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
PersonneI PoIicies: How to DeveIop Them in My Diocese?
"Please explore the role of pastor as ‘personnel manager','' asked a bishop who responded to the recent lay ministry survey. Salaries, performance appraisals, internships, job security, professional development, grievance procedures, training and education, pensions, flexible work schedules, and health benefits are just some of the issues that any employer needs to address as a manager. In the area of lay ministry, additional topics become important, for example, discernment of the individual's call to ministry, opportunities for ongoing spiritual development, just wage teaching in Catholic moral tradition and what to do about the non-portability of pensions. How does a bishop (or pastor) put all of the pieces together? The National Association of Church Personnel Administrators (NACPA) has been addressing these questions for 25 years. In addition to offering consulting services to individual parishes and dioceses, NACPA has developed training workshops and detailed manuals to help pastors and other church administrators respond to personnel management needs. NACPA workshops provide training in effective hiring practices, supervisory skills, conflict management, parish personnel practices and other human resource issues. NACPA manuals cover such topics as personnel policies, job descriptions, performance appraisal, grievance and dispute resolution, church personnel administration, compensation, lay retirement systems and parish pay practices. NACPA also publishes a National Diocesan Salary Survey annually, and a National Church Employee Benefits Survey triennially. These and other resources as well as membership information are available by contacting NACPA at 513-421-3134.
The Lay Ministry Survey Report was distributed to all bishops in the NCCB April 19 mailing. The report summarizes the top lay ministry issues as seen by U.S. Catholic Church leaders and educators.
Lay Ministry ProfessionaI Associations Meet With Bishops
Representatives from 20 professional associations met with members of the NCCB Lay Ministry Subcommittee in Washington, DC on March 16, 1996. The group gathered to identify and discuss issues that exist for lay ministers.
Major issues included the theology of lay ministry, the relationship between ordained ministers and lay ministers, and the formation/certification of lay ministers. Attention to financial concerns, as well as sensitivity to and greater representation of multicultural lay ministers, were also deemed very important by attendees.
A lively discussion, first within small groups and then as a large group, led to the naming of the many issues. The importance of trust and open communication were dominant themes. "People want to be heard,'' commented one representative. "Credibility of the church is a key issue and it is pretty low, especially among women right now,'' voiced another. The group asked bishops to be "open to what is happening,'' "to avoid a foregone conclusion,'' to not do "damage to what is already happening'' in the area of lay ministry, and to "remember the enormous support and enthusiasm'' of the professional associations.
The representatives offered to serve as liaisons with the more than 37,000 lay members of their organizations. Associations attending the gathering were: Assoc. of Graduate Programs in Ministry (AGPIM), Catholic Campus Ministry Assoc. (CCMA), Catholic Network of Volunteer Services (CNVS), Conference for Pastoral Planning and Council Development (CPPCD), Instituto de Liturgia Hispana, Nat'l Assoc. for Lay Ministry (NALM), Nat'l Assoc. of Black Catholic Administrators, Nat'l Assoc. of Catholic Chaplains (NACC), Nat'l Assoc. of Catholic Family Life Ministers (NACFLM), Nat'l Assoc. of Church Personnel Administrators (NACPA), Nat'l Assoc. of Parish Coordinators and Directors of Religious Education (NPCD), Nat'l Catholic Assoc. of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry, Nat'l Catholic Education's Department of Religious Education and Nat'l Conference of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education (NCDRE), Nat'l Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL), Nat'l Council of Catholic Women (NCCW), Nat'l Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), The Roundtable - Assoc. of Diocesan Social Action Directors, Spiritual Directors International (SDI), and St. Vincent Pallotti Center for Apostolic Development.
"These associations are a vital asset for our Church,'' noted Bishop Straling, Chairman of the Lay Ministry Subcommittee. The group of professional associations will gather again with the Subcommittee at a future date to discuss the progress of the Lay Ministry project.
From Our Tradition . . .
Laity CaIIed to Ecclesial Ministry
"‘The laity can also feel called, or be in fact called, to cooperate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community, for the sake of its growth and life. This can be done through the exercise of different kinds of ministries according to the grace and charisms which the Lord has been pleased to bestow on them.' In the Church, ‘lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this power [of governance] in accord with the norm of law.' And so the Church provides for their presence at particular councils, diocesan synods, pastoral councils; the exercise in solidum of the pastoral care of a parish, collaboration in finance committees, and participation in ecclesiastical tribunals, etc.''
