Tod Walker, Local Minister SFO - Mosman

When my generation grew up in the 30's and 40's, we were taught by the Sisters and Brothers. The clergy had a great influence on us, because of the success of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which we were part of until we got married, usually to a girl from the CYO. Maybe, this influence by these religious was the reason for the high numbers entering seminaries in those days.

This left many with the idea that spirituality was something for the clergy and religious. They had it made, getting to heaven: with morning Mass, the daily Office, and constant contact with their fellow religious or clergy. The rest of us, the laity, struggle on in this material world, doing the best we can to gain salvation. Now, this picture I paint is only as it was seen by a small minority. I'm sure there were many good holy, saintly lay people who lived during that period.

Then, along came Vatican II and the many changes that followed. The laity seemed to be seen in a new light. They could and should be used in spreading the Good News, and they became much more active in the Liturgy and the management of the parish. Many of the laity were introduced to the Prayer of the Church. Today, it is not unusual to see a lay person with a breviary.

Many of the laity and religious have degrees in theology and are now working in parishes as Pastoral Assistants. There are also many lay people successfully lecturing in seminaries and running courses on religious topics.

The married laity cannot and should not be distracted from their man vocation, that is, of developing their family as practising Catholics. They should raise their children in the Faith by their teaching and example. All of this should lead them all to become an active part of their parish community.

I really believe that lay spirituality can be developed in the parish. There we can find all the ingredients needed to practise and to grow spiritually. We have prayer through the Eucharist, the Liturgy, the Sacraments, and the devotions of the Church.

We have charitable works by working in the St Vincent de Paul Society, and special ministers to the housebound, caring for the spiritual welfare of parishioners by working in the Legion of Mary, the R.C.I.A. program, and all the other tasks required to keep a parish operating successfully.

If we are involved in any of these tasks, we are doing something for someone else, and therefore being part of that wonderful Mystical Body that St Paul talks about.

The Parish Priest then has the job of helping all these workers to grow spiritually so that these tasks are performed for the love of God and so that they are able to see Jesus in all they serve.

We Secular Franciscans are very lucky in as much as we have been introduced to the prayers of the Church by reciting them daily. We have found the beauty of the Psalms.

There are many other ways of finding the Lord, but I have found that the Franciscan charism and the parish community have really worked for me.