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
Archdiocese of Seattle Inaugurates Certification Program for Lay Ecclesial Ministers
The Archdiocese of Seattle inaugurated a new certification program for lay ecclesial ministers in October. Christifideles is a two-year program of graduate education offered at Seattle University with a formation program provided by the Archdiocese. Participants, who will earn a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies degree from Seattle University, will qualify for certification for ministry in the Archdiocese, and may attend either full or part-time. Participants may receive up to 50% tuition scholarship from the Archdiocese and up to 25% scholarship from Seattle University.
The focus of the formation program is the ecclesiology of Vatican II. In the first year, Lumen gentium and related documents emphasize the Church as mystery and sacrament. In the second year, Gaudium et spes and related documents highlight the Church as herald and servant.
Components of the program include: two annual retreats and quarterly luncheons which introduce students to the organization, resources and pastoral initiatives of the Archdiocese; academic advising from the Director of the program; an Archdiocesan-approved intern placement; and a Pentecost retreat concluding the program.
Additional information about the program may be obtained by contacting Carla Caldwell, Director of Lay Ecclesial Ministry: firstname.lastname@example.org; (206) 382-4268.
October 2004 Consultation on Draft Document on Lay Ecclesial Ministry Elicits Thoughtful Responses
The Subcommittee received many thoughtful, informed responses to its October 2004 consultation on the draft document on Lay Ecclesial Ministry (LEM). Twenty-one professional ministerial associations responded, and each had involved as many of their members as possible in submitting a single, group response. Also participating were twenty individuals who had participated in the Subcommittee’s 2003-04 focused consultations, eighteen members, consultors, advisors, and staff of USCCB Committees, and others. 170 questionnaires were distributed, and 63 were returned, for a response rate of 37%.
Respondents completed a questionnaire to indicate their general and specific reactions to the document. A five point scale was used to measure their ratings of the document’s overall clarity and helpfulness. Respondents were also asked to rate each section of the document: Introduction, Theological and Doctrinal Foundations of LEM, Pathways to LEM, Formation for LEM, Authorization for LEM, and the Ministerial Workplace. Highest means were attained for clarity of purpose and audience of the document (for each, M=4.4 on a 5 point scale) and helpfulness of the document for formation of LEM and in grounding LEM in the Tradition of the Church (for each, M=4.2). The lowest mean was attained for the document’s furthering the understanding of LEM (M=3.7). In response to individual sections of the document, respondents found the section on Formation for Ministry the most helpful in terms of understanding, clarifying, and/or supporting the role of LEMs (M=4.2). Least helpful was the section on the Ministerial Workplace (M=3.8).
Many positive responses were noted in the participants’ free responses. There was much “positive affirmation” of an “excellent document.” One respondent writes, “While cognizant of areas of needed revision, …we generally find the document to be clear, readable, comprehensive, sensitive in discussion of issues, and sufficiently broad and flexible to serve as a strong basis for the affirmation and development of LEM in the United States.” A few recurrent themes for revision in the free responses to the sections of the document include the following: the scope of the document, repetitious and defensive distinctions between LEM and ordained ministry, confusion about the warrant for LEM as coming from Baptism or/and from an authorization process, the use of “call/vocation” language in speaking about LEM, further clarification of the role of the deacon in relation to the lay ecclesial minister, an absence of a mechanism for assessment and evaluation of formation programs, and the use of “business” language in speaking of the Church.
From Our Tradition . . .
