"Celebrating Eucharist" as a lay community does not fulfil one's Sunday obligation - "How not to solve the priest shortage" (July AD2000).
Catholics are obliged to worship God at Mass if it is reasonably possible to attend. Holy Communion is not essential, but desirable, providing the person is in a state of grace.
The Church urges parishioners to meet for prayer on Sundays where no priest is available; and in some cases Holy Communion may be distributed. This, however, is no replacement for the Mass.
Effectively equating lay roles with priestly ministry is a mis- application of the message of Vatican II. Evidence suggests that this may be the thrust in the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese where priests have been directed on two occasions to attend a Synod meeting in Canberra on a Sunday while leaving their parishes to have lay-led liturgies. Not all priests complied.
Also, the role of extraordinary minister is established as a strongly feminised "special ministry" complete with weekly rosters.
The matter of priest shortage was addressed some years back at public meetings in both Canberra and Goulburn. A Canberra parishioner proposed that a request be lodged with the neighbouring Diocese of Wagga Wagga where there were surplus priests at the time. The reply was that such priests were "too conservative." Instead, Goulburn parishioners were to be offered lay ministry in abundance. They declined.
A correspondent (July AD2000) has stated that a group in Ballarat Diocese, along with Bishop Connors, may be seeking priests from overseas. She reports that there are abundant priests in Poland, India and the Philippines.
Should we not consider this solution before abandoning the Mass in favour of lay-led liturgies?