What will we look like in our 5th century?

Former Superior General Father Robert Maloney is well known for his many articles entitled “Five Faces of …” (Try googling the three words – Maloney five faces).

The fourth chapter of Fr. Maloney’s book “A New Century Dawns: Hopes for the Vincentian Family,”  does not give us 5 faces of the Vincentian Family in its fifth century. But, true to form, he offers us five facets or characteristics that would express his hopes of the profile for lay women and men in the Church of the future.

  1. They will be profoundly lay
  2. They will be well-educated, well-formed, and knowledgeable about the social teaching of the Church
  3. They will be electronically connected
  4. They will be team players on a multi-racial squad
  5. They will be truly missionary.

It would be helpful to read this chapter against the backdrop of his profile of some laity in the New Testament. He profiled Priscilla and Aquilla for AMERICA MAGAZINE almost 15 years ago.

What do we know about them? The texts tell us that they were:


a married couple
converts from Judaism
lay missionaries• expelled from Rome during the persecution of Claudius
living in exile in Corinth
working as tent makers, the same occupation that Paul had
hospitable to Paul, taking him into their home
Paul’s missionary companions in Ephesus, and really the founders of the Church there
risking their lives for Paul’s sake
hosts of the local Church in their own home, a house-church
catechisers of the great preacher Apollos.

Going back some 35 years ago St. John Paul offered the following challenge to a group of Bishops.

The church looks to the laity in this field to show more and more conviction and generosity! And she looks too to priests to give still broader acceptance to this vision of the church, to awaken the laity to the vocation which is properly theirs and give them real responsibilities! Many priests suffer from being on their own, from facing tasks which are beyond their strength, and this is understandable; But have they known how, through their trustfulness, to create a climate which would allow the laity to offer their help?


It seems to me that you still need to aid your priests, who in other respects are so laudable, toward a better understanding of their role as animators.

“Pope John Paul n ORIGINS 12 (1982) September 16 pp. 215-218

Each of us may also have our ideas of how far we have responded to this words of St. John Paul. But the real questions are

  • What are we doing today to recognize and recruit those who have grown up in this digital age?
  • Recognizing technology is a challenge for digital immigrants how do we see ourselves regarding the social teachinng of the church and moving past our Lone Ranger self- reliance individually and as as members of various branches of the Vincentian Family.

What do you think?

I hope you are stimulated to buy and read A New Century Dawns: Hopes for the Vincentian Family

Fr. Robert Maloney -Catalog #2017 $10.00

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