Parishioners from St.Joseph’s church in Mandalay are preparing food to serve the participants at their parish feast day
The first parish in Myanmar run by parishioners instead of the clergy is being hailed a success story.
Archbishop Paul Zinghtung Grawng of Mandalay’s decision last year to place administrative responsibility for St. Joseph’s parish in the hands of the laity has seen many positive results according to parishioners and the local parish priest.
Active participation and cooperation in organizing their parish feast day on March 19 was a great achievement, according to pastoral council members.
“Donations for the parish feast day, and other church activities increased significantly compared to previous years,” said pastoral council secretary U Gregory Tint Swe.
People wanted to take responsibility and have set about their duties with enthusiasm, he said.
Daily Mass attendances and adoration are up, and the level of collaboration among members of church associations has been very impressive he added.
“We can say that the running of the parish has improved about 50 per cent but we still need to build on spiritual aspects, liturgical worship and introducing a choir,” said Father Nay Kyaw Lwin, St. Joseph’s parish priest.
“Only when lay people are active in the Church, can it be said that a parish can progress forward,” Father Nay Kyaw added.
U Tin Win, president of the pastoral council said by having the laity taking care of management issues it allows the priest to concentrate on the “spiritual needs” of the parishioners.
Father Nay Kyaw admits that this has been a welcome development.
“I myself realize that I can put more emphasis on spiritual duties,” he said.
Looking at potential obstacles for other parishes considering adopting a similar system, U Tint Swe said: “You have to work to get ‘trust’ from parishioners as people in Myanmar have been instinctively looking to the clergy for guidance and parish management for many years.”
What is also needed “to run our kind of parish is for the clergy to give the opportunities and encourage laypeople,” he said
“The laypeople themselves need to have a strong desire to take responsibility,” he added.
Mandalay Archbishop Stresses Greater Lay Role
Bishop depends on laypeople to evangelize