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
1999-2002 Subcommittee Completes Term
At their meeting on November 10, the members and advisors of the 1999-2002 Subcommittee on Lay Ministry addressed several agenda items which they had initiated, some of which were completed, but many of which will be material for the work of the next Subcommittee. They received the report of the Region VII Consultation and approved initial plans for a Consultation in Region II (New York State) in October 2003.
The Subcommittee also continued the beginning work on a proposed document on the preparation of lay ecclesial ministers by refining final plans for a consultation with seminary rectors and theology school administrators and revising and affirming points of agreement about the proposed document which will be given to the new Subcommittee.
Bishop John McRaith, chair of the 1999-2002 Committee on the Laity, expressed his gratitude and the gratitude of the committee to the members and advisors of the Subcommittee.
Bishop Dale Melczek, chair of the 2002-2005 Committee on the Laity has asked Bishop Gerald Kicanas to chair the new Subcommittee on Lay Ministry. That Subcommittee has scheduled a meeting for March 13.
New Resources Available
Since the last issue of Lay Ministry Update several new resources related to lay ecclesial ministry have been published. Among them are The Emergence of Lay Ecclesial Youth Ministry As a Profession, Charlotte McCorquodale, Ph D., National Federation of Youth Ministers (202-636-3825)
Ministry or Apostolate: What Should the Catholic Laity Be Doing?, Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor (800-348-2440)
New Ecclesial Ministry: Lay Professionals Serving the Church, a revised and expanded edition, Zeni Fox, Ph.D., Sheed and Ward, 2002 (800-266-5564)
Region VII Consultation on Lay Ecclesial Ministry Held at Mundelein
On October 7-8, 58 participants from Region VII (Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin) gathered at the Conference Center of St. Mary of the Lake University to dialogue about the theological and practical implications of the growing numbers of lay ecclesial ministers in the region. The participants included 15 bishops as well as pastors, lay ecclesial ministers, and representatives from 8 graduate schools in the region.
Monsignor Philip Murnion of the National Pastoral Life Center, who also serves as an advisor to the Subcommittee and facilitated the meeting, presented for discussion several assumptions which might undergird diocesan planning. He also presented for review and discussion a synthesis of the reports on lay ecclesial ministry within the various dioceses.
The participants then identified issues for further discussion. These were subsequently divided into five areas:1) Elements for a guide to the formation of lay ecclesial ministers, (2) Compensation–issues of adequacy and equality, with special attention to small and rural parishes, (3) Theological concerns, (4) Pastors – what help do they need to meet the emerging obligations related to lay ecclesial ministers, (5) Relationship of bishops with lay ecclesial ministers.
Cardinal George shared with the group the five-step framework for recognition of lay ecclesial ministers which is being used in Chicago for pastoral associates and directors of religious education. Other participants also shared research or projects that they had completed.
Dr. Zeni Fox, of Immaculate Conception Seminary/Seton Hall University, also a Subcommittee advisor, facilitated a dialogue among the participants and the representatives of the graduate schools during which there was opportunity for the schools to offer suggestions about the subcommittee's proposed document on the formation of lay ecclesial ministers.
At the concluding session, the participants met by roles. The bishops recognized the importance of continuing the dialogue in an intentional way and of researching the financial questions together. The pastors expressed hope for some consistency of titles. functions, compensation across dioceses. The lay ecclesial ministers suggested distinguishing among the several kinds of such ministers, each with specific training, formation and support needs. The educators recognized the challenges of preparing and forming candidates who are not sponsored by or connected to a diocese.
From Our Tradition . . .
Communio and Mission Central
One of the central insights of Vatican II was an understanding of the church as communio, allowing for the simultaneous expression of sacramental equality and hierarchical order. The diocesan priest is not a lone ranger but someone who works together with his brother priests, the religious, deacons and laity that make up the staff of his parish and serve with him in the diocese.
The images used by Vatican II to describe church are sheepfold, flock, a holy city, a spiritual building, a body, the vine. All speak of unity in diversity. Pope John Paul II emphasizes that in the body of the church you are part of me and I am part of you. You are gift to me and I am gift to you (Novo Millennio Ineuente, 43).
Some priests still see laity as needing to stay in their place. Some fear that the more lay ministry is emphasized, ordained ministry will diminish. That fear has never been demonstrated. I would rather emphasize that unless we grow together, nobody grows. Priests, religious, deacons and laity need to support one another, all the while keeping our eye on the mission.
Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas, "Vital Dimensions of Priesthood Accented by s Time of Crisis: Keynote Address to National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors," Origins, October 3, 2002, p. 282
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Lutherans Seeking Advice on Authorizing Lay Ministry
The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has asked it ministry and worship staff for a process to study and discuss issues related to authorized lay ministry and ordained ministry.
The discussion was prompted by resolutions from the church's Southwestern Synod and Allegheny Synod, asking the church for guidance on "lay presidency," allowing laity to preside at Holy Communion, especially in light of growing needs for alternative leadership in worship. The church's constitution allows laity to perform official church functions as long as a bishop authorizes them but practices vary among the 65 synods.
The issue is important for churches with small membership and few finances for ordained clergy. In 2001, there were 2,339 congregations in the ELCA with fewer than 50 at worship each week and 2, 456 congregations without a pastor. The numbers in each category have increased by over 20% since 1988 when the ECLA was formed.
Bishop Philip Hougen of the Southeastern Iowa Synod said that a churchwide policy on lay presidency has ecumenical implications. "The Episcopal Church is looking for us to be an ally in limiting lay presidency, " he said. "It is problematic for the Episcopal Church." Bishop Steven Ullestadt of the Northeastern Iowa Synod said, "This is not a congregational issue, it's a church issue. The office of ministry is given to the church, not to an individual." He said that the church needs flexible guidelines for authorized lay ministers that uphold the policies of the church.
Episcopal News Service, November 13, 2002
From Around the World. . .
Apostleship of the Sea Continues Leadership by Laity in England and Wales
Founded in Glasgow by a priest and two laymen, the Apostleship of the Sea has been ministering to seafarers for over 70 years. The great need for such ministry was emphasized by a recent report of the International Commission on Shipping which called life at sea "modern slavery." According to the report the crews on 10 to 15% of the world's ships suffer serious human rights abuses.
Noting that around one million seafarers on over 100,000 merchant ships visit the United Kingdom each year, AOS Director Chris York believes that seafarers remain the "forgotten members of our community."
Commercial pressures from economic globalization and unchecked competition have pushed freight rates down. The reason that two-thirds of all seafarers are Catholic is that "cheap labor" is obtained from very poor countries with a tradition of international seafaring, which happen to be mainly Catholic. Long absences from families and linguistic isolation can make it a very lonely experience.
As the industry has moved from being nationally based to internationally based, the needs of the seafarers have changed. At one time, the port chaplain was the local parish priest. Now, according to Director York, it is necessary to involve permanent, full-time people as well as volunteers.
Director York plans an outreach program to parishes to make people aware of the situation of the seafarer and to encourage their support. He notes that the parish priest can no longer do the ministry alone.
Briefing, 14 August 2002