing number of available priests to be a blessing, since it is making room for others to use their gifts in service and leadership to the church.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Where’s Father? The baptized leading the baptized

1. What priest shortage?

2. Are laypeople qualified to lead parishes? Baptismal vocation

3. Who authorizes them? Apostolic authority

4. What can they do? Priestly service

5. How does it work? Leadership among equals

6. What about Father? Collaborative ministry

7. What is the role of the diocese? Catholic communion

8. What’s next? Trusting the Spirit