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
CARA Directory Reports Drop in Ministry Formation Enrollments
For the first time since 1994-1995 when CARA began tracking enrollments in lay ministry formation programs, statistics for 2003-2004 record a decline in the number of programs (from 313 to 290) and enrolled students (from 35,448 to 25, 964). Nineteen programs reported being at least temporarily inactive or in the process of being reevaluated and therefore not accepting students.
CARA has been working with the Subcommittee and others to refine its collection of information on lay ecclesial ministry program participants and to distinguish as much as possible between those preparing for formal lay ecclesial ministry in the Church and those in programs primarily for adult faith formation.
To more clearly distinguish among the different types of programs, CARA asked program directors to classify their program in one of four categories. The responses were certificate program only, 48%; combined degree and certificate program, 39%; degree only - college or university; 8%; degree only – seminary or school of theology, 5%.
For the first time, CARA asked about requirements of a spiritual formation component and field education/ internship. Both are required most often by degree programs associated with a seminary or school of theology and least often by a degree program associated with a college or university that doesn’t offer certificates.
Profiles of participants by age, gender, and racial and ethnic background are relatively unchanged from past years, although the Hispanic-Latino group of participants rose from 15% to 22% in the last year.
The report can de downloaded free of charge from http://cara.georgetown.edu.
NALM 28th Annual Conference
Kansas City, June 3-6
Formation Directors Institute
First Phase of Consultations Concludes with Workplace and Authorization Issues
At the end of March, Bishop Kicanas, Subcommitee chair, Bishop Wester, member, advisors. and staff met with ten individuals, many of them canonists, for the fifth and final focused consultation. This consultation was designed to. reflect on the essential elements that are needed for authorizing lay ecclesial ministers to exercise ministry within the local church. Among the consultants were chancellors; ministry formation directors; parish, diocesan and USCCB staff, professors of theology and canon law as well as the priest director of the Glenmary Pastoral Coordinator Program.
The conversation included defining the multiple terms currently used to reflect the fact that ministry is of the church and not of the individual. The consultants agreed that authorization ensures the right of the people of God to be well served and that there is a phased process by which one prepares for authorization. That process involves, before authorization, an academic recognition of completion of preparation (degree or certificate), certification by a diocese or professional association testifying that requirements (academic, personal, etc.) have been met, and an ecclesial call, acknowledging the call to lay ecclesial ministry. The consultants also recognized the importance of ritual recognition, not only for the minister, but also for the community in which the ministry will take place..
In late February the same representatives from the Subcommittee met with ten other consultants to discuss workplace issues. Included in the group were two staff members from the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators, the Chair of the Directors of the National Association for Lay Ministry, human resource directors from large and small dioceses, diocesan directors of pastoral planning, a deacon and the pastor of a large multicultural parish.
The conversation highlighted the uniqueness of the Church as a workplace with its own language and history. The consultants discussed the traits of a healthy Church workplace which should integrate the best theology, ecclesiology, business practices and legal considerations in the formation and implementation of comprehensive personnel systems. Other topics included the relationship between volunteer and paid staff, hiring practices, compensation, termination performance management and ongoing education.
The insights gathered from all the consultations will provide the background for the first draft of the document on lay ecclesial ministry which the Subcommittee plans to review at its June 20-21 meeting.
From Our Tradition . . .
French Bishops Urged “To Help Priests Encourage Trusting Collaboration With Lay People”
In the face of the increasingly weighty responsibilities that priests must confront, it is important to help them discern priorities and to encourage trusting collaboration with lay people, with respect for the responsibilities of each one. I know of the joy and happiness they experience in their ministry, in the proclamation of the Word of God, in their direct contacts with men, women and children, in the sharing of responsibilities with lay persons. What could be better for a pastor than to see the faithful growing in humanity and in the faith and taking their place in the Church and in society.
John Paul II, Address to the Fourth Group of French Bishops on Their ‘Ad Limina” Visit, 24 January 2004
From Around the World. . .
Education for Parish Service to Offer Modular Courses in Westminister and Southwark
For over thirteen years, Education for Parish Service has been offering courses to enable lay people in England prepare to minister in their parishes. (EPS recently celebrated 25 years of service in the U.S.) Patricia Carroll is the newly appointed program director in England.
In response to changing needs, the program will be offering “modular “courses. One new modular (10 week) course planned for this summer is called “Using Theological Reflection in Parish Ministry.” In an article in the January 2004 Briefings: The Official Journal of the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of England & Wales and Scotland, Patricia Carroll wrote: “Theological reflection is a necessary tool in modern parishes where people feel the need to gather and reflect regularly in order to sustain themselves in our post-modern world. Those who hope to be involved in the service of the Church as lay ecclesial ministers need to be equipped and proficient in this skill.”
Ms. Carroll’s article concludes: “ EPS courses are praxis based, i.e. they endeavor to integrate theological insight with pastoral practice.”
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
ELCA Bishops Ask for Study on Authorized Lay Ministry
The Conference of Bishops of the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA) has asked its Division of Ministry (DM) to study the present policies and guidelines related to authorized lay ministry in the Conference’s 65 synods, and to bring a report and recommendations to the bishops’ October 2004 meeting.
The Conference also asked DM to develop an approach for including “the wider church” in discussion “related to preparation of standards for ordained ministry in light of present, emerging and changing contexts for mission, including multicultural contexts.”
The requests resulted form a continuing discussion of lay presidency and authorized lay ministry in synods by the Conference. Under present policy, a bishop may appoint a lay person to preach, preside at communion and provide other ministry services to a congregation in the absence of an ordained pastor.
The Conference discussions were preceded by papers presented by theologians at ECLA Seminaries and responses from three bishops. Bishop James Stuck of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, said that there are some 70 trained lay ministers in that synod. The responsibility for proper oversight of lay ministry lies with the local ministerium, said Bishop Stuck, with “major assistance” from synods and seminaries. Ultimately, he added, the church as a whole must be responsible.
Bishop Steven Ullestad of the ELCA Northeastern Iowa Synod said to uphold the integrity of the Lutheran Confessions it is important to remember that the office of ministry in the ELCA is given to the whole church, and no one can exercise the office of ministry without a public call. ‘To violate policy is to violate relationships,” Bishop Ullestad said. Because the office of ministry is given to the church then it is the church that will determine who will symbolize the church “at the table.” “That is why,” Bishop Ullestad concluded, “this needs to be churchwide policy, not [a policy] by a synod and not by a congregation.”
If lay presidency is to be formalized, the teaching theologians’ papers suggested that there be four requirements: community discernment to determine who is most trusted to lead in administering the sacraments; pastoral and Episcopal supervision, training, mentoring, and continuing education; public recognition of the person trusted to lead the community; and individual responsibility and accountability to “God in Christ,” the worshipping community, local pastors and bishops, the wider church and to the person who is called to lay ministry.
ELCA News Service, March 22, 2004
to all our readers