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The important role of the laity in the evangelization mission of the Church cannot be controverted and lay faithful have been called upon to live up to their vocations calling to enhance the reach - outmission of the Church with the Good News of Christ.

The admonition was made by the Deputy Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Mr. Moses F. Ekpo, MFR, in his keynote address to the participants at the 135th National Executive Council Meeting of the Catholic Laity Council of Nigeria (CLC), held at St Anne Cathedral Church, Ifuho, Ikot – Ekpene, Akwa – Ibom State.

Speaking on the theme: Rights and Obligations of the Lay Faithful, Mr. Ekpo used several documents of the Church to outline the invaluable role of the laity in the Church pointing out that “… unless the laity is faithfully committed to playing their rightful roles as defined by the church, the work of wining souls which is the main focus of the Church could be impeded”.

The guest Speaker pointed out that while the “clergy and the lay faithful originate from the secular society to the Church through conversion and baptism, the clergy remains the exclusive class of those who had furthered their faith through special training and ordination into the sacred ranks and hierarchy”.

He however noted: “… in spite of their non-clerical status, the laity is expected to contribute significantly to the day to day administration of the Church even as they play key roles in the conduct of services assigned to them by the clergy.”

He added: “Certain endowed persons among the laity can acquire more profound knowledge of the sacred sciences and the theological studies in ecclesiastical universities. They can also perform certain liturgical functions and rituals, some of which are temporal while others are of permanent nature.”

The deputy Governor debunked the claim about strained relationships between the priests and their lay member saying: “”contrary to wide spread  perceptions that the relationship between the clergy and the laity is akin to a master –servant one, evidence clearly show that it is a symbiotic relationship since there cannot be clergy without the lay faithful and vice versa.”

Noting that the experience and practice within the Church clearly spells out the rights and obligations of the laity as institutionalized, Mr. Ekpo  declared: “given its prominence of place and relevance in the Church and ministry of gospel evangelization, the lay faithful have been fully empowered with appropriate rights, duties and obligations for the sole purpose of enhancing the work of the gospel.

The delegates were also addressed by the National President of the Association, Barrister Chizoba Nnagbo, Honourable Justice Pius P. Idiong, President of the Ikot – Ekpene diocesan Laity Council and the Calabar Provincial Laity Council President, Sir Mike Bisong Obi (KSJI).


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