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
CARA Statistical Overview Shows Decrease in Number of Lay Ministry Students
According to the Statistical Overview for 2001-2002 of Ministry Formation Enrollments published by the Center for Research in the Apostolate, the number of students in lay ministry formation programs dropped by 1100 since the preceding year when it was over 34,000. When the Directory was first published in 1986 by the USCCB, there were 10,500 persons enrolled in such programs. According to Dr. Mary Gautier, Senior Research Associate at CARA, the difference may be attributable to being more deliberate about which programs are included. Since CARA began publishing the directory in 1994, it has included only those programs that are at least two years in length and lead to a degree or certificate. There have been continuing efforts to distinguish more carefully between those programs which are designed for adult faith formation where the goal is primarily personal enrichment and those programs specifically designed to prepare lay persons for ministry, paid or volunteer.
The statistical overview also reports on the placement of lay ecclesial ministry program graduates. Many programs do not track their graduates and have no information about how many went on to lay ecclesial ministry positions. Of the 414 programs in the U.S., 115 programs reported that most of their graduates are in volunteer positions in catechetics or other parish ministry. Dr. Gautier also noted that she has observed a substantial increase in the numbers of students preparing for general parish ministry.
for Ministry Formation Directors
Chicago May 28-30
Financial Assistance Survey Available on Web
The report of the survey of financial assistance for lay persons preparing for lay ecclesial ministry is available on the web: www.usccb.org\laity\laymin\finasst.shtml. The report was distributed to all bishops and participating institutions in March. Additional copies are also available from the lay ministry office.
The survey indicated that last year over nine million dollars was awarded to those preparing for lay ecclesial ministry, $1.6 million from dioceses and $7.7 from graduate institutions. Financial assistance was available from 56% of the responding dioceses and 79% of the responding institutions.
Bishop Joseph Delaney of Fort Worth, who chairs the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry which was responsible for the survey, commented that the report is “good news, showing that lay ministry is becoming part of the institution of the Church.”
During the last few years, the topic of financial assistance for lay persons has been considered by diocesan leadership years in 62% of the responding dioceses. In their open-ended comments, most recognized the need for more financial assistance; many mentioned current initiatives; and several referenced the scarcity of financial resources. A number of dioceses noted that funding for the education of lay ministers is included within the goals of annual and capital campaigns. Several dioceses mentioned that funding for lay ministers was a priority set by diocesan synod or strategic planning.
National Association of Pastoral Musicians Awards Scholarships
Each year the National Association of Pastoral Musicians awards scholarships to assist with the costs of educational formation for pastoral musicians. The amounts vary from year to year; this year $17,000 will be available to NPM members enrolled full or part time in a graduate or undergraduate degree program of studies related to the field of pastoral music.
Chicago May 30-June 2
From Our Tradition . . .
A Discontinuous, Rather than Continuous, Dividing Line
“The unity of the Church is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities.” This leads us to “make room for all the gifts of the Spirit” (NMI 46.1) and, as a result:
- to “encourage all the baptized and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church’s life.” (46.1) For this to happen, it is necessary, in the Holy Father’s words, to “make room” for lay people by encouraging “a fruitful dialogue.” (45.1) This is also needed in the area of decision making, so their participation bears fruit and they feel themselves “citizens” of the Church. This is especially true for women without whose renewed contribution “the future of the new evangelization … is unthinkable.” (EiA 43.2)
- to be more aware that “together with the ordained ministry, other ministries, whether formally instituted or simply recognized, can flourish for the good of the whole community,” (NMI 46.1) “sustaining it in all its many needs :from catechesis to liturgy, from the education of the young to the widest array of charitable works.” (46.1) Here the Holy Father returns to a theme that has been set aside somewhat amidst the talk of “instituted ministries” (like those of lector and acolyte currently) and “recognized” ministries (and not only recognized “services”), providing a greater opening for a practice whose long history in Latin America dates back to the beginnings of evangelization. …
- to give priority to organizing “an extensive plan of vocational promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools and families.” (46.2) While this refers mainly to vocations to the priestly ministry and “consecrated life,” the Holy Father asks “the Christian community … to make room for all the gifts of the Spirit,” since the Church’s unity “is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities.” (46.1) To be “extensive,” this vocational plan must also include the vocation to the permanent deaconate, which is not specifically mentioned in NMI. (EiA 42)
- to “discover ever more fully the specific vocation of the laity, called ‘to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God’; they ‘have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world … by their work for the evangelization and the sanctification of people.’” (46.3) In this area, the work of communion is vital. It is difficult for us to respect their particular mission, and we tend to subordinate them to the hierarchy. It would help us to reflect again on the “people of God,” in which various vocations are interconnected. We must be aware that the separation among ordained ministers, those is consecrated life and lay people is a discontinuous, rather than continuous, dividing line. While all have their own vocations, there are many shared areas at the service of communion and evangelization.
The Pastoral Work of Communion in Novo Millennio Inuente, A Reflection offered by Monsignor Christian Precht Banados, Archdiocese of Santiago. (USCCB Publishing, 2002, pp. 8-9)
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
United Methodist Lay Leaders Emphasize Global Dimension of Church
More than 100 conference lay leaders, associate lay leaders, spouses and guests met in early March in Honolulu to discuss what it means to be a global church. The church has 65 annual conferences in the U. S. and 52 in Europe, Africa and the Philippines. Lay leaders are elected by each annual conference to promote lay ministry and develop lay leadership in partnership with the bishop and the clergy. The Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders seeks to strengthen the presence, voice and role of the laity in the church and in the world. The group’s primary goal is to assist the annual conference lay leaders in training, supporting and advocating for district and local church lay leaders.
Gloria Holt, of Trussville, AL, who was elected association president addressed the group calling the members to “begin to think and act globally by considering the global implications of our relationship with one another. … We must be willing to give up some of our power and positions and must truly be willing to join hands with one another to fulfill the mission of the church.”
She also said that each person must be engaged in partnerships and the laity must be empowered worldwide to be about the business of the church.
From Around the World. . .
English Bishop Outines Values for Encouraging Spirituality of Youth
Bishop John Crowley of Middlesbrough recently spoke to the teachers of his diocese about the “Spiritual Development of Our Pupils.” Quoting Archbishop Robert Runcie about the “God-shaped emptiness which nothing , either in heaven above or earth beneath, can fill except God alone,” Bishop Crowley identified modern omniscience, modern omnipotence and the individualist agenda as contemporary attempts to fill that emptiness.
Bishop Crowley then listed three key values for all those responsible for the encouraging spirituality within young people: the personal search for God; the challenge to be a witness of hope; the call to forgive. He urged the teachers to become “Men and women who submit themselves daily to the discipline of prayer.” He commented that “To be a ‘witness of hope’ is not to have all the answers, but it does stem from the profound conviction that the last and best word in human affairs belongs to God.” In exhorting the teachers to be people of forgiveness, Bishop Crowley said, “I sometimes think that being harsh and judgemental betray a person who cannot cope in the first place with their own inevitable times of failure and weakness.”
Briefing, 13 March 2002, pp. 15-18