'Emerging Layman' An Obsolete Phrase
The presence of the Church in the modern world was evidenced with psychological impact and dramatic physical dimension here last weekend by nearly 8500 persons.
A cross section of the Church and the secular city mingled, as they do in real life, in the sleekly functional boxiness of the International Hotel, a cosmopolis in miniature.
This was the first Southern California regional congress of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine.
The character of the participants and the tenor of the three days made the phrase "the emerging layman" seem as ridiculously obsolete as a Spad in the Air Force.
This was a seedbed of apostolic maturity, enthusiasm and acceptance of responsibility.
This was a businesslike, weekend geared tightly for study and practical gain.
There were 61 courses and workshops closely scheduled and conducted by priests, laymen and Sisters according to the competence possessed and the requisites of the subject.
The congress had one principal concern, and all discussion and study polarized about it: to teach Christianity in such a way that it permeates and becomes homogenized in the fabric of every man's life every day.
What this means and how to accomplish it were the two main fields for discussion.
On the program was a spectrum of related topics, ranging from theology to teenage psychology to teaching techniques – all bedrocked on the unifying theme of making religion a living force in the lives of men.
Msgr. John J. Scanlan of San Francisco phrased the issue in these terms at Friday night's opening assembly before 2000 persons:
"The role of the Catholic layman is to leave a Catholic impact upon the city of man. To do this he must perfect himself as a person. The liturgy is the is the means by which he realizes himself as a person and as a member of the Christian community."
In individual workshops, catechetical specialists spelled out the approach to the perennial evangelical mission of the teacher: What is needed is to produce not only assent to a body of dogma; but also active awareness of how this translates into living as a Christian.
Through the rapid weekend the 8200 registered delegates from Fresno to San Diego and from as far as Las Vegas and Denver, applied themselves to these tasks.
With equanimity and without self-reference they took in stride the conditions that resulted from a hotel being completely swamped.
They stood in lines to register for rooms Friday night.
They stood in lines for elevator service, for meals, for a cup of coffee – always making the time productive with absorption in the prime subject.
The Confraternity Congress made of the hotel a compact, vertical university of catechetics. Study ranged formally and informally from class discussions to talk in the crowded lobby on up to the Penthouse Lounge, darkened in presumption of inducing romance, where perhaps love of God was extensively talked about for the first time.
A salesman from Upland, who was a CCD delegate, perhaps best capsuled the atmosphere of the Congress:
"This is like a sales convention. You get all enthused, you learn some new things and you go back ready for more work."
It was a sales convention. The product was salvation and the guarantee eternal.
Copyright 1967, 2005 The Tidings -- January 20, 1967
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