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
Minnesota Dioceses Collaborate in Certification Process
The six dioceses of Minnesota have been working together for the past seven years to establish a common process for certifying lay ecclesial ministers through the Minnesota Catholic Education Association (MCEA). The intent of the process is to enable each bishop to certify lay ecclesial ministers in his diocese by using a common statewide process. In December 2003, the bishops of the arch/dioceses approved the handbook outlining the state-wide certification process for lay ecclesial ministers serving as youth ministry and catechetical leaders. In March 2004, the USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation approved the certification handbook and procedures. Saint John’s School of Theology-Seminary in Collegeville worked with the MCEA to obtain a grant from the Lilly Endowment to assist the dioceses and Catholic colleges and universities in Minnesota in implementing the procedures.
Among the goals established for the process are the following:
- The dioceses will develop tools and methods for assessment and documentation of ministerial competence.
- The process will promote an environment of ongoing learning for lay ecclesial ministers and enable a partnership with colleges and universities in continuing formation and education for all in ministry.
- Participating dioceses will certify the competence of lay ecclesial ministers through the MCEA certification process and thereby formalize their relationship with these ministers.
Revisions and Consultations on Draft Document Continue
By early September thirty-six bishops had responded to a consultation on the theological- doctrinal part of the proposed document on lay ecclesial ministry. A number of their suggestions have been incorporated into an October 2004 draft and the remaining suggestions will be considered by the Subcommittee at its December 15 meeting.
The October 2004 draft which includes both the revised theological-doctrinal part and the practical applications part (which is subdivided into pathways, formation, authorization and ministerial workplace sections,) has been distributed for consultation. Among those who have been invited to participate in this consultation are thirty-one professional ministerial associations, the forty-five individuals who participated in the 2003-04 focused consultation which the Subcommittee held, seminary rectors, and the members, consultors, advisors, and staff of the related USCCB Committees (Diaconate, Doctrine, Laity, Pastoral Practices, Priestly Formation, Priestly Life and Ministry, and Vocations). In addition, USCCB staff for African American Catholics, Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Education, Hispanic Affairs, Home Missions, and Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees have been invited to participate in the consultation.
The present timeline for the Subcommittee calls for it to review the results of this consultation at its December 15 meeting and prepare another draft which will be distributed to all bishops by February 2005.
Lay Leaders of Worship: A Practical and Spiritual Guide by Kathleen Hope Brown, D.M. (Liturgical Press, 2004) might be considered a companion to Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest (NCCB, 1994) and A Ritual for Lay Persons (Liturgical Press, 1993). It addresses such questions as: Who is the lay person who leads the community in prayer? What is that person’s relationship to the community? What skills or training should be required? What sort of spiritual formation is desirable? How can the parish or diocese help to promote that person’s ministerial identity?
Dr. Brown directs the Formation for Ministry Program at the Washington Theological Union.
From Our Tradition . . .
“The Profile of a Minister of Today for the Church of Tomorrow”
“Regarding the ministerial and ecclesial situation, while it is certain that vocations are on the increase in the Third World, it is also certain that the increase in vocations in countries that call themselves developed is quite small. Extensive regions are without ordained ministers, and a sole minister must attend to two or three parish communities. To this is added the aging of the ministers, which has called forth warnings from various bishops in Germany, Belgium and Canada, among other countries, where traditional parishes have remained without a pastor and the laity have begun to make themselves responsible for them. …
“The New Testament does not present to us a defined priestly structure, but it does show us a ministerial structure. Within the community there are diverse charisms that bring with them the exercise of various ministries on its behalf. What is important is not the structuring of the various services but the service itself. …
“Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, Chapter 2) has shown us the ecclesiology that must be at the base of our ministerial understanding. The church is understood as the people of God. The council therefore speaks about a communion of men and women who are directed toward a common Father; they recognize Jesus as their common Master, and they adopt as their first commandment the living of a life of love. ‘It is in the mystery of the church, as a mystery of Trinitarian communion in a missionary tension, where the whole of Christian identity is manifested, and thus also the specific identity of the priest and his ministry is also manifested.’ (Pastores Dabo Vobis,12) …
“This minister [the priest] must be a minister who does not separate ordained ministers from lay ministers. Both types of ministry complement each other and together build up the people of God. Consequently, being a minister cannot be reduced to the sacrament of orders because there are more ministries performed in the church than the ones performed by those in holy orders. If one were to reduce being a minister to the ordained ministries, he would be putting them in an ontological superiority over the rest of the faithful, who by baptism are also disciples of the Lord.”
Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, “Address for the 175th Anniversary of the Athenaeum of Ohio-Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati,OH.” Origins, Feb. 19, 2004, pp. 613-619.
From Around the World. . .
Sidney Priest Uses Lay-Centered Parish Strategy
Father John Dobson, parish priest of Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast (Australia), believes that the starting point for parish planning should be the Eucharist and the giftedness of the local community. He has used that strategy to develop and sustain eleven churches.
Speaking recently at a conference of the diocese of Sandhurst, Father Dobson said the initiating point for action was the community rather than the priest. It was a model that maximizes lay leadership and places the priesthood in much clearer focus, with the priest not having to concentrate on such areas as administration.
“These churches with an active lay leadership,” according to Father Dobson, “have their own pastoral infrastructure with their own mission and outreach. We are using a model that journeys from a temple model of Church to an upper room model of Church. This planning model does not begin with structure and organization, but rather as Paul did at Corinth, builds the community on the giftedness of the people in the community. Paul could then tell the Corinthian people: ‘you are many parts that make up the whole body that is Christ.’”
Father Dobson noted that the significance and effectiveness of the strategy was that its starting point was the Eucharist and the local community, and that it then moved to energize local communities to become more responsible for their being Church.” http://wwwindcatholicnews.com/austral.htm 7 July 2004.
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Presbyterians and Episcopalians Plan Conference on New Forms
The Association of Presbyterian Tentmakers and the National Association for the Self-Supporting Active Ministry Episcopalians have scheduled an October 29-31 Conference in Raleigh, NC on what new forms of ministry are teaching the church.
The emerging forms include tentmaking pastors, industrial chaplains, ministers in secular employment, commissioned lay pastors, bi-vocational ministers and working priests.
The theme of the conference is Holding it Together (the world of faith and church with the world of work and marketplace). Further information from Rev. David Vellenga, firstname.lastname@example.org.