Diocese of Saint Catharines


Diocesan Offices

Lay Associations and Ecclesial Movements

LAEM bookCover110ppMASRESWhat are the so-called "ecclesial movements"? How should they insert themselves in the local Church? What can the People of God can learn from them? How should they live their own charism as a service to all?

In these pages the reader will find a balanced explanation and definition of what lay associations and ecclesial movements are today. As new realities, they deserve to be known better and understood in their contemporary characteristics. They have become and are becoming ever more relevant in the task of new evangelization. This is a result of both the maturating process that the ecclesial movements have passed through and of the support and accompaniment by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The first four sections of this work give an adequate theological framework for assessing the topic. In that part of the book, the notion of the Church as an “organic and missionary” communion is given a key role, and a “theology of charisms” is developed. Moreover, a set of “criteria of ecclesiality” for lay associations and movements is also explained. Section Five focuses on the topic of the insertion of these realities, with their own specific charisms and identities, in the particular Church. Different aspects of this issue are analyzed taking into account a good number of real life experiences, without putting aside the tensions that sometimes arise, but also taking into account the ways in which the latter were or could be resolved. Section Six moves on into the missionary identity of lay associations and movements, linking their apostolic nature with the call for a new evangelization. The last section is a summary of the main ideas in the text, articulated around the notion of “hope”.

To order a copy, please visit: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2037981


What People Are Saying


"I enjoyed reading it, especially since we had a national meeting of various movements and associations.  It provides some thoughtful reflection on this dimension of our contemporary Church."


Most Reverend Brian Dunn
Bishop of Antigonish
Memeber of the National Standing Committee for
Relations with  Movements and Associations

"This book comes to us as a gift in helping us to appreciate and navigate some new waters as the members of the body of Christ collaborating in the urgent mission of the New Evangelization. We are grateful for the work that you have done on behalf of the Church in Canada, helping us to better understand these new lay movements and associations and their role in the universal Church and our local parishes."


Carla Smiley
Associate Director
New Evangelization Initiatives
Archdiocese of Edmonton

"One of the courses I teach at St. Augustine’s Seminary is Lay Ministry in the Diocesan Church and one of the units of study is on Lay Associations and Ecclesial Movements. Bishop Gerard P. Bergie, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Catharines, gave me a copy of German’s book and I read it immediately. I liked it so much that I used it as one of the required texts for the course and the students enjoyed it very much. German McKenzie is a very clear and organized writer. He provides an excellent overview of the teaching of the church on lay ecclesial movements. It is a useful text for bishops who are considering the validity and criteria to be satisfied in order for a movement to receive ecclesial blessing and support. I recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn more about these movements and their reception in the local church."

Dr. Josephine Lombardi
Assistant Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology
St. Augustine´s Seminary
Scarborough, Ontario

"I took my time to read it slowly hoping that most of it would come through my 80 years old grey cells. The I read it second time highlighting what seemed to me as very important.

It is obvious that the author wanted to root his text in the best possible references... Scripture...Church History...Second Vatican Council..The Code of Canon Law...texts of Pope Paul VI...John-Paul II and Benedict XV...Canadian and American Episcopal Conferences...and more.  I would have liked to see some thoughts and quotations taken from the Church’s liturgy and prayer life.

His section on the Richness of Charisms reminds us that the Holy Spirit is doing more than his share in our world of today and gives full meaning to the well known refrains:” Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on us”, and “Everybody  Moved by the Spirit “...covering all the ranks of God’s people. He does have healthy and valuable comments in regards to our baptismal call to a genuine “meat and potatoes “holiness as we go through the regular routines of our everyday living.

He is also very honest and admits that daily parochial and diocesan life is not always problem-free. As our Sunday gatherings reveal so clearly, all our congregations have to face and cope with the realities and very different – yet enriching cultures –plus a variety of Catholic vivendi  styles. But, when difficulties arise and become serious problems, he insists on the primacy of charity at all times.

He acknowledges that all ecclesial movements should do their best and make sure that their very existence and activities are in communion with the Holy Father and the bishops...and this without affecting their rights to existence.  I think that really refers to what used to be called “sentire cum Ecclesia “ and it is indeed a very precious and  worthwhile principle to always keep in mind...

This book is pregnant with valuable information, insights and ideas and will hopefully lead the readers in the right spiritual, pastoral and scriptural directions."


Father Léo Couture
Archdiocese of Saint Boniface


Some Ideas

Here you will find some suggestions to make the most of this book:

  •     Just study it on your own...
  •     If you are a Pastor, set up a study group with members of the lay organizations and movements at your parish...
  •     Members of new movements and communities may gather to discuss the text and enhance their understanding of their identity and ecclesiality as members...
  •     If you are in charge of a Diocesan Committee on Lay Apostolate, have it as a source of inspiration and as part of your formation programs...
  •     It is useful for the formation of  priests, seminarians, and lay persons on the topic of movements and the local Church...
  •     Reconcile difficulties through a shared reading of this work...


Table of Contents

1. New Answers for New Times

2.    The Freedom and Right of Association in the Mystery of Communion

  • 2.1  The Church, Mystery of Communion
  • 2.2  Examining the Church’s History
  • 2.3  The II Vatican Council
  • 2.4  The Code of Canon Law
  • 2.5  Living the Right of Association

3. The Richness of Charisms

  • 3.1  The Charisms of the Church
  • 3.2  Discernment of Charisms
  • 3.3 Charism and Hierarchy to the Service of Communion

4. Criteria of Ecclesiality

  •       4.1 The Primacy of the Vocation to Holiness
  •       4.2 Profession of the Catholic Faith
  •       4.3 Communion with the Holy Father and the Bishops
  •       4.4 Conformity to and Participation in the Church’s Apostolic Goals
  •       4.5 Commitment to the Service of Human Dignity in Society


5. Articulation and Insertion in the Particular Church

  •     5.1 To the Service of the Particular Church
  •     5.2 The Parish, Community of Communities
  •     5.3 Pastoral Commissions
  •     5.4 Lay Chaplaincies
  •     5.5 The Particular Church and the Universality of Charisms
  •     5.6 Areas for Incorporation
  •     5.7 Diocesan Priests and Ecclesial Movements
  •     5.8 Consecrated Life, Societies of Apostolic Life and Ecclesial Movements
  •     5.9 Relationships between Movements and Associations
  •     5.10 Relationship with other Lay Faithful
  •     5.11 In All Charity

6. New Evangelization and Ecclesial Associations and Movements

  •    6.1 A Renewed Evangelization for New Times
  •    6.2 Challenges of the Coming Culture
  •    6.3 Evangelized Communities and Evangelizers

7. Looking with Hope to the Third Millennium


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