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
NACPA Conducts Study of Lay Ecclesial Ministry for the Archdiocese of Seattle
At the invitation of Archbishop Alex Brunett, the National Association for Church Personnel Administration recently conducted a study of lay ecclesial ministry within the archdiocese of Seattle. NACPA reported that in the 2000-2001 pastoral year, almost 1,700 individuals were employed in parishes, including priests and permanent deacons. Using the description of lay ecclesial ministers in The State of the Questions almost 1/3 of those working in parishes were identified as lay ecclesial ministers, with the remaining lay employees working in other staff positions. Most (77%) of lay ecclesial ministers in parishes were women, and a majority of both male and female lay ecclesial ministers were employed full-time. Their job titles included Pastoral Associate, Pastoral Assistant for Faith Formation, Pastoral Assistant for Liturgy, and Pastoral Assistant for Administration. The report also noted that in the same year there were 1,635 Catholic school teachers, over 85% of whom were full-time.
The study found that the title, lay ecclesial minister, was not "commonly used or understood by ordained and lay ministers in the Archdiocese", that lay ecclesial ministers reported being "well supported by the personnel policies and procedures" of the Archdiocese, and that "some questions still exist regarding the 'appointment' of lay ecclesial ministers and lines of accountability."
The report concluded with twelve recommendations, grouped under ministerial identity, policies and programs, and vocations.
Further information: Mary Cross, 206-382-4835
Ministries: A Relational Approach, Edward P. Hahnenberg. New York, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2003. 264pp.
Bishops' Survey and Conversation with Theologians Are First Steps in Preparation of New Document
Since the approval during the June Assembly of work on a "foundational document" on lay ecclesial ministry, the Subcommittee has begun two initiatives designed to assist its work.
The first is a survey of all bishops, based on the tentative outline for the document, asking for suggestions, recommendations, and any other feedback pertinent to each area as well as additions to the outline. Responses from the bishops are due by August 15.
Secondly, the Subcommittee has set September 4 for a conversation with theologians. The purpose of the conversation is to reflect on the theological basis for the roles and responsibilities undertaken by lay ecclesial ministers within the life and mission of the Church. The goal is to help define the scope of what might be included in the theological (foundational) section of the document. Theologians who will be meeting with the Subcommittee are Sister Sara Butler, MSBT, Avery Cardinal Dulles, Father Richard Gabuzda, Dr. Edward Hahnenberg, Father James Massa, Dr. Christopher Ruddy, Father Francis Sullivan, SJ, and Sister Susan Wood, SCL. The conversation will be facilitated by Sister Br¡d Long, SSL, Chair of the Pastoral Studies Department of the Washington Theological Union, and Monsignor John Strynkowski, Director of the USCCB Office for Doctrine and Pastoral Practice.
Funding Received for Region II Consultation
The Subcommittee has received a grant from an anonymous foundation to support the Consultation on Lay Ecclesial Ministry for Region II, scheduled for October 28-29. Like the two previous consultations held in Region X and Region VII, this one will bring together bishops, pastors, and lay ecclesial ministers from the New York dioceses to reflect on the theological and practical realities involving the growing numbers of committee lay persons in full-time ministry in the dioceses and parishes. It will also provide an opportunity for dialogue with individuals preparing lay ecclesial ministers within the region. In addition, the consultation will aid the Subcommittee in gathering insights for the forthcoming foundational document.
Continuing the conversation begun at the 2001 Consultation in San Antonio, the Texas Catholic Conference has chosen lay ecclesial ministry as the theme for their September 22-23 general assembly.
From Our Tradition . . .
Each Vocation Is a Vocation of Service and Should Support and Sustain the Others
Every vocation is a vocation of service. We truly find our identity, mission and dignity in the Church when we imitate Christ, who came as one who serves. Vocations in the life of the Church are not about "empowerment," "ownership" or "entitlement" but rather about embracing Jesus, "who emptied himself and took the condition of a slave" (Phil. 1:2).
Many members of the laity also extend the bishop's ministry to the church by serving as teachers, catechists, administrators, social workers and so many other roles.
The various vocations in the church should not compete with one another but rather support and sustain one another. For example, the involvement of the laity should not and does not depend on diminishing the role of bishops, priests, and deacons. Indeed, holy and well-functioning priests and deacons have as their mission in life to bear witness to the Gospel so as to draw lay men and women into the redeeming love of Christ and help them participate in the holiness and mission of the church. Similarly, lay women and men help bishops and priests and deacons to be who they are to have deep integrity and holiness of life in the faithful exercise of their ministry. A healthy laity should want strong bishops, priests and deacons and work hard to encourage vocations to priesthood and religious life. A healthy episcopate, priesthood and deaconate should seek to engender enduring holiness and active participation among the laity in the life of the church.
Bishop William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport, "One Family in Faith: What a Diocese Is," Origins, (April 24, 2003)
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Research Published on Presbyterian Commissioned Lay Pastors
Research Services of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has published a "first comprehensive look" at the more than 500 individuals who serve the church as Commissioned Lay Pastors ("CLPs"). The survey was initiated in the spring of 1997; questionnaires were returned by 81% of the CLPs.
Close to one-half (48%) serve a specific congregation or group of congregations. Another third (35%) itinerate more widely throughout their presbyteries, serving as pulpit supply in various congregations. Nine percent serve in other church programs (e.g. campus ministry) and 9%await a new or initial commission.
CLPs do not often switch presbyteries: 97% are serving in the presbytery where they were originally commissioned.
Although only 12% of CLPs consider their ministry full-time, 25% of parish CLPs and 64% of supply CLPs report spending more than 30 or more hours per week in their ministry.
Most (74%) parish CLPs report receiving a salary for their service to the church. Fringe benefits include travel allowances, continuing education allowances and housing allowances. Almost one half (49%) of all CLPs are covered by both health insurance and a pension plan.
The majority of family income for most CLPs comes from sources other than their church work. Over four in ten (41%) hold a non-parish job they consider to be full-time; 39% are retired.
The median size of congregations served by parish CLPs is 60 members; 40% serve congregations with fewer than 50 members.
Further information: Jack Marcum, Research Services, 888-728-7228X2040
From Around the World. . .
English and Welsh Bishops Urged to Increase Support for Lay Formation
An editorial and two articles in the June 28 2003 issue of The Tablet addressed the issue of funding for lay persons preparing for pastoral ministry. The editorial notes that the bishops "have begun to recognize that they must do more to encourage lay ministry." It applauds their view that "the best proving ground for lay ministry is in the parishes themselves [ensuring] that those going forward for further training have the trust and confidence of their fellow parishioners."
An unsigned news report in the same issue indicates that Canon Peter Humfrey, National Advisor for Religious Education and Catechesis at the Catholic Education Service is seeking accreditation for certain courses "so that they can attract government funding." The courses would be on three levels: Level I would give people a basic understanding of the Church using material provided by the RCIA; Level 2 would provide training on ministry and Level 3 "an access course for students who wished to study for a degree."
The editorial comments that while such funding might be helpful, "a fully trained lay minister is best equipped with a degree or its equivalent. "
In her article, Dr. Clare Watkins, a systematic theologian and vice-principal of the Margaret Beaufort Institute which is committed to the theological education of women, notes that the bishops have decided to leave the seminary system as it is and urges them to give real financial as well as moral support to the education and training of laity.
The editorial concludes "The shoots of lay ministry are surprisingly green. They need nourishment."
The Tablet, 28 June 2003, pp 1,13-14, 35.