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 910-911.
From Church Law . . .
Can Lay Ministers Exercise the Power of Governance?
With the growing number of laity serving as lay ministers, the question of jurisdiction is becoming increasingly important. Fr. John P. Beal, Assistant Professor of Canon Law at Catholic University, tackles this difficult subject in a recent issue of The Jurist ("The Exercise of the Power of Governance by Lay People: State of the Question,'' Volume 55 (1995.))
Beal asks, "Do the ecclesiastical offices or functions to which lay people are capable of being called include those which involve the exercise of ecclesiastical power of governance or jurisdiction?'' Of course, there is no simple answer. What makes this article so helpful, however, is that Beal brings together the various schools of thought in a comprehensive manner.
In concluding, Beal acknowledges that "The doctrinal debate about the nature and source of power in the Church and its consequences for the exercise of the power of governance by lay people is not likely to be resolved in the foreseeable future. The positions of the various participants in the debate are based on ecclesiologies and premises that are not easily reconcilable. As the debate goes on, however, diocesan bishops, faced with increasing demands for pastoral care and declining numbers of ordained presbyters, must provide for the spiritual welfare of the particular churches entrusted to their care with the resources available to them.'' This article serves as a valuable resource in better understanding the question of governance.
Two other resources that may also be of interest to those involved in the area of lay ministry are both available from the Canon Law Society of America (202-269-3491.) The first, Pastoral Care in Parishes Without a Pastor, gives practical suggestions for the application of Canon 517.2. Topics covered include the role and responsibilities of the lay and the ordained ministers, a discussion of their special authorizations and faculties, and a process for selecting and installing a lay minister (including a sample installation ceremony and a sample contract.)
The second document is Code, Community, Ministry: Selected Studies for the Parish Minister Introducing The Code of Canon Law. Revised in 1992, this document "addresses the pastoral implications and opportunities of the 1983 Code, attempts to explain the 1983 Code's significance for various aspects of pastoral ministry, and sketches in broad strokes the numerous ecclesiastical structures which pastoral ministers often encounter.'' This short book can be a helpful entry into the area of canon law for lay ministers.
Two resources published in 1995 by the National Pastoral Life Center (212-43-7825) as Center Papers may also be helpful. The first, Pastoral Coordinators & Canon Law by Sr. Sharon Euart, RSM, explores the meaning of canon 517 and how it should be implemented in U.S. dioceses. The second, Pastoral Coordinators: Parish Leadership without A Resident Pastor, gives a summary of practical experience from those involved in this scenario.
From Around the World . . .
Diocesan Program in GuatemaIa MuItipIies Its Effectiveness
Lay leaders in the Diocese of San Marcos, Guatemala serve as ministers at the same time that they are being trained, as part of a comprehensive formation program developed for the diocese by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in Ixchiguan. Rather than utilizing the standard approach whereby future ministers must first complete an entire course of study before they are formally sent to lead communities, this diocese has interwoven the two activities.
Three times a year, 125 lay leaders from the 25 surrounding villages attend week-long courses in Initiation, New Testament and Old Testament offered by the diocese. There is no resident priest in Ixchiguan nor in its neighboring villages. During the rest of the year, the lay ministers are responsible for leading Liturgy of the Word services, for distributing communion, for preparing community members to receive the Sacraments, and for the general church-life of their communities. In addition, all of the lay leaders attend a day-long class in Ixchiguan each month. The subjects covered include Bible Introduction, The Prophets, and The Gospels.
Twelve of these lay leaders are selected to teach the monthly classes. In preparation, they meet seven evenings a month with the School Sisters of Notre Dame to study the subject they will be presenting. In addition to their duties as ministers and as teachers to their fellow lay leaders, they also accompany the sisters on visits to all of the villages every six weeks. During those visits, the lay leaders give a talk to the entire community on one of the above subjects.
By interweaving the training of lay ministers with their ministerial duties, the Diocese of San Marcos has been able to multiply the reach of its services.