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
Canadian Lay Ecclesial Ministers “Celebrate the Call”
A project that began with a gathering of approximately 70 lay ministers in June 2000 will begin its second phase on May 11-13 when lay ecclesial ministers from throughout Canada gather to “celebrate the call.”
During the first phase, an organizing committee, with institutional and financial support from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (St. Mary’s province) conducted focus groups on lay ministry. Ten focus groups were held to explore the participants’ sense of ministerial identity, their vision for lay ministry, their needs for a sustained ministry in the future, and the creation of a national network.
The 136 participants were lay people, including non-ordained religious, who devote at least 20 hours per week to public ministry within their ecclesial communities. 80% are women; the average age is 51; 68% are married; and 81% are paid. Three-fourths are Anglophones; one fourth Francophone. The parish is the site of ministry for 58%; 25% are diocesan level coordinators. Master’s degrees are held by 26%; bachelor’s degrees by 21%.
In its section on the definition of lay ecclesial ministry, the report of the focus groups refers to the June 1987 document from the Committee on Ministries of the Quebec Assembly of Bishops (AEQ), “Formation Profile of Lay Pastoral Agents” which listed the following dimensions: 1) The accomplishment of a pastoral leadership task of guidance or counsel; 2) implying a participation in presiding within the community; 3) for which official recognition from an ecclesial authority is given (often via pastoral mandate); and 4) to which one consecrates a significant portion of his or her time and for a certain duration The report also refers to the characteristics given in Lay Ecclesial Ministry: the State of the Questions.
The report of the focus groups notes that “the problem of nomenclature continues to exist among lay ministers. In a group of 136 participants, no less that 82 different titles were used to describe their position.” It also noted that the lay ecclesial ministers identified three needs for the long term: ongoing spiritual formation, ongoing educational opportunities; and just and supportive working conditions. Voicing Vision: The ‘Celebrate the Call’ Dialogues on Lay Ministry, Rompre and Peacock, 2004.
Subcommittee Awaits Consultation Responses from Bishops
A March ’05 draft of the proposed resource document on lay ecclesial ministry was mailed to all bishops on March 24. In his cover letter Bishop Gerald Kicanas, chair of the Subcommittee, wrote that the subcommittee is not asking for a line-by-line review of the draft at this time, but for general comments and suggestions for improvement. A response instrument was included with the draft, to be returned by April 22, 2005. The correct Fax# is 202-541-3176.
The Subcommittee will meet on May 16 to review the results of the consultation and to plan the presentation and discussion of those results during the thirty minutes they have been allotted on the agenda of the June 2005 plenary assembly.
CARA Directory Reports Slight Increase in Lay Ministry Formation Enrollments
The 2005 Catholic Ministry Formation Directory, published by CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) reports a total of 18, 847 degree or certificate enrollees in lay ministry formation programs. That number represents an increase of 3% over 2003-2004. (The 04-05 total is, however, just over half of the total reported for 2002-2003, when less discrimination was made between adult faith formation and lay ecclesial ministry formation.)
Of the 289 programs who responded to the CARA survey, 50% are certificate programs only; 35% are programs which offer both degrees and certificates; 9% are programs at Catholic colleges or universities that offer only degrees; and 6% are degree only programs at a seminary or school of theology.
The directory identifies nine different degrees which are offered, the most numerous being the M.A. in Pastoral Studies or Pastoral Ministry, available at 88 programs. It also identifies eleven different kinds of certificates, the most numerous being a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry, offered by 125 programs, followed by a Certificate in Religious Education, offered by 97 programs.
The demographics of participants in lay ecclesial ministry programs are relatively unchanged over the ten years that CARA has been compiling the directory. For 2004-05, 63% of program participants are lay women; 64% are in their forties and fifties; and 75% are white, with Hispanic/Latino next at 17%.
The Directory, which also includes enrollment and program information about Seminaries and Diaconate Formation Programs is available from CARA @ Georgetown.edu.
From Our Tradition . . .
Laity Share Responsibility for the Life and Mission of the Church
“An appreciation of the distinct gifts and apostolate of the laity will naturally lead to a strengthened commitment to fostering among the laity a sense of shared responsibility for the life and mission of the church. In stressing the need for a theology and spirituality of communion and mission for the renewal of ecclesial life, I have pointed to the importance of ‘making our own the ancient pastoral wisdom which, without prejudice to their authority, encouraged pastors to listen more widely to the people of God’ (Novo Millennio Ineuente, 45). Certainly this will involve a conscious effort on the part of each bishop to develop within his particular church structures of communion and participation which make it possible, without prejudice to his personal responsibility for decisions he is called to make by virtue of his apostolic authority, ‘to listen to the Spirit who lives and speaks in the faithful’ (cf. Pastores Gregis, 44).
“More important, it calls for the cultivation in every aspect of ecclesial life of a spirit of communion grounded in the supernatural sensus fidei and the rich variety of charisms and missions which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the whole body of the baptized in order to build them up in unity and fidelity to the word of God (cf. Lumen Gentium, 12). An understanding of cooperation and shared responsibility which is firmly rooted in the principles of a sound ecclesiology will ensure a genuine and fruitful collaboration between the church’s pastors and the lay faithful.”
Pope John Paul II, Ad Limina Address , December 10, 2004. Origins
From Around the World. . .
British Network for Lay Ministers Celebrates Ten Years, Plans Study Day on A Theology for Lay Ministry
Ten years ago the Network for Lay Ministry was set up in England as “the national organization to support those in active (paid or unpaid) work in the Church.” With an active membership of almost 100, it offers a regular newsletter which shares helpful practices and useful resources. The network also sponsors days for reflection and prayer and study days. On April 30, the Network will meet at Vaughn House, Westminster Cathedral, for a study day named “A Theology for Lay Ministry.”
In a recent article, Anne Cross wrote that the network provides occasion for lay ministers to share their stories and challenges, to offer mutual support, and “to ask key questions about the nature of our ministry in the Church and the function of the parishes. What, for instance, enables them to be called Eucharistic communities? What part does the parish play in enabling each person to live out their calling as a member of the Body of Christ?”
Ms. Cross noted that each person is asked at the end of Mass to go in peace and love and serve the Lord. She concluded “If we take this call seriously, throughout the week, in whatever way we can, are we not ministering in our Church? The answer to this question for many is a resounding ‘yes.’ And yet, the question that perplexes me further is ‘how are we supported and valued in this ministry?’”
The Tablet, 12 March 2005, p.18
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Four Denominations Partner with Fund for Theological Education to Reach Youth
The Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church have pledged $1 million to supplement a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment for initiatives designed to help congregations develop an imaginative and vibrant culture of call. The hope is that the initiatives will offset a decline in the number of young people choosing ministry as their life’s work.
The ultimate goal of the FTE program called Pastoral Leaderships Search Effort (PLSE), pronounced pulse, is to increase the pool of quality ministers by inviting gifted young people to explore pastoral ministry as a vocation.
The program provides several tools:
- an interactive on-line community for young people to share their thoughts about ministry and make connections with each other;
- a web-based database that stores candidates’ contact information (with their permission) and enables PLSE staff coordinators to connect candidates to events, conferences, workshops, mentors, internships, fellowships and other resources for vocational discernment;
- resources and models for congregations and other faith communities to keep informed about issues in pastoral leadership, vocational discernment, and young people and ministry.