By Lacy de la Garza
Special to The Texas Catholic
Lay leadership in the Diocese of Dallas is a critical component of our future success. If my role in the Diocese of Dallas Synod process has taught me anything, it is that ideas are nothing without people to execute them. Bishop Edward J. Burns is choosing to use our Diocesan Synod as the primary determinant for the future of the Diocese of Dallas. This determination is inextricably tied to the gifts and talents of the people of God who reside here and willingly give of themselves for the benefit of others. In preparation for the next phase of our synodal process, I encourage you to pray with a few thoughts over the months approaching our Diocesan Synod Assembly in December of 2024.
I think it is important to say very clearly that lay leadership in the Church should never be limited to title-heavy roles. Rather, leadership in the Church is built from a foundation of personal, continual invitation for us to strive for the individual holiness God wants for us. This can be done in a number of ways, and will change as our stages in life change, but the constant is that we are drawn to God, for God, in service of others. Until the end of time, each of us has an ongoing responsibility to offer our best selves to the Church for her fruitfulness. Canon 210 from the Code of Canon Law lays out this responsibility in very clear language: “All Christ’s faithful, each according to his or her own condition, must make a wholehearted effort to lead a holy life, and to promote the growth of the Church and its continual sanctification.” In how we speak, how we treat others, how we care for ourselves, how we fulfill our natural obligations and responsibilities, how we pursue friendships, how we pursue relationships, how we cultivate our inner life and relationship with God, how we entertain ourselves, how we create, how we play, and how we conduct business, we will be held accountable. In these things are opportunities for us to more fully embrace the holiness God desires for us, and how we lead others to (or away from) Christ.
Leadership roles we take on in the Church over and above our own individual pursuits of holiness are only ever going to be icing on this cake. Roles born out of specific devotion to God’s plan for us will produce fruit; roles born out of our own individual grasp for power, recognition, or control will divide us further. So, while we do not know what will be asked of us as members of the laity serving the Diocese of Dallas following the Synod Assembly, we do know that God is calling us to holiness today. With the blessing of time we have between now and then, I can only encourage you to bring your heart to God and to ask Him for the openness to hear and the courage to respond to whatever is asked of you, now and in the future. “[Lord], I will follow you wherever you go.” [Luke 9:57]
Lacy de la Garza is the chair of the Diocese of Dallas Synod Preparatory Commission.