WASHINGTON (June 22, 2000) -- The Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers has been slated for November 26 throughout the Catholic Church in the United States.
To assist parishes in marking this occasion, the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth has prepared an 18-page resource, Jubilee Days: The Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers, Together in God's Service. Copies are available at $2.00 each through the bishops's Office for Lay Ministry. A bulk rate also is available.
The resource packet offers suggestions for ways individuals, parishes and dioceses can note the day, prayers and prayer services, and background information on lay ministry. It also includes a message of affirmation and gratitude to lay ministers signed by the heads of five Bishops' Committees: Bishop Joseph P. Delaney, Subcommittee on Lay Ministry; Bishop Gerald F. Kicanus, Committee on the Diaconate; Bishop Joseph J. Gerry, Committee on Consecrated Life; Bishop John McRaith, Committee on the Laity; and Bishop Richard C. Hanifen, Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry.
According to the packet, the day has two goals: "to honor and celebrate the lay ministers within the Church and to invite the whole Church to reflect on the gifts these lay ministers bring to the fulfillment of the Church's mission."
Lay people serve the Church in both volunteer and paid positions and work in such areas as parishes, diocesan offices, hospitals, schools, prisons, seaports, and airports.
Parishes and Parish Ministers: A Study of Parish Lay Ministry, by Msgr. Philip J. Murnion and David DeLambo of the National Pastoral Life Center notes the following based on a 1997 research effort:
- There were 30,000 lay ministers in the United States;
- Of lay parish ministers, 82 percent were women;
- Lay ministers were present in 63 percent of U.S. parishes;
- Only 6.4 percent of lay parish ministers were Hispanic, African American, Asian American or native American;
- Educationally, 80 percent of lay parish ministers had a college education, and 53.5 percent had at least a master's degree;
- About one-third of lay parish ministers did not find their salaries adequate for their needs in keeping with the work and expertise required of them. One third of these and one-fourth of all lay ministers think that their parish cannot afford an adequate salary.