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Mission and Laity

MISSION AND THE LAITY - Mr. Michael Ariola, a lay missionary of the Catholic Community, Couples for Christ, shares his experiences and discusses the important role that the laity can do for the mission of the Church.

Couples for Christ (CFC) International Council member Michael Ariola presented "Mission and the Laity" at the second National Mission Congress in Cebu, Philippines, April 17 – 24, 2022.
 
The event marked the culmination of the Jubilee Year to mark 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.
 
In his talk, Ariola shared the significant role the laity can play in the mission of the Church as a lay missionary of the Catholic community.
 
As a Catholic lay missionary for the past 21 years, he has served in CFC movement. 

CFC is a Catholic movement, started in 1981 in Manila, Philippines, by Ang Ligyan ng Panginoon (Joy in the Lord), a covenant charismatic community. Through the years, it has increased in number and in territorial reach. It is now present in 110 countries.

In 1995, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines approved the movement as a national private association of the lay faithful. It found Vatican recognition in 2000. It is a private international association of the Catholics of pontifical right.
 
Referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1994:1213, Ariola, said, "Every Christian is called to be free from sin and born again as  a child of God, becoming a member of Christ and being incorporated into the church, and becoming part of her mission.” 

He said, “We become members of Christ's family through our baptism.”
 
He has been a lay missionary in some islands around the Philippines and some other countries. 
 
In the letters of St. Paul to the Romans and the Filipinos, St. Paul mentions that the laity was spontaneous in their movements in the early church.
 
Ariola indicated that "Laity should live out their purpose in life through their lay vocation."
 
"A missionary does not necessarily mean going beyond the borders of the country or region in which one resides, but rather living out your vocation to the fullest," he said.
 
He explained, "The primary job of the laity is to witness how they live their lives and explicitly share their faith with others." 
 
Laity apostolates are a part of their Christian vocation and the Church cannot do without them. 
 
The Sacred Scriptures show the fruitful and spontaneous nature of such activity at the very beginning of the church.
 
"By attending several prayer meetings and youth clubs in the "church", I discovered genuine happiness in Christ and I was transformed by their young Christian lives," he shared. 
 
He wanted to become a priest, but that did not happen. However, his university degree could be a great help to introduce people to Christ.
 
In 2001, he was called into the ministry of Couples for Christ as a lay missionary and full-time pastoral worker. 
 
During his one-year missionary service in South Africa, he served with three other young lay missionaries.
 
During his time in the Archdiocese of Johannesburg (South Africa), around 30% of youth lost their parents, were infected, and died of HIV, and most of them were economically poor, so they got involved in crimes to survive.
 
Ariola married in 2003, during a stint as a missionary in Africa, and in 2004 the couple had a girl child called Andrea.
 
In January 2005, he was invited to serve as a lay missionary in Kwazulu-natal in South Africa in the Archdiocese of Turban.
 
“We, as missionaries sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we will be the ones to bring the Gospel to where we are sent,” he said.
 
He quoted St. Paul VI, on the development of the people, saying, “Laymen should take up as their proper task the renewal of the temporal order.”
                                                                                                              
It is the role of the hierarchical structure to teach and interpret authentically the moral rules to be followed in this matter: but it is the laity's responsibility to take initiative without waiting passively for orders and directives and to infuse a Christian spirit into the community's mentality, customs, laws, and structures, Ariola explained.
 
He invited people to pray with him like mother Mary, saying, “May we offer our yeses to the mighty one who has done great things for laity missionaries, and out of gratitude, we will live out our missionary calling as lay faithful.”
 
He hoped, “We would all live our lives to the fullest, bring Christ into our vocations, and may our vocations bring Christ into the world.” 

 

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