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
Pastoral Coordinators/Pastoral Administrators to meet in West and Mid-West
Two meetings are planned for this spring which will bring together those serving as pastoral coordinators or pastoral administrators. The Mid-West Pastoral Administrators' Conference called "Creating the Church of Tomorrow" is scheduled for May 6-9 at the Siena Center in Racine, WI. Hosted by a planning committee from the Green Bay diocese, the program will feature presentations by a Sister, a Pastor, and a lay woman and man engaged in ministry. Convened first by Glenmary, lay pastoral coordinators/administrators in the mid-west have been meeting since the late 1980's. Last year there were approximately 70 persons at the gathering.
Further information from Sister Marlene Greatens, ANG, 920-732-7330, email@example.com.
The first Western Region Pastoral Coordinator/Pastoral Administrator is scheduled for the Carmelo Retreat House in Redlands, CA for May 13-16. According to Sister Louise Bond, SNJM of the San Bernardino diocese, there are at least 109 leaders in this position from 37 arch/dioceses west of Texas. (The research also revealed that there are "six titles used for the same position within the western region.'') The featured speaker in Redlands will be Jean Morris Trumbauer, an educator, consultant, and author of Sharing the Ministry: A Practical Guide for Transforming Volunteers into Ministers.
Further information from Sister Louise Bond, SNJM, 909-475-5342, firstname.lastname@example.org
Diocese, Theological School, and Religious Congregations Work Together to Advance Lay Ministry
The diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, the Glenmary Home Missions, the SC Ministry Foundation and the Washington Theological Union recently began a collaborative project designed to strengthen lay ministry. Directed by Dr. Bríd Long, SSL, Chair of the Pastoral Studies Department at WTU and funded partially by the Foundation, the project aims to improve ministry in a part of the country where Catholics are a small minority and share the unemployment and underemployment of their neighbors. Some of WTU's graduates are ordained Glenmary priests who minister in that part of the country. Glenmary funds positions for lay leaders in rural ministry, particularly for pastoral associates and lay pastoral coordinators. Such positions, however, require two years of experience in rural ministry. The project will make it possible for WTU to offer internship experiences to qualified students and graduates preparing for such ministry. It will also make it possible for those students to attend a summer program at WTU during their internship.
In addition, WTU faculty are going to the diocese to lead workshops for all ministers, lay and ordained, on such topics as preaching, scripture, theology of grace, faith formation, ecclesiology, community building, canon law for lay ministers, and pastoral administration. The project will also foster development of intercultural and ecumenical collaboration.
Further information from Dr. Bríd Long, SSL 202-541-5225, email@example.com.
New Resource on Certification Procedures for Dioceses
How to Design and Implement Diocesan Certification Procedures was recently published by the National Federation of Youth Ministers. The document, written by Sean Reynolds, archdiocesan director for youth ministry in Cincinnati, utilizes the NFCYM Competency-Based Standards for the Coordinator of Youth Ministry.
Available from NFCYM, 202-636-3825, firstname.lastname@example.org
From Our Tradition . . .
Search for New Models - A Daily Challenge
As the work of the Second Vatican Council unfolded in the mid-1960's, the image of the church as the people of God became a common metaphor in conversation and study. That notion suggested so many helpful aspects for understanding the church's nature, mission, and destiny. The litany of implications is lengthy: recognition of the fundamental grace of baptism uniting everyone in Christ, a shared mission to proclaim the good news of God's kingdom, a journey still to be made through history, a call rooted in the mystery of Israel's election, ongoing social and personal development and growth through life, humility in acknowledging not having all the answers, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and much more.
That image clearly encouraged every baptized Catholic to assume a shared responsibility for the church and its mission. Repeatedly the insight was translated into the reminder that "the church" is "us," not "them."
The shadow side of the metaphor, or the limp it introduced (since every analogy limps in presenting some aspect of the truth), was the possibility of forgetting the different functions each of us might be called to exercise within the church's mission to the larger world.
Collapsing all ministries into a single task shared by everyone without distinction runs the risk of ignoring the powerful description of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts as enumerated by St. Paul to the Corinthians (ICor. 12:4-12) and to the Romans (12:3-8) teaching, serving, administering, or whatever talent a person might possess.
It's probably good to keep that diversity in mind, and the training needed to exercise such gifts wisely and well, when we see some of the tensions within the church today. As Catholics we know the necessity of ordained ministry for some of the sacraments, and the value of certifying those called to preach and proclaim the Gospel. Here in the United States we are entering a time of crisis regarding the number of ordained priests available for that service to the life and faith of the baptized. Some obvious changes in discipline could address that part of the need easily, while other solutions are more problematic from a historical and theological perspective. Meanwhile, however, the collaboration of ordained and lay leadership and the search for new models of pastoral care for our parish communities are a daily challenge.
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Interfaith Study of Seminarians Cites Need for Improved Recruitment, Standards, and Salaries
A recently published study by the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish seminary students recommended that denominations work together to recruit more students and then pay them higher salaries. The 2,512 entering seminary students who responded to the survey are much older than students entering medical and law schools. Women make up about one-third of the entering student body, and as much as one-half in some religious sectors. Racial and ethnic representation is comparable to that in other professional schools, but African-Americans and Hispanics are significantly under represented compared with the general population.
A majority of the students make their decisions about theological study relatively late, after college graduation. Undergraduate campus activities and figures have less influence on their career choice than do involvements in congregational life, clergy in congregations and parishes, friends and spouses.
Students come to the theological schools in pursuit of numerous professional goals. Though 80% say that their goal is a "religious" professional occupation, fewer (60%) plan to be ordained, and ministry in a congregation or parish is the primary goal of less than one-third of the students. Other forms of ministry to groups and organizations, counseling and chaplaincy are also attractive, and more than a quarter of students are headed for teaching, social service, or administration.
The study concludes with several recommendations: schools and religious bodies should encourage more recent college graduates, offer special support to very able older students, support collaborative recruitment programs; religious organizations should encourage more respect for the profession of ministry by increasing compensation and other means; and theological schools should find ways to raise entrance and completion standards for seminary education.
From Around the World. . .
Scottish Archbishop Grasps the Nettle of Change
Archbishop Keith O' Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh recently said "Things have changed; the Church has changed and our archdiocese is grasping the nettle, thank God." His comment was in response to some accusations and some media coverage that questioned proposals "which outlined a more prominent role for lay ministers as the number of priests continues to fall." The Archbishop said that the reporting did little to help "the process of education" which had begun in the Archdiocese.