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
Diocese of Trenton Commissions First Lay Ecclesial Ministers
Thirty-five lay men and women were commissioned for diocesan service at a Liturgy celebrated by Bishop John Smith. There were nearly fifty concelebrants and deacons at the Mass on December 12 in the cathedral which was filled to capacity.
Twenty-nine of the newly commissioned ministers had completed the three-year Institute for Ministry program which the diocese sponsors in collaboration with Georgian Court University (Lakewood, NJ). The Institute provides academic formation for those pursuing an MA in theology or graduate or undergraduate certificates in Pastoral Ministry, Religious Education, Parish Business Management, Pastoral Administration, and Catholic School Leadership.
The Institute also has a spiritual formation program which includes individual spiritual direction, individual directed retreats, and six group spiritual formation retreat days during each of the three years of formation.
Six of those commissioned had completed a special program called Commissioning of Active Lay Leaders (CALL). That program is designed for persons with longstanding experience in ministry who already have academic credentials and spiritual formation.
Further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subcommittee Requests Revised Draft of Proposed Document
At their December 15 meeting, the Subcommittee reviewed the results of their August consultation with bishops and October consultation with professional ministerial associations, individuals who had participated in earlier focused consultations, and members, advisors, consultors and staff of related USCCB Committees (Diaconate, Doctrine, Pastoral Practices, Priestly Formation, Priestly Life and Ministry, and Vocations).
Acknowledging the general affirmation of the work to date, the Subcommittee identified several areas for revision as a result of the comments and suggestions received in the consultations. They also requested a canonical and legal review of the revised draft and adjusted the timeline. Pending consultation with the Subcommittee, Laity Committee, and Chairs of the related committees, the revised draft will be sent to all bishops for their review in mid-March. The results of that review will be studied by the Subcommittee at a May 16 meeting.
By that time, the Subcommittee should also have a first draft of the research being done on lay ministers by the National Pastoral Life Center.
New Resources Available from NFCYM and NALM The National Federation for Youth Ministry has published a new resource, Growing in Competency: A Self-Assessment Tool for Youth Ministry Leaders. Based on the National Certification Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers, the book, written by Catherine Becker, is presented as a tool for an individual to prayerfully assess competence in ministry, prioritize personal growth needs and set goals. For each of the five standards and associated competencies there are focus questions for reflection, a space in which to note evidence of competency and two grids, one to note the results of the self-assessment, ranging from highly competent to not at all competent and another to identify how central the particular competence is to the individual’s current ministry. email@example.com
In March, the National Association for Lay Ministry will publish the newly revised National Certification Standards for Pastoral Ministers. The standards, approved by the USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation, are for volunteer roles such as visiting the sick, assisting with RCIA, helping with parish outreach, etc. A Pastoral Minister has limited program responsibilities and decision-making authority and serves under the direction of the Pastor, Pastoral Associate or other pastoral team member. www.nalm.org
From Our Tradition . . .
Pastoral Leaders Must Constantly Emphasize How Parish Activities Are Related to the Mission of Jesus
“To most people it matters little that Jesus walked on water some 2,000 years ago and that Peter walked with him. What matters to them, however, is to know that when they are sinking, this Jesus in whom they have put their faith and trust will lift them up. What matters to them is whether they can muster the courage to step out of the boat and into the storm. What matters to them is whether they can invite others to take bold new steps into unfamiliar territory, with confidence in this Jesus.
“Pastoral leaders, therefore, must constantly emphasize how all of the parish’s worship, faith formation and social services are related to the mission of Jesus. The lector at Mass, for example, must be helped to appreciate that he or she is proclaiming God’s holy word and that when this word is read with clarity, sincerity and conviction, it has the power to touch lives and change hearts. The woman who is preparing youngsters for first communion and the man who is instructing confirmation candidates must recognize that they are not just helping out because there has been a decline in vocations to the ordained and vowed life, but they must understand that this is a way of fulfilling their baptismal call to holiness and ministry, and the command of their brother Jesus ‘to go forth and proclaim the good news to the ends of the earth.’ The members of the pastoral council must appreciate that they not only have responsibility to see that the parking lot is paved and the annual bazaar conducted, but that they share responsibility for making the mission of Jesus tangible and real at this particular moment in history in this particular place.
“So, too, must the music, youth, eucharist and bereavement ministers, those preparing couples for marriage, those exercising the ministry of hospitality, or those working In the parish soup kitchen, food pantry or thrift shop, or those engaged in outreach to the elderly, AIDs sufferers, gays, lesbians, or the unchurched.
“And each moment spent, each gift shared, each contribution made is a real participation in and extension of the mission of Jesus. It is only when this is fully understood that one’s participation in the life of the parish can be transferred from a rather begrudging and perfunctory fulfillment of a burdensome task and responsibility into an exciting, challenging and spirit-filled adventure that truly makes Jesus alive and present in our day. “
Most Reverend Howard Hubbard, Bishop of Albany, “The Mission of the Contemporary Parish,” Origins, (January 24, 2005), p.492
From Around the World. . .
Swiss Bishops Receive Approval for Sermon-like Discourses By Lay Theologians
The Swiss Bishops’ Conference has announced that pastoral assistants (who hold university degrees in theology) are to be allowed to preach during Mass and baptize whenever a priest is not available. In announcing the new permissions which were granted during the ad limina visits, Agnell Rickenmann, the general secretary of the conference noted that in Switzerland there is “a 30-year tradition of theologically trained lay people active in the Church.”
Bishop Amédée Grab, president of the Conference, returning from his fourth ad limina visit, commented that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had told the Swiss bishops that in emergency cases lay theologians could hold a “brief sermon-like discourse” or a meditation based on the Mass for the day, but that this should not be allowed to become the “general norm.”
The London Tablet, 12 February, 2005, p.33
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Presbyterian Church (USA) Plans National Peer Ministry Training Conference
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has set the first national College Student Peer Ministry Training conference for June 15-19 at the University of Louisville. Peer ministry most often involves college undergraduates who are serving a campus ministry through leadership of programs with other students.
“The collegiate peer ministry programs are proving to be one of the best ways to introduce students to the theological concept of responsible servanthood,” said the Rev. Bob Turner, the PC(USA)’s associate for collegiate ministries. “They truly do needed service in a setting of supervised reflection about their faith development and spiritual gifts.”
The conference will include opportunities for participants to conduct service projects around Louisville, guest speakers, and workshops on a range of topics from holding Bible studies to fund raising.
A separate conference at the same time and campus will be held for PC(USA) collegiate ministry staff who serve local churches and individuals with higher education responsibilities for presbyteries, synods and other regional bodies. http://www/pcusa.org/pcc