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: email@example.com
NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth
3211 4th Street, NE
Washington, DC 20017-1194
National Pastoral Life Center Begins New Research for Subcommittee
With funding from the Lilly Endowment, the Subcommittee on Lay Ministry has asked the National Pastoral Life Center to conduct a study of parish lay ministers in the United States. When it is completed in 2005, it will be the third such study, following New Parish Ministers in 1992 and Parishes and Parish Ministers in 1999. Both of these studies were done by the late Monsignor Philip Murnion. Dr. David De Lambo who worked with Monsignor Murnion on the first study and co-authored the second study, will direct this study along with Sister Sharon Euart, RSM, who was USCCB Associate General Secretary at the time of the earlier studies.
For this study, the NPLC has entered into a collaborative agreement with a consortium of national Catholic Organizations (National Association for Lay Ministry, Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development, National Association of Church Personnel Administrators, National Association of Diaconate Directors, National Catholic Young Adult Ministers Association, and the National Federation of Priests Councils). They are supporting the study with additional funding and will be using the results of the study in their Lilly funded study of “Emerging Models of Ministry.”
A random sample of parishes in about half the dioceses of the United States will be surveyed initially, with follow-up surveys of selected pastors and lay ministers from those parishes.
John Baptist de La Salle: The Spirituality of Christian Education, edited by Carl Koch, Jeffrey Calligan, FSC, and Jeffrey Gros, FSC. Paulist Press (800-218-1903) Intended to promote spirituality for the laity involved in the Church’s mission of education and to support a theology of vocation that situates the teacher as integral to the Church’s charisms.
Consultations on Formation Issues Develop Background for Subcommittee
In early January, Bishop Kicanas and Subcommittee advisors and staff met with ten individuals, all of whom have some role in the formation of lay ecclesial ministers. In addition to the pastor of a “merged” parish which has lay ecclesial ministers on staff, there were representatives of diocesan, undergraduate and graduate ministry formation programs.
Facilitated by Sister Bríd Long, SSL, Chair of the Pastoral Studies Department or the Washington Theological Union, the conversation was framed by questions which the participants had prepared before arriving.
The participants noted that there is a close correlation between the four elements of formation and the certification standards for lay ecclesial ministers developed by NALM (National Association for Lay Ministry), NCCL (The National Conference for Catechetical Leadership) and NFCYM (National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry) which were recently approved by the USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation. Standard one refers to personal and spiritual maturity; two to lay ecclesial ministry identity; three to catholic theology; four to pastoral praxis; and five to professional practice
In addition to discussing the elements to be included in each area of formation, participants observed that pastoral field work, coupled with theological reflection and guidance is a way to integrate the elements of formation. Bishop Kicanas summed up that phase of the conversation by saying human formation grounds, spiritual formation animates, theological formation distinguishes, and pastoral formation expresses ministry
Those present urged the Subcommittee to name ongoing formation as an essential piece of formation, emphasizing the need, expectation, and requirement of ongoing formation. They also expressed the hope that dioceses would be encouraged to provide opportunities and funding as well as time for ongoing formation.
Later in January, Sister Bríd and Sister Amy Hoey, RSM, conducted a similar consultation with thirty members of the Catholic Association of Theological Field Education at their biennial conference. The conversation was enriched by the fact that some of the members work only with candidates for ordination, some work only with those preparing for lay ecclesial ministry, and some work with both groups. All of them agreed that Baptism is the core of all ministry, that mission is central, and that Trinitarian theology is critical because it informs ecclesiology.
From Our Tradition . . .
In All Exercises of Ministry and Leadership, Collaboration Is Called For
Pastoral Initiative IV: Toward deeper commitment to witness, worship, and service Baptism and Confirmation give each one a share in the Church’s witness, worship and service for the good of its mission – the mission of Christ and of the Spirit – for the transformation of the World. Through baptism all share in the witness, worship, and service of the Church. The call to ministry and leadership comes specifically from the grace of baptism, and so there are many forms of ministry that pertain to the laity, and are not restricted to clergy and religious. Indeed, “the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1547)
This “baptismal grace of all” is the context within which all types of leadership in the Church – the vitally important priestly role of bishops and presbyters to build up and lead the Church as visible signs of unity, the role of deacons ordained specifically for the service of charity, as well as the importance of the consecrated life as prophetic sign of the coming reign of God, and committed lay leadership – are affirmed. What is called for in all exercise of ministry and leadership is collaboration with one another for the building of the one Body of Christ. With well-trained and deeply committed ordained and lay ministers and leaders in the Church, the Word will be effectively preached to our own faith communities, and inactive Catholics and non-Catholics will hear the God News proclaimed with vigor and joy. This Word of God “is not a concept , a doctrine, or a program subject to free interpretation, but is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Redemptoris Missio, 18)
Pastoral Priority: On the Archdiocesan level, processes are to be established to ensure better collaboration and cooperation among the laity, religious, and clergy so that the laity can more effectively assume their baptismal responsibility for the mission of the Church. Pastoral Strategies: A plan for the joint training of ordained and lay leaders, especially in processes of collaboration and shared decision making is to be implemented. A “school of ministry for laity” or its equivalent is to be established in each pastoral region to train parishioners for participation in a variety of parochial ministries. Women are to be included on an equal basis in all aspects of Church leadership, administration, and ministry not otherwise restricted by Church doctrine.
Cardinal Roger Mahoney and the People of God of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Gathered and Sent: Documents of the Synod of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles 2003. Liturgy Training Publications, 2004, pp. 32-33.
From Around the World. . .
Canadian Project to Celebrate Lay Ecclesial Ministry
Since June 2000, the Celebrate the Call Project has been exploring the development of lay ecclesial ministry in Canada and the possibility of setting up a national network for the ministry.
Regional focus groups, in both official languages, took place in ten different locations from Victoria to Halifax from April 2001 to October 2002. The groups included 136 lay ecclesial ministers from a wide range of ministerial contexts. A final report of these focus groups will be available soon and can be purchased by calling 306-384-6645.
A national gathering of forty lay leaders, representing the existing groups that serve or support lay ecclesial ministry in Canada, was held in Ottawa in June 2003. The gathering was fully bilingual and created an organizing committee for a first national conference to be held in Ottawa May 4-6, 2005. The goals of the conference are to explore the development of lay ecclesial ministry in the Canadian Church and to establish a permanent network of lay ecclesial ministers in Canada. The committee also promises “plenty of opportunities to Celebrate the Call”!
further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia “Equips the Saints”
Equipping the Saints is the title of a three-year program designed to equip lay leaders and those seeking ordination as deacons or local priests to strengthen the congregational ministry of the church. The program includes spiritual formation, instruction and study at the college level, and practice and reflection.
There are three components of the program. Mentor groups meet monthly in regional learning communities throughout the diocese to experience spiritual growth and share about the practice of ministry. Instructional weekends, three of which are scheduled throughout the year, are led by faculty of Bexley Hall, an accredited Episcopal Seminary, and provide opportunity for theological study and worship. Study and Reflection is supported by on-line tutors as students work through assigned readings, reflection and research papers. Topics vary year by year and include scripture, theology. church history, liturgy, homiletics, and ethics.