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
Spanish Edition of Lay Ecclesial Ministry: The State of the Questions to be Published
With the assistance of the Diocese of San Bernardino, José J. Ramirez, Director of Pastoral Formation Programs of the Archdiocese of Seattle, and Rosalva Castañeda, Program Specialist of the USCCB Office for Hispanic Affairs, a Spanish edition of the Lay Ministry Subcommittee report, Lay Ecclesial Ministry: The State of the Questions will be available from the USCCB Office of Publications in mid- September.
The 80 page report, formatted similarly to the English edition, will be publication #5-864. The cost is $5.95, with discounts for multiple copies. Orders can be placed at 1-800-235-8722.
Region X Consultation on Lay Ecclesial Ministry Planned
Thirteen bishops from Region X (Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma) will be meeting with pastors, lay ecclesial ministers, graduate program directors, and theologians in San Antonio on October 1-2 to reflect on the theological and practical realities involved in the growing number of committed lay persons in full-time ministry in the parishes and dioceses of the region. Joining the group will be subcommittee advisors and staff as well as representatives from NALM, the National Association for Lay Ministry. The two-day dialogue will be facilitated by Monsignor Philip Murnion of the Pastoral Life Center who also serves as an advisor to the Subcommittee.
In preparation for the consultation, the bishops are preparing reports on the present use of lay ministers, the strengths and weaknesses of the present arrangements, and their hopes and concerns for the future.
The subcommittee anticipates that it will be sponsoring similar dialogues in other regions of the country.
Results of Spiritual Formation Study Viewed as Positive by Subcommittee
At their June meeting, the bishops and advisors of the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry received the report of a Spiritual Formation Study which had been completed for them by CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate). The Subcommittee saw the report as quite positive, "indicating that spiritual formation is being taken very seriously by the programs that are preparing our future lay ecclesial ministers." Funded by a grant from an anonymous foundation, the study surveyed the directors of diocesan and graduate programs on the spiritual characteristics desirable in a lay ecclesial minister and the elements of their programs that address the development of such characteristics.
Of the 323 programs in CARA's database of ministry formation programs, 207 directors responded, a response rate of 64 percent. All of the programs address the spiritual formation of the lay ecclesial minister. Seventy-one percent of all the responding programs have a separate, formal, spiritual formation component. According to the directors lay people come to the programs with a strong commitment to the person of Jesus Christ, a desire to serve others, a high level of commitment to the Catholic Church, and a sense of personal call. When the programs conclude, the greatest differences are seen in the students' ability to articulate faith experiences, sense of community, mission and discipleship, sensitivity to diverse expressions of faith, and ability to reflect theologically.
In October, the Subcommittee will be convening a group of program directors to discuss the report, probing its meanings and implications.
The report is on the Web: www.usccb.org/laity/laymin/index.shtml and available by calling 202-541-3001.
Financial Aid Survey Due
Many dioceses and graduate institutions have already returned the survey of financial aid for prospective lay ecclesial ministers, but it is not too late to be included.
Responses received by October 1 can be included. If additional copies of the survey instrument are needed, please call 202-541-3001.
From Our Tradition . . .
Bishop Needs to Promote the Various Ministries ....
Besides the presbyterate and the diaconate, the Church also exercises her mission through additional instituted ministries and other tasks and offices. Because of their great number, the Bishop needs to promote the various ministries with which the Church is prepared to accomplish every good work. Such ministries can be entrusted to both consecrated persons and the lay faithful, as a result of the common vocation and mission inherent in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and the particular talents which each joyously puts at the service of the Gospel.
Consequently, the three-fold office of service in the Church is linked to the three-fold dignity of the baptized in the People of God: from the prophetic office flows evangelization and a catechesis nourished in listening to the Word; from the priestly office comes the ministries connected with the liturgy as well as the spiritual worship of daily life and prayer so as to make life a gift and an act of adoration in spirit and truth; from the kingly office proceeds all ministries at the service of the Kingdom of God in the world, the structures of society, the family and the workplace, which are expressed in all forms of charity, social action and the sound and committed "charity in civil life."
If communion is truly at work in everyone, the power of charity in the Trinity will be manifested and fruitful, and the mutual act of communion will cause hope to be renewed.
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Numbers of Commissioned Lay Pastors Grow in Presbyterian Church USA
In 1995, the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA)changed the position of Commissioned Lay Preachers, established ten years earlier, to that of Commissioned Lay Pastors as their functions were expanded to include presiding at baptisms and marriages. Commissioned Lay Pastors (CLP's) are elders who are trained and commissioned by the presbytery (diocese) to provide pastoral services to a particular church or churches. (The church maintains a distinction between those who are trained and those who are commissioned.) The numbers of CLP's continue to grow, according to Zane Buxton at PCUSA. The work of a CLP varies from presbytery to presbytery, with some serving as part-time pastors of small churches, some with clusters of parishes as part of ministry teams, others with new immigrant populations and still others with redeveloping churches.
Each presbytery decides what to authorize for each CLP for each commission. The authorization is only for the particular church or churches to which the CLP is commissioned. A commission may be for as long as three years and then must be either renewed or terminated.
The preparation requirements for CLP's are also determined by each presbytery. Options currently in use range from enrollment in courses at theological institutions to individual tutoring by ministers. Some presbyteries involve the PCUSA Commission on Ministry in examining CLP trainees prior to commissioning. The Commission on Ministry reviews the work of the CLP regularly (especially before recommissioning) in consultation with the session of the church served.
From Around the World. . .
Brazilian Bishops Identify Types of Ministries, Lay and Ordained
In the theological and pastoral reflection, the following ministry groups have been identified: a) ministries that are simply recognized (at times improperly called "de facto"), when they are related to a significant service to the community but without the classification of permanent since they could disappear according to their varying circumstances: b) ministries that are entrusted, when they are conferred to a person either through a simple liturgical sign or in a canonical way; c) ministries which are instituted, when their function is conferred by the Church through a liturgical rite called "institution"; ministries which are ordained (also called apostolic or pastoral), when the charism is at the same time recognized or conferred to its bearer through a specific sacrament, that of Holy Orders, which aims to constitute ministers in the unity of the Church in faith and in charity so that the Church maintains herself in the apostles' tradition and through them, faithful to Jesus, to his Gospel and mission. The ordained ministry is an ecclesiology in its totality and in a totally ministerial Church it does not hold the monopoly of the ministeriality of the Church. We can say that it is not the "synthesis of the ministries" but "the ministry of the synthesis." Its specific charism is that of presiding over the community and, therefore, of the animation, coordination, and - with the indispensable adult and active participation of the entire community - of the discernment of the charisms. As fruit of a gift from the Spirit-the protagonist of the mission-which is recognized and is powerfully communicated in the sacramental act of ordination, the ordained minister is at the service of that very Spirit which should always be welcomed and recognized anew in the Church and in the world at the service of Christ, Servant and Head of the Church. The recognized, entrusted, and instituted ministries - taken as a whole - form the non-ordained ministries, that is, those which do not call for ordination.
Misión y Ministerios de los Cristianos Laicos, #87, Conferencia Nacional de Obispos del Brasil. (Unofficial English translation from their official Spanish edition)