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:
Lay Ministry Project Coordinator
NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth
3211 4th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
Study of the Spiritual Formation of Lay Ecclesial Ministers Begins
The spiritual formation of lay ecclesial ministers was one of the top priorities that emerged in the bishops responses to the Subcommittee report in November, 1999. With the support of a grant from an anonymous foundation, a study has begun with plans for a consultation of leaders responsible for spiritual formation in both diocesan and graduate programs. Scheduled to meet in Chicago in late October, those leaders have been asked to reflect on NCCB documents on the faith formation of adults and the formation of priests and deacons. During the consultation they will be discussing such questions as: what is a spirituality proper to lay ecclesial ministers? What are the most important elements of spiritual formation for lay ecclesial ministers? What constitutes a program of spiritual formation for lay ecclesial ministers?
The study will continue with a survey of the current practices used by diocesan and graduate ministry formation programs in the spiritual preparation of lay ecclesial ministers. The outcome of the study is planned as the publication of a resource that will contain an essay on spiritual formation, its meaning, goals, programmatic aspects and that will highlight some of the current practices.
NACPA Publishes First Resource Catalog
For the first time, the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators has compiled a complete listing of all its available publications, surveys, consultations, and workshops. The intent of the 24 page catalog is to provide a quick and easy reference guide for those who are looking for assistance with their personnel needs. Besides the print copy, the material is available on NACPA's website: www.nacpa.org. Further information is available from 513-421-3134 or email@example.com.
Preparations in Place for Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers
Together in God's Service will be the theme of many parish and diocesan celebrations of the Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers (November 26). Over 5,900 copies of the resource packet have been distributed, with at least 20 dioceses ordering sufficient quantities to send one to every parish.
The National Association of Pastoral Musicians, which in the past has provided suggestions for a service to honor pastoral musicians on or near the Memorial of St. Cecilia, this year has encouraged its members to use the occasion of the Jubilee Day "to celebrate the dedicated service of pastoral musicians." The association also suggested a prayer for church musicians and artists, taken from The Book of Common Prayer (p. 819), which might be incorporated into the prayer services of the resource packet.
The diocese of Orlando has already distributed the packet to every parish, encouraging participation in a diocesan-wide celebration of the Jubilee Day, at the Shrine of Mary Queen of the Universe with Bishop Dorsey presiding. Invitations have been sent to all parishes, apostolic movements and third orders. Parishes have been asked to prepare for the celebration by holding dialogues on ministry in the church and the world.
The archdiocese of Seattle, which also sent a copy of the resource packet to every parish and faith community inviting local celebrations, will focus its gathering on the leadership of lay organizations. On November 11, Archbishop Brunett will preside at a Mass at St. James Cathedral to which representatives of 80 lay organizations have been invited. The gathering will be "an opportunity to acknowledge the important evangelizing work that lay organizations have undertaken in the name of the Church."
Many dioceses, because of on-going activities or even the possibility of "jubilee fatigue," are not planning diocesan-wide celebrations. In the Archdiocese of Newark the resource packets were distributed to every parish with a letter from Archbishop McCarrick encouraging parish celebrations of the Jubilee Day. Several diocesan newspapers will be featuring lay ministry in their late November editions. At least two dioceses will be using the electronic media to call attention to the jubilee day. In Albany, for example, where the packets were distributed to every parish "as a help -- not another burden, nor an expectation," prayers for lay ministers will be included in the TV Mass for shut-in's which will be aired in the diocese on November 26. The diocese of Youngstown, which also distributed packets to every parish, will be the sponsors for the day on their local National Public Radio station on November 26, enabling them to broadcast several messages throughout the day affirming the gifts of the lay ministers in their parishes and institutions.
From Our Tradition . . .
From A Message to Lay Ministers for the Jubilee Day
The term "lay ecclesial minister" is one whose precise definition and parameters are still evolving - as is the reality. We are quite clear, however, that your contribution to the Church's mission is a gift to the Church, a gift that we welcomed twenty years ago and that has only grown more significant as your numbers have increased.
While no listing can exhaust the ways in which you serve, we know that you minister as directors of religious education, liturgy, and of music; as school principals, youth ministers, pastoral associates and parish business administrators; and as hospital, campus, seaport, and airport chaplains. You staff our diocesan offices and agencies. All of these ministries in the Church require specialized and extensive preparation, preparation that you often finance from your own resources. Your ministries are often most needed in hours that overlap with precious family time, and our gratitude extends to your families for the support and encouragement that give you for this ministry. Without your generous and loyal "work of faith and labor of love"[1 Thessalonians, 1 : 2-5], the mission of the Church would be diminished. With it, the Church in our country has flourished.
Most Reverend Joseph P. Delaney, Chairman, Subcommittee on Lay Ministry; Most Reverend Joseph J. Gerry, Chairman Committee on Consecrated Life; Most Reverend Richard C. Hanifen, Chairman, Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry; Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas, Chairman, Committee on the Diaconate; Most Reverend John J. McRaith, Chairman, Committee on the Laity
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Wesley Theological Seminary Opens Certificate Program for Lay Leaders
The first lay ministry certificate program in the US United Methodist Church began in September at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. The vision statement for the seminary says: "While many of our students pursue ordination, preparing people for the ordained ministry only partially fulfills the needs of the church today. Every baptized person is called to ministry, and Wesley acknowledged the vocation and vitality of the laity, who have an increasing role in the mission and ministry of the church."
According to Susan Willhauck, who coordinates basic graduate theological studies and certification programs at the seminary, 90% of the students are already involved in some kind of ministry in their local churches. "The model," Dr. Willhauck observed, "has been to hire someone with a background in education of social service, and then help them acquire the theological background for church ministry." Faced with a clergy shortage, local churches are increasingly turning to laity to take roles of leadership. While certification is not required for employment, it is highly recommended.
The ecumenical program has attracted a group of students very diverse in ethnicity, age, and background, and has a mix of men and women students. Some of those taking the program for credit already have undergraduate degrees; some are exploring the possibility of preparing for ordination; others are clearly preparing for lay ministry.
All students are required to take three two-credit courses: Biblical Foundations for Ministry; Theology for the Practice of Ministry; and Spiritual Formation in the Christian Tradition. In addition, students are required to complete three two-credit courses in a specialized track. Tracks currently offered are Christian Education, Congregational Care, Congregational Development, Hispanic/Latino Evangelism, Older Adult Ministry, Parish Nursing, Small Group Bible Study Leadership, Youth Ministry, and General Leadership. Future tracks may include evangelism and mission, Baptist studies, music and worship, and spiritual formation.
Although the spiritual formation of the prospective lay ministers is not programmatically addressed, the students do worship together and some students have begun to establish covenant/discipleship groups which meet for prayer and mutual accountability, based on the Wesleyan class meeting model.
Further information: Susan Willhauck, 202-885-6482
From Around the World...
Lay Ministry Program Enrollments Increase in Canada
When St. Francis Xavier University began offering a diploma in ministry program in 1996 there were fewer than 40 students enrolled. Last year there were about 150 students. Since its beginning, the program has grown into a national distance education and home-study program that is incorporated as part of the newly established School of Lay Ministry.
Study topics include ministry, scripture, adult religious education, the sacraments, contemporary Catholic issues, and parish nursing.
Bishop Colin Campbell, the bishop of Antigonish, has said that the diploma in ministry program has been a leader in forming lay people to be involved in the pastoral ministry of their dioceses. "This program which is distance education has served the church all over the country," he said. "It has already been an enormous blessing to many dioceses."
Catholic New Times, June 11, 2000.
Chicago Studies Issue Features the Mission of the Laity in the World
The Spring 2000 Issue of Chicago Studies includes six articles on the mission of the laity in the world. Among them are "Participation by Laity in Church Life and Mission" by H. Richard McCord (Director of the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth); "Toward a Pneumatology of Lay Ministry," by John C. Haughey, S.J.; and "The Parish in the New Millennium: New People, New Catholics, New Ministers," by John E. Linnan, csv.
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