“Partnership with Others in Ministry Is an Essential Dimension [and] Asks for Formation”
“Partnership with others in ministry ‘is an essential dimension of the contemporary Jesuit way of proceeding, rooted in the realization that to prepare our complex and divided world for the coming of the kingdom requires a plurality of gifts, a plurality of perspectives, a plurality of experiences, both international and multicultural.’ (General Congregation 34, D.26, n.16) …
“All of this is asking for formation: formation of the laity and formation of Jesuits to cope with this new dimension of our work. To grow in cooperation in mission together will require formation for both lay persons and Jesuits. We Jesuits should ensure, for those partners who freely choose to take up such an invitation, that ‘laity who collaborate in Jesuit apostolates can expect from us a specific formation in Ignatian values, help in discernment of apostolic priorities and objectives, and practical strategies for their realization.’ (Ibid, n.8) Such formation, again always freely offered and freely chosen, needs to be carefully planned and coordinated. Those who have accepted roles of leadership, management, supervision and direction of various areas of Jesuit-sponsored ministries, whether a whole program or school, or a department or office, have a legitimate expectation to be prepared to take up such responsibilities. It is our Jesuit responsibility to make available to them the possibility of exploring more deeply the roots of Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit ways of proceeding, to help them carry out their responsibilities toward the Catholic and Jesuit identity of the works they serve. They will use their unique and personal gifts, enhanced with a clear vision of the Jesuit mission and the skills for Ignatian discernment To ‘exercise co-responsibility and be engaged in discernment and participative decision making’ (Ibid, n.13) requires careful and systematic preparation. …
“For our part, we Jesuits need both initial and ongoing formation to gain experience and skills for cooperating with the laity in mission. As together we pray for vocations to the society, let us pray especially that the Lord prepare and call to this service young men who are part of the ‘church of the laity.’ Men entering the society should receive formation in appreciating this ‘grace of our day,’ becoming rooted and grounded in this way of proceeding for Jesuits today. They should have specific opportunities to learn from the experiences of women and any disadvantaged members of society. They should be mentored in how to align themselves in solidarity with women and the poor. They should be supervised in apostolic experiences necessary for developing ‘a capacity for collaborating with both laity and fellow Jesuits.’ (Ibid, n.9) The future of this Jesuit-lay partnership will depend in great measure upon the next generation of Jesuits.”
Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus,
“Cooperating With Each Other in Mission,” Address in connection with the 125th anniversary of the Jesuits’ arrival in Omaha and the 50th anniversary of the start of the Jesuits’ Wisconsin province, Origins, Oct. 28, 2004, pp. 314-318.
From Around the World. . .
Common Themes and Diverse Experiences Revealed in Leaders’ Responses to New Forms of Ministry
In a recent article in New Theology Review, Edward P. Hahnenberg offers his reflections on various conversations with church leaders from Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa about church ministry, and he notes the diversity of “the changing shape of ministry in various cultures and continents.”
In France lay ministries have not followed the path of professionalization, but there has been a proliferation of part-time and volunteer ministries. The German bishops, on the other hand, have thoroughly addressed and organized the rise of professional ministries, publishing several documents on the topic.
In Latin America, CELAM has highlighted three basic lay ministries i.e. Ministers of the word, of the Eucharist and of the sick. Individual countries have also offered different typologies. In Asia, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences have stressed the need for collaborative ministry and formation. In Africa, “it has been primarily individual bishops who have articulated ways of responding to the important ministries offered by lay Catholics.”
Hahnenberg concludes with reflections on four common themes among the diverse global responses to lay ministry: Reality: Any response must be firmly grounded in the concrete pastoral situation. Re-positioning: Laity whose lives are dedicated to ministry take up a new place within their community. Recognition: Ecclesial recognition is important in confirming and affirming the re-positioning of important ministers within the community. Rite: Within a sacramental community the recognition of ministry takes place in liturgy.
Edward P. Hahnenberg, “Think Globally, Act Locally: Responding to Lay Ecclesial Ministry” New Theology Review, November 2004.
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
The Fund for Theological Education Supports Youth in Discerning Careers in Ministry
The Fund for Theological Education (FTE) “advocates excellence and diversity in pastoral ministry and theological scholarship.”
Several of their initiatives specifically offer support for Christian youth discerning careers in ministry. For example:
- Partnership for Excellence: Undergraduate Fellows Program “provides resources in decision-making and theological enrichment for academically gifted, self-aware, imaginative students who wish to consider ministry as a vocational choice.”
- www.exploreministry.org is a website that “shows ministry as a dynamic and creative field… The site encourages gifted and faithful young people to consider the many avenues of ministry as a career…”
- http://www.theplse.org The Pastoral Leadership Search Effort - FTE partners with congregations to “help nurture a new generation of gifted and religiously committed leaders for church and society.”