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
Creation of the Lay Ministry Subcommittee
In March 1994, the Lay Ministry Subcommittee was formed as an ad hoc committee to the Laity Committee. The current members are:
- Bishop Phillip F. Straling, Reno, NV, Chairman of the Subcommittee
- Bishop Tod D. Brown, Boise, ID, representing the Pastoral Practices Committee and Chairman of the Laity Committee
- Bishop John C. Dunne, Rockville Centre, NY, representing the Religious Life and Ministry Committee
- Bishop James R. Hoffman, Toledo, OH, representing members at-large
- Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, Nashville, TN, representing the Priestly Life and Ministry Committee
- Bishop Armando X. Ochoa, Mission Hills, CA, representing the Permanent Diaconate Committee
- Bishop J. Terry Steib, Memphis, TN, representing the Priestly Formation Committee
Bishops Launch Lay Ministry Project
Just four years ago, 20,000 Catholic lay ministers were employed in the U. S. With an equal number of people currently studying to become lay ministers (see article on back page), the number of professional lay ministers can only increase. To support and encourage this development, the Lay Ministry Subcommittee is launching a three-year project entitled, ‘‘Leadership for Ecclesial Lay Ministry.'' The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. has provided a grant for the project.
Lay ministers are typically responsible for a specific area of service, such as youth ministry, social services, religious education, spirituality, liturgy, music, and outreach to the sick or elderly. Many work in parishes, while others work in diocesan offices, universities and hospitals.
The project will examine the strategic direction of this evolving ministry by gathering data on the extent of lay ministry and examining relevant issues, such as theological, canonical, educational and human resources concerns. "We need to find out if lay ministers stay in the work and if opportunities for lay leadership are expanding,'' noted Bishop Phillip F. Straling of Reno, Nevada, Chairman of the Lay Ministry Subcommittee. "We need to know what kind of education and formation is beneficial and what successful models exist for screening and placement of ministers and for integrating them into the Church organization.''
The first phase of the project will focus on identifying and prioritizing the key issues. The Subcommittee distributed a survey to bishops in early January asking for priorities. A similar survey was sent to lay ministry graduate programs and to professional associations representing lay ministers. In addition, the Subcommittee is organizing focus groups with bishops beginning in February. The Subcommittee will host a forum for professional lay ministry associations in March. The results of these sessions will be included in future issues of this newsletter.
At the end of the project, the subcommittee expects to be able to assist bishops and others in policy-making positions by offering practical models and information on lay ministry.
Lay Ministry Survey Responses
Due Feb. 16
Surveys were sent to bishops requesting feedback on priority of issues in January. The survey results will be used to help shape the direction of the lay ministry project. If you have not yet returned your survey, please do so by Feb. 16. To get an extra copy of the survey, contact Ana Villamil, NCCB Lay Ministry Project Coordinator at 202-541-3229.
From Our Tradition . . .
Pope John PauI II Discusses Laity's RoIe in EccIesiaI Ministries
Before reciting the Angelus on December 10, 1995, Pope John Paul II continued his reflections on the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The following excerpt is taken from the Holy Father's talk:
"On 8 December, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we recalled the 30th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. As everyone knows, the Council devoted great attention to the identity and mission of the laity. To this theme, already discussed in the Constitution on the Church, the Council Fathers returned in a systematic way in the Decree Apostolicam actuositatem.
"In Lumen gentium we read that lay Christians are fully ‘lay' and the secular nature of their vocation is stressed (cf. n. 31). Gaudium et spes then adds that the Christian belief in God the Creator and in the Incarnate Word does not compromise but rather strengthens an authentic lay state, by demonstrating and guaranteeing the value and autonomy of temporal affairs: a value and autonomy that obviously must be understood in accordance with and not contrary to the Creator's plan. 'Without the Creator there can be no creature!' (Gaudium et spes, n. 36).
"However, it is the Decree Apostolicam actuositatem
that concentrates on the specific theme of the apostolic vocation of the laity: there it is stated that their vocation spurs them to work not only at giving a Christian inspiration to the temporal order (cf. n. 7), but also in the very apostolate of evangelization and sanctification (cf. n. 6), obviously to be carried out in ways that conform to their particular state.
"The first of these ways is certainly the consistent witness to the Gospel they must offer in the ordinary situations of everyday life: the family, professional life, culture, art, the economy and politics. However, vast areas are also open to the laity in strictly ecclesial life. It is not only a question of supplying for the needs of the community when there is a shortage of sacred ministers; it is their baptismal consecration itself that makes them subjects of rights and duties, calling them to take on specific roles and ministries and to use each one's spiritual gifts and charisms for the cause of God's kingdom.
The Church's 20 centuries and, especially, these decades following the Council have witnessed a remarkable flourishing of lay groups, movements and associations. The Spirit of God seems to be stirring up in the Christian people the original missionary zeal, when the faith was able to spread rapidly because of the heroic witness of every baptized person.
"From the commitment of a consistent and well-formed laity, indeed, from the spread of an authentic lay holiness, one may expect a renewed springtime for the Church of the third millennium.
Lay Ministry in the U.S. . .
Lay Ministers in Training -
Who Are They?
Today 21,800 students attend Catholic, lay ministry formation programs in the U.S. Of these, 83% are lay and 11% are vowed religious. This is an increase from 10,500 students just 9 years ago according to the 1995 CARA Lay Ministry Formation Directory.
The median age for today's student is 43 for those in degree programs and 48 for those in non-degree programs. Less than 8% of participants are under 30 years of age.
Minorities make up almost 23% of the students: 12% Hispanic Americans, 5% African Americans, 4% Asian Americans and less than 1% Native Americans or from other countries.
A large percentage of the students (22%) are in business/professions and an equal number are in service work (sales, technicians, clerical). Nineteen percent are already church professionals; whereas 13% are not working (retired/unemployed/full-time students), 11 % are full-time homemakers and 9% are blue collar workers.
Ten percent of students in degree programs and 18% of those in non-degree programs have made a commitment to future service as part of their program of studies. This is a significant increase from 1986.
Of ecumenical interest, 6% of the students in these Catholic programs are Protestant laity and an additional 2% are Protestant clergy. Data for Catholic lay ministry students attending Protestant schools is not included.
The complete report is available from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at 202-687-8080.