The Redemptorist is made up of priests and brothers. Although the priests are ordained and the brothers are lay they are all united by a common religious vocation / profession and they are all equal in dignity.
Since the founding of the Redemptorist congregation, the brothers have always been an essential part of the congregation. St. Gerard, the second Redemptorist saint was a brother.
Traditionally, the brothers played a supporting role to the mission work conducted primarily by the priests. In recent times their role expanded and they have become more active in mission work. As a result most people are able to see how the brothers are able to contribute to the realization of the Redemptorist missionary thrust.
PCP II states “brothers affirm by their choice of lay religious life that many are the ways other than ordination or matrimony that the Lord calls mature men to serve the Kingdom of God.” They no longer need to think that only those who are ordained to the priesthood have a dominant role to play in the work of evangelization.
By their witness the brothers manifest that it is possible to take religious vows and remain lay persons. The brothers are then able to convince the laity that they can take on very important roles in the evangelization work. By such witness, they are able to encourage the ordinary lay people to take on greater initiative in doing mission work. This further makes them realize that they need not rely solely on the clerics for doing all the pastoral work.
As Redemptorist brothers are members of religious communities who take time out during the day to pray, meditate, and celebrate the Eucharist as well as spend days for recollection and retreats, they are able to bring other laypeople to a realization of the great value of prayer and liturgy. The are encouraged to deepen their being a worshiping community.
Because they are not burdened with clerical duties and responsibilities and given range of their academic, professional and work backgrounds, they are in the position to offer a unique contributing the needs of the poor.
As part of the mission team at the service of the Local Church, the brothers can do any of the following pastoral work:
- teach catechism to adults and children.
- organize bible-sharing groups where faith-life concerns are discussed and communal actions are decided on
- set up community based health programs where those interested are taught the use of herbal medicines and other oriental ways of curing the sick
- help farmers develop organic farming and other environment-friendly farm technology.
- organize credit, consumer, marketing and multipurpose cooperatives.
- set up nurseries of tree seedlings for reforestation.
- help organize ecological action appropriate in the areas of work.
- conduct literacy classes
- set up community theater groups — reaching out mainly to out of school youth to improvise plays for conscientization.
- get involved in the production of audio-visual material that can be used for educational purposes.
- do research, documentation, and publication on the impact of government development and big business projects on the lives of the poor and the environment.
- do human rights advocacy work by documenting violations and working with lawyers to file cases in court.
- help in looking for safe drinking water and setting up water projects.
Being able to practice a profession — such as being a teacher, social worker, agriculturist and the like — or being able to use skills in the service of the poor have led to a greater realization that brothers are lay people. This distinguishes them from clerics who are mainly called to look after the sacramental and liturgical needs of the people.
Because the brothers do not have to undergo the long theological formation that clerics go through, they can pursue professions or accumulate skills that are useful in the missions. In this regard, they become more mobile and can offer a variety of services according to the gifts and skills that they possess.