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
Jubilee Day Resource Packets and Media Packets Distributed
In preparation for the Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers (November 26,2000) resource packets were distributed to every diocese in July. The 18 page packets contain a message of gratitude and affirmation to lay ministers from the bishop chairs of the NCCB Committees on Consecrated Life, the Diaconate, the Laity, and Priestly Life and Ministry, and the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry. The packets also contain ideas for celebrating the jubilee day, factoids about lay ministry, prayers and prayer services, and resources for further study. Several dioceses have already ordered copies to distribute to their parishes.
Funded by a grant from the Koch Foundation, media packets for the jubilee day will be distributed before the end of August to the bishops, diocesan directors of communication, Catholic press, and religion reporters in secular media outlets. The packets contain camera ready copy of 13 articles which feature lay ecclesial ministry in general, its preparation, acceptance and support and individual lay ecclesial ministers representing a cross section of ministries and geographic locations.
Both packets are available on the Web: www.nccbuscc.org/laity/layministry. Additional print copies are available from the address given above.
Lay Ecclesial Ministry To Be Theme of November New Theology Review
The November 2000 issue of New Theology Review will have lay ecclesial ministry as its theme. Major articles in the issue are by Dr. Zeni Fox of Seton Hall University and advisor to the Subcommittee who focuses on the lay ministers' sense of vocation; Dr. Bríd Long, SSL of Washington Theological Union who discusses the formation processes and suggests a useful agenda for the advancement of the new generation of ministers; and Dr. Audrey Brosnan of Catholic Theological Union who examines the often difficult discernment process which lay people experience in deciding about commitment to lay ecclesial ministry.
Copies of the issue will be available for $8 from The Liturgical Press of St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN (1-800-858-5450)
Chicago Initiates New Collaborative Program for Lay Ministry Preparation
Acting on its responsibility for the formation of ministers, the Archdiocese of Chicago is collaborating with area Catholic institutions of higher learning in the academic and spiritual formation of future ministers, especially Pastoral Associates. This collaboration combines academic study at the schools that meet the requirements of the designated core curriculum and participation in the formation program offered by the archdiocese.
The Archdiocese will call and screen candidates, direct their formation, and finally, commission them for service within parishes of the Archdiocese. The program, called Together in God's Service, has been created to give greater attention and support to the vocation of lay ecclesial ministry in the archdiocese.
The goals of the program are to offer participants opportunities to
- deepen personal spirituality
- grow within a supportive faith community of peers
- discern the call to Lay Ecclesial Ministry
- develop ministerial identity as Archdiocesan candidates
- experience a common foundational theology with priest and deacon candidates.
Interest free loans, based on need, that cover one-third of the cost of each course taken, up to a maximum of $3000 per year will be available. With an additional one-third waived by the theological school, the student assumes the remaining one-third of the cost. Participants will enter into a covenant to work within the Archdiocese after completion of their studies. For each year of service offered, the loan amount is reduced by $3000.
The Archdiocesan formation program, which complements but is not replaced by the formation offerings of the theological schools, has as its objectives
- introduction to archdiocesan structure and mission; vocation and lay ministry
- introduction to personal and liturgical prayer forms
- development of theological reflection skills
- working knowledge of the archdiocese
- interaction with other ecclesial ministry candidates.
Further Information: Graziano Marcheschi 847-837-4550
From Our Tradition . . .
The Church Is Endowed with Many Gifts, Ministries, and Offices
It has taken the shortage of priestly and religious vocations to awaken in us an appreciation of a broadly based shared ministry and a realization that it is in the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ to be endowed with many gifts, ministries and offices. What some refer to as a "vocations crisis" is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God's deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of the gifts and energy in the Body of Christ. This is a time of great challenge and opportunity in the Church, not least of all because the gifts of the lay faithful have been flourishing in unprecedented numbers and in unforeseen ways. ...
This is a moment of grace, a time in history when we, clergy, religious and laity are called to recognize the rich opportunities that are ours for the service of Christ and his Church. We are gifted by God to respond to the challenges that await us. We have no reason to fear, but an abundance of reasons to live in hope and confidence.
Cardinal Roger Mahoney and the Priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, "As I Have Done for You: A Pastoral Letter on Ministry," Origins, May 4, 2000.
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Methodist Laity Address Focuses on Lay/Clergy Partnership
Delivering the sixth state of the laity message to this year's United Methodist Church General Conference, Jim Nibbelink of Milford, Ohio focused on partnership between laity and clergy.
He cited fear and lack of vision as inhibitors to vital ministry and then provided three characteristics of a successful partnership: respect, responsibility, and risk.
Nibbelink stated that "respect is foremost in a thriving relationship and trust is the key factor in respect." Respect means each person providing input and advice, clarifying differences, and seeking common ground.
Responsibility means that each person shares an appropriate portion of the task. Nibbelink said that the leader will sometimes be the follower and the follower will be the leader, depending on what is required to complete a project. Responsibility also means that partners take responsibility to seek new skills, new insights and new methods and "being willing to hold others in the congregation responsible in their own right for some aspect of the ministry."
On the characteristic of risk, Nibbelink said it is required for a successful partnership and "both pastors and leaders within the laity must be willing to rock the boat if the situation calls for it....Those who do not risk are those who do not dream. Partners in God's work do not sit by waiting for answers; they step out in faith."
From Around the World . . .
Canadian Dioceses Inaugurate Joint Lay Pastoral Leadership Program
In September, seventeen students from 12 dioceses across western and northern Canada will begin a jointly sponsored program which will lead to a Master of Divinity degree from Newman Theological College in Edmondton, Alberta. The program, which has an expected graduation in December 2003, will include four semesters off campus doing distance education courses and local field education. Other components will include workshops on ministry and spirituality issues. Each of the students was recommended, chosen, and screened by her/his home diocese.
A grant from the Lilly Endowment provides tuition, books and living allowance for on-campus blocks. The dioceses are responsible for the travel expenses to and from Newman Theological College. They are also asked to provide a mentor and lay support group for each candidate.
To launch the program, a symposium was held in Edmonton at the end of February, 2000 with representatives from all 18 dioceses participating. (All of the participants had been asked to read Lay Ecclesial Ministry: the State of the Questions as preparation.) Dr. Leonard Doohan of Gonzaga University in Spokane gave the keynote address, citing some of the research done for the NCCB Subcommittee Prince George Bishop Gerald Wiesner, omi, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on the interrelationship and interdependence of the priesthood of the baptized and of the ordained. He also highlighted the role of women in lay ministry and the need to assure their place and presence in the future vision of church leadership. The flourishing of lay ministry was seen as essential to the healthy survival of the future church.
Edmonton Archbishop Thomas Collins spoke on the scriptural basis for lay ministry, pointing out that the experience of church leadership in the New Testament era was quite different from our contemporary situation, but that the motives for ministry can be measured against the biblical understanding of discipleship.
The symposium concluded with a panel discussion of lay ministers from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the North. The panel focused on the various roles and functions being carried out by laity in the Church and the importance of preparation for that ministry.
One of the goals for the pilot project is that it will raise awareness among bishops, clergy, and laity about the value of professionally prepared lay men and women working in the Church of the twenty-first century.
Further information: Dr. Adela Torchia, 780-447-2993