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
MuIticuIturaI Lay Ministry Resources