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
New Subcommittee, from Related Committees, to Begin Work
The 2002-2005 Subcommittee on Lay Ministry will hold its first meeting on March 13. Bishop Dale Melczek , chair of the Laity Committee, appointed Bishop Gerald Kicanas (Tucson), who had served on the 1999-2002 Subcommittee, as chair.
Members of the new Subcommittee represent those USCCB Committees whose mandates are related to lay ecclesial ministry. Bishop Samuel Aquila (Fargo) also serves on the Diaconate Committee; Bishop Gregory Aymond (Austin) on the Subcommittee for the Fifth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation; Bishop John Kinney (St. Cloud) on the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee; Bishop William Lori (Bridgeport) on the Doctrine Committee; Bishop Arthur Tafoya (Pueblo) on the Vocations Committee; and Bishop John Wester (San Francisco) on the Pastoral Practices Committee.
Consultors to the new Subcommitttee will be Bishop Joseph Delaney, who served as chair of the '99 – '02 Subcommittee, Cardinal George and Archbishops Levada and Pilarczyk.
The Subcommittee expects to identify lay advisors at their first meeting.
|NALM Formation Directors' Institute|
Forming Ministers for a Multicultural Church
May 27 -29, Tampa, FL
NALM 27th Annual Conference
Lay Leadership: Weaving Justice and Peace Through Ministry
May 29 – June 1, Tampa, FL
Consultation on Preparation of Lay Ecclesial Ministers Brings Together Rectors, Administrators
On November 19, fifteen seminary rectors and theology school administrators met with Bishop Wcela and Subcommittee advisors and staff to share their experiences and suggestions for the preparation of lay ecclesial ministers. Sister Bríd Long, Chair of the Pastoral Studies Department at Washington Theological Union, which hosted the consultation, facilitated the dialogue. Participants included representatives from institutions in various parts of the country.
Among the challenges which the group identified were "ambiguous ecclesiologies" i.e. the absence of any clear definition of lay ecclesial ministers and the different educational expectations currently in place for priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers. The need on the part of institutions to support both the prospective priest and the prospective lay minister was also mentioned. There are occasional tensions, although several institutions reported successful efforts at integrated faith sharing, spiritual formation programs, etc.
Threaded throughout the dialogue were calls to look at the theology of call/discernment in the context of discernment. In the words of one theology school president, "We believe that the student has a vocation, that preparation is for leadership, that a collaborative spirit (lay and priestly formation together) is key, and that multicultural sensitivity must be pervasive." Participants noted that people from different cultures learn differently; institutions, therefore, must teach and assess differently.
Participants agreed that any document on preparation must address the human, spiritual, theological and ministerial components of formation, always mindful that the integration of these components is indispensable. They gave several suggestions for each of these components.
Participants also agreed that a bishops' document on preparation would be very helpful, noting that "without such a document, the phenomenon of lay ecclesial ministry will continue to be hostage to idiosyncratic ideas, in a kind of ecclesiastical limbo. Therefore, it must be a document of the bishops, not of a school or even a group of schools."
In their evaluations participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to talk with others about common issues, wished that the time had been longer, acknowledged that there is much to be done, and offered to assist the Subcommittee as it moves forward.
From Our Tradition . . .
Young People Called to … So Many Forms of Ministry
Dear young people, service is a completely natural vocation, because human beings are by nature servants, not being masters of their own lives and being, in their turn, in need of the service of others. Service shows that we are free from the intrusiveness of our ego. It shows that we have a responsibility to other people. And service is possible for everyone, through gestures that seem small, but which are, in reality, great if they are animated by a sincere love. True servants are humble and know how to be "useless" (cf. Lk 17:10). They do not seek egoistic benefits, but expend themselves for others, experiencing in the gift of themselves the joy of working for free.
Dear young people, I hope you can know how to listen to the voice of God calling you to service. This is the road that opens up so many forms of ministry for the benefit of the community: from the ordained ministry to various other instituted and recognized ministries, such as Catechesis, liturgical animation, education of young people and the various expressions of charity (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, 46). At the conclusion of the Great Jubilee, I reminded you that this is "the time for a new ‘creativity' in charity" (ibidem, 50). Young people, in a special way it is up to you to ensure that charity finds expression in all its spiritual and apostolic richness.
Pope John Paul II, Message for the 40th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 11th May 2003 – 4th Sunday of Easter, #4
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Seminary Plans for the Future Highlight Diversity, Laity, and Technology
The Trustees of the General Theological Seminary in New York recently approved new strategic initiatives consistent with their mission "to educate and form leaders for the church in a changing world." Disappointed that the national offices of the Episcopal Church will not be moving to the seminary campus, Dean Ward Ewing pointed to innovative programs for Hispanic/Latino students and a new MA program designed to attract and serve lay leaders in the church as well as programs for the continuing education of the clergy.
The Dean also cited the success of the seminary's first high-tech classroom and noted that the proposed new conference/education center would be central to the seminary's efforts to meet the demand for short-term, summer, and continuing education programs.
Episcopal News Service, February 13, 2003
From Around the World. . .
Bishops' Conference of England and Wales Establish Office for Vocation
In September 2002, the Bishops of England and Wales established a National Office for Vocation. According to Kevin Dring, the Director, the office is a response to the 1997 document New Vocations for a New Europe, published by several Roman congregations as the Final Document of the Congress on Vocations to the Priesthood and to Consecrated Life in Europe.
The document highlights the vacuum that currently exists in Europe in terms of a sense of "vocation" and "commitment." It recognizes that all work to promote particular vocations has to be firmly rooted within the holistic sense of the vocation of all the baptized.
The vision on which the new office is based is drawn from that document and includes the following:
- The nature of the Church is essentially vocational and all pastoral work must express this fact, seeking to build a stronger ‘culture of vocation,' and every member of the Church is thus a promoter of vocation.
- We all share in the common ‘call' to holiness through our Baptism, a call that is uniquely experienced by each individual and from which flows the particular vocations that make up the life of the Church.
- Even though we live in an age and culture that is profoundly mistrustful of commitment, especially when it is life-long, beneath the surface we can detect signs of real ‘hope': that people are actually searching for meaning and commitment; that young people are sincerely open to the deeper spiritual meaning of their lives; that new communities and movements (signs of new life) are growing and even flourishing within the Church.