This month, The Life panelists reflected on how laypeople are true partners in their ministry, advancing the mission of their congregations and teaching them useful lessons in life. They responded to this question:
What are ways that partnering with laity has made your ministry more effective? What have you learned through this experience?
Editor's note: Because sisters are not ordained, they are considered part of the laity, not the clergy. Sometimes, they are called "consecrated" or "vowed" laity. Rather than defining the rest of the laity as "non-vowed" or "non-consecrated" — defining them by what they are not — the editors decided to generally use the simpler and commonly accepted understanding of laity and sisters.
Teresa Anyabuike is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur living in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. For a time, she was the coordinator of a Catholic community self-help association and a department of justice development and peace mission in the Ilorin Diocese. Currently, she is serving as a website manager for her congregation and manages her congregation's social media outreach.
Every person has a gift that they bring with them, no matter how insignificant. I can only be aware of this gift if I am open and accept the possibility of change. So partnering/working with non-vowed people has positively made my life and ministry more effective.
I worked with a young woman whom I see as the epitome of honesty and transparency. In my work, I have to give an accurate, updated account of the funds of a group of people. This young woman helped me through it. She is very accurate in accounting for the funds that come in and go out of the office.
One day, I was so confused about how to fix a mistake I had made in my accounting. She gently stepped in and asked me to calm down, stop looking at the account for a while and come back to it later so I would have a clearer picture of the figures. Then she would help me fix it. Working with her has made me more trustful and open to others.
Sometimes I had more money than I was supposed to have and could not account for it. She would help me track it. Many more times, she would find missing funds for me. I became confident in her and could leave my office in her care to attend to seminars/workshops that are crucial to the development of the office, and I gave her the opportunity to do the same.