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A Church Ministry for Cooperatives

AS Jesus reminds us that he is the vine and we are the branches, and it is the branches through which nourishment enlivens the vine (cf. John 15:15), so it is with parish ministries and organizations. There are many ministries and organizations by which a parish is enriched — some of which require occasional participation, and others which entail regular service. In the book, Modern Catholic Dictionary written by John A. Hardon, S.J., Fr. Hardon defines ministry as “authorized service of God in the service of others, according to specified norms revealed by Christ and determined by the church.” Thus, the aim of ministry is building up the Body of Christ and the power of ministry is God’s grace.

Traditionally in the Philippines, a parish would have under the Parish Pastoral Council at least 7 core ministries known as WESTYFaP (Worship, Education, Service, Temporalities, Youth, Family Life Apostolate and Public Affairs) but over the years the emergence of new parish ministries based on the “signs of the times” would be organized at the parish level after due consultation at the Archdiocesan level.

Based on Fr. Hardon’s definition the establishment of a parish ministry presupposes: (1) Service of God, who is glorified by the loving service given to others; (2) Authorization by the church’s hierarchy; (3) Based on the teaching of Christ, who showed by word and example how to minister to people’s spiritual and temporal needs; and (4) Under the guidance of the church in accordance with her directives and decrees. Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic church (no. 873) stipulates that:“[I]n the church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission. To the apostles and their successors Christ has entrusted the office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing in His name and by His power. But the laity are made to share in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly office of Christ; they have therefore, in the church and in the world, their own assignment in the mission of the whole People of God.

Pope St. John Paul II, reminds us that the parish is “the church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters.” It is the unit of the church closest to the lives of the people and how they live their faith. The parish has become a home for many people, something close to their heart and the patterns of their daily life. The parish can provide for many of our needs, spiritually, socially, and otherwise. And it is through its ministries that the parish is able to reach-out to those in need within the community.

A Ministry for Cooperatives can help stabilize communities because cooperatives are community-based business anchors; which can help distribute, recycle, and multiply local expertise and capital within a community. They pool limited resources to achieve a critical mass. They enable their owners to generate income, and jobs, and accumulate assets; provide affordable, quality goods and services; and develop human and social capital, as well as economic independence (Gordon Nembhard 2002, 2004b, 2008a, 2014; Fairbairn et al 1991; Logue and Yates 2005; WAGES no date; Yes! Magazine 2013). In addition, co-op enterprises and their members pay taxes, and are good citizens by giving donations to their communities, paying their employees fairly, and using sustainable practices (Gordon Nembhard 2013; Iowa Association of Electrical Co-ops. 2011). The main apostolate of this ministry is not to organize cooperatives for the parish but to help educate and organize cooperatives within the parish community.

The attempt to solve common problems by combined action is at the root of cooperatives, but empowerment, shared ownership, and democratic control are also key concepts of cooperative ideology. Members become bound to each other through values and principles as well as through their shared experiences in the cooperative. Cooperatives attempt to balance individuals’ needs with those of the community as a whole by encouraging individual empowerment within the structure of membership and responsibility to the group” (Jennifer Wilhoit). As with the KOINONIA of the Early church, the voluntary and spontaneous sharing moved toward institutionalized forms of concern for the poor as the church grew and needs persisted (cf. Acts 4:34, Dt. 15:4, 11). Moreover, St. Paul’s insistence on the principle of equality and participation shows that the basic idea of koinonia remains the common sharing, rather than the incidental giving or receiving that may be necessary to secure such fellowship (cf. 2 Cor. 8:14).

KOINONIA means “Community”, especially the community of the faithful, of whom St. Luke says they formed a fellowship (koinonia) of believers who worshipped together and held all their possessions in common (Acts 2:42-47). It was also the favorite term of St. Paul to identify the union of the faithful with Christ and among themselves, and it was the Church’s term in the earliest creeds for the communion of saints, i.e., the believers on earth, the souls in purgatory, and the elect in glory (cf. Catholic Dictionary).

Pope Francis writes: “While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be ‘the church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters’. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few” (The Joy of the Gospel, 28).

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For any personal comments or suggestions, you may call 0917-4805585 or email me at csorita@yahoo.com.

Publication Source :    People's Tonight
Bro. Clifford T. Sorita
Sociologist / Former PPCRV Secretary General / Professor