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Like the church itself, ministry has undergone profound changes in the fifty years since the Second Vatican Council. Clergy and laity are called to ever-greater collaboration in ministry—not only in order to hand on the faith and serve the faithful, but also to inspire and equip all of the baptized to become “missionary disciples” for the transformation of the world. Within changing parishes and changing communities, lay ecclesial ministers face particular questions of identity, recognition, and resilience. What can we learn from the past so as to face the future with fresh hope and a renewed commitment to work toward the reign of God?
Edward P. Hahnenberg, Ph.D., is Professor and Breen Chair in Catholic Theology at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author or co-editor of five books—including most recently, A Church with Open Doors: Catholic Ecclesiology for the Third Millennium (edited with Richard Gaillardetz) and Theology for Ministry: An Introduction for Lay Ministers. Dr. Hahnenberg is currently a delegate to the U.S. Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue and was a theological consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee on Lay Ministry in its preparation of the document, “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord.” In 2011 he received the Spirit of the Conference Award from the National Association for Lay Ministry in recognition of his contributions to the church’s ministerial life.