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Initiatives: In Support of Christians in the World

The Newsletter of the National Center for the Laity

P.O. Box 291102

Chicago, Illinois 60629

Dr. Bill
                    Droel, editor of InitiativesEditor: Prof. William Droel
Fax: 773-776-9036

A Bit of History

            It was Advent 1977 when 47 prominent Catholics issued A Chicago Declaration of Christian Concern. "We wait impatiently," they wrote, "for a new prophecy, a new word that can once again stir people to see the grandeur of the Christian vision for society." Why, the Declaration signers wondered, has the teaching of Vatican II on the mission of the laity "all but vanished from the consciousness and agendas of many sectors within the church"? Instead, church leaders seem preoccupied with internal issues: the relative shortage of priests and religious, financial crises, personnel problems. These are, admittedly, important concerns. Yet "the laity who spend most of their time and energy in the professional and occupational world appear to have been deserted."         

           The Declaration hit a nerve. Conferences, radio programs, and scores of articles debated its implications. Nearly two million copies were eventually distributed. So much mail was generated by the Declaration that a secretariat quickly became necessary. That office, first housed at Mundelein College, was called the National Center for the Laity.           

            As the months went by the NCL formed a board of directors, filed for separate incorporation, began publishing INITIATIVES, held conferences and retreats, and developed a network of individuals and institutions that share the concern voiced in the 1977 Declaration. The NCL now has a Chicago-based board. There are active committees. There is a national advisory group. There are about 80 churches, Newman centers and organizations in a fledgling NCL network. There are 5,000 readers of INI
TIATIVES in the U.S., Canada and seven other countries.

            What, years since the original Declaration, is the NCL perspective?

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