Church ministry and outreach

April 2015 Feature The term ‘minister’ has many uses in the Catholic Church. It refers to the person, ordained or lay, commissioned to act on behalf of the Church in…

April 2015


The term ‘minister’ has many uses in the Catholic Church. It refers to the person, ordained or lay, commissioned to act on behalf of the Church in a way that draws people to worship God more deeply through the power of the Holy Spirit and through Jesus Christ. Minister may be used collectively for members of the clergy, religious, lay pastoral leaders, and individually as a vocation or a profession.

Ministry roles may involve administration of the sacraments, liturgy, servers and ushers at Mass, taking Eucharist to the sick and homebound, welcoming new Church members, music and singing leadership, church-property care and maintenance, catechetical teaching, retreats, youth groups, counselling, ethnic and social chaplaincy, pastoral care and outreach, social justice advocacy, charity activities, education and more.

Wel-Com features some of the many ministry experiences among our Church communities.

Church ministry

Fr Patrick Bridgman

The Church and her mission, once thought to be the reserve of the Pope, bishops, priests, nuns, and brothers, is now understood as being the mission of all baptised. Lumen Gentium, the Vatican II document which considers the nature of the Church, speaks of a ‘priestly community’ made up of all who are baptised.
This understanding came from reflection on the life of Christ, his words to his disciples, and his actions throughout his public ministry.

‘As the Son was sent by the Father, so He too sent the Apostles, saying: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world”.’ (LG, 17)

This mandate is a responsibility that originates in baptism. ‘The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ.’ (LG, 17)

Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, writes, ‘In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf Mt 28:19). All the baptised, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelisation, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelisation to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients’. (EG, 120)

This leads us to reflect on ministry in the Church today. For if we are all agents of evangelisation, then how are we ministering in our interactions with others, whether within the Church or outside to the peripheries? Are we aware that we are ministering in the everyday actions of our lives?

It is good to consider such questions during this Easter season as we will be going forth proclaiming with the early disciples, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (Jn1:41).

With the links accessible from this page, Wel-Com shares stories from a range of people involved in Church ministry in its many forms.

Fr Patrick Bridgman is parish priest for Te Awakairangi Parish, the Archdiocese of Wellington’s Liturgy Adviser and teaches at The Catholic Institute.