Newsletter for U.S. Bishops Sponsored
by the NCCB Subcommittee on Lay Ministry
|This newsletter is developed by the NCCB Subcommittee on Lay Ministry. The purpose of this newsletter is to highlight lay ministry trends, resources, models, and other key information that may be helpful to the U.S. Bishops. Please forward suggestions and comments to:
NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth
3211 4th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
New Consultors for Subcommittee
Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco and Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati have accepted the invitation of Bishop Joseph Delaney, chairman, to serve as consultors to the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry. Both Archbishops participated in the Theological colloquium, "Toward a Theology of Lay Ministry" which the Subcommittee sponsored in May 1997.
Consultation with Women Diocesan Leaders Planned
The Bishops' Committee on Women in Society and in the Church will consult with about 125 women in positions of diocesan leadership at a meeting scheduled for March in Chicago. The consultation has two major purposes: to hear and critically reflect on the experiences of women who influence diocesan decision-making and to obtain the participants' perspectives on several selected questions where women's experience and expertise are needed.
The consultation is a follow-up to a study done for the Committee in May 1999 by the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators. The survey reported that women hold approximately 25%of top diocesan positions and 40 to 50% of the middle management positions in the 50% of US Catholic dioceses that participated in the survey covering 1995-1998. (That survey is available at www.nccbuscc.org\laity\women)
In preparation for this consultation, every diocesan bishop was asked to submit names of women in diocesan leadership positions. Over 375 names were received. All of those women were asked to complete a survey which asked, among other things, what helps/hinders women's voices being heard in decision-making processes, what have been their positive and negative experiences, what are their sources of support, etc.. The report of the survey, being prepared by the Life Cycle Institute at CUA, will be background for the women who will be participating in the consultation with the bishops of the committee. During the consultation Dolores Leckey and Leodia Gooch will be keynote presenters and there will be several workshops on issues suggested by the committee and by the women.
Further information from Sheila Garcia, 202-541-3041
Boston Offers New Degree Program for Laity
In September, the theology school at St. John's Seminary in Brighton in the Archdiocese of Boston inaugurated a master's degree program for the laity.
The degree, called master of arts in ministry, features an academic curriculum that can be completed in two years. The ten core courses include philosophy, systematic theology, Scripture, Church history., sacramental theology and moral theology. Students may also choose from electives which include such areas of specialization as spirituality, catechesis, liturgy, and care of the sick.
The program is designed so that the human, spiritual, and apostolic formation of the students is completely integrated and the students form a learning, praying community. In addition to the academic and formation components, the program also includes an apostolic field education program.
During its first semester there were 27 degree candidates and 13 students enrolled for continuing education. Of the 27 degree candidates, 80% are women, 63% are married. Seventy-four percent of the students already have experience as lay ministers. Designed for lay men and women who are preparing to serve as pastoral associates, religious educators or in other administrative and ministerial positions in the church, the program has attracted some who are coming for faith enrichment and are still discerning their call to church ministry.
The classes are offered in the late afternoon and early evening , a feature which makes it possible for the 60% of the students who work full-time to enroll. The archdiocese is subsidizing the program to make it as affordable as possible. Some students also receive financial aid from their parish or the Seminary.
Further information from Aldona Lingertat, 617-779-4104
New Program To Prepare Work-Life Ministers
Seton Hall University in the Archdiocese of Newark is launching a graduate -level certificate program to prepare leaders for work-life ministry. The goal of such a ministry is to develop diocesan and parish programs to help working Christians reflect on their work in the light of their faith and discern their way through work-related decisions. The role of the minister will involve listening to experiences and facilitating processes whereby participants can insert their experiences into the larger themes of Catholic Christianity.
The program consists of five three-credit courses: Introduction to Work-Life Ministry; Theology of Work; Catholic Social Teaching; Christian Decision-Making; and Spirituality and Contemporary Culture.
Further information from Bill Toth, 973-761-7692
From Our Tradition . . .
All Christians Called to a Life of Discipleship
All Christians are configured to Christ through Baptism, for that is the sacrament by which new People of God are incorporated into the Church, participate in Christ's death and Resurrection, and assume the name of "Christian." All Christians are called to a life of discipleship and have the obligation of extending his work and presence in the world today, advancing the Reign of God in our owqn time and place. All share in the one same vocation - to be and to build the Body of Christ, advancing the Kingdom of God here and now.
It is through witness, worship, and service that all the members of the Church continually express and receive their identity as the Body of Christ. Whatever the vocation or ministry, ordaiend or lay, each and every one is an expression of the threefold mission of every baptized Christian. What the Church is - a body of witness, worship and service is what each of us is called to be. We do this according to the gifts, the charisms, we have received in baptism. These differ. But whatever we do, we do it in the name of the Lord in the power of the Spirit for the building of the Body of Christ and the transformation of the wider world through the service of charity.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, Address to the National Catholic Diaconate Conference, 2000
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Orthodox Church in America Publishes Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries
A Resource Handbook for Lay Ministers is available in print and on the Web from the Orthodox Church in America. The contents of the handbook, which consists of three volumes are organized in nine categories: Theology of Lay Ministries, Stewardship Education, Parish Development, Community Service, Witness and Mission, Family Life, Youth-College Ministries, Seniors, and Other.
The section on Theology of Lay Ministry contains an article titled "Women's Role in the Church: One Woman's Perspective" by Phyllis Meshel Onest, M. Div. One of the first woman graduates of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology Ms. Onest states that "women are called to serve in every area of Church ministry, with the exception of the ordained priesthood. This is limited, for specific reasons, to a small percentage of men." She traces women in the New Testament, through Christian history and in modern times, commenting that in the United States today, "women graduates of seminaries are involved in ecumenical dialogues, teaching in colleges and semiaries, writing, Christian education, music, as theological librarians, in healing ministries, monastic life, iconography, missions, charitble work, and more."
Identifying herself as a theologically educated woman with a vision of Church " a bit different than others," Ms. Onest writes she believes "that in addition to encouraging others to grow in Christ, to serve His Church, my role includes helping others find their place, their niche, where they can minister, given their respective gifts."
Further information from Arlene Kallaur, Orthodox Church of America Unit on Education and Community Life Ministries, 516-922-0550
From Around the World. . .
Hong Kong Diocese Funds Overseas Study for Lay Ministers
In 1991 when the diocese of Hong Kong celebrated the centennial of the building of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the diocese allocated one million Hong Kong dollars for a Laity Formation Fund. When the diocese celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Catholic mission in Hong Kong, a walkathon raised 2.5 million dollars to increase the fund. The fund is administered by a Board of Trustees appointed by Cardinal Wu, the Bishop of Hong Kong, a finance committee, and a selection committee.
Each year the financial yield from the Capital Fund is used to help the formation of lay Catholics in Hong Kong in accordance with the needs of the diocese; to assist the applicant to receive education, either local or abroad, in Biblical studies, theology, religious education, moral, justice and peace, liturgy and pastoral subjects; to help with school/course fees and/or living expenses. All lay Catholics are eligible. In addition to completing an application form, applicants must submit references from two individuals, one of whom should be a priest or religious sister, and all applicants must be interviewed.
For the year 2000 the Fund awarded five overseas scholarships. Two men and one woman, all staff members of the Diocesan Office for Laity Formation at the Pastoral Centre in Hong Kong, participated in a short-term evangelization course which was organized by the Institute for Pastoral Development. Currently, a married couple are enrolled in the Master of Theological studies program at John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, DC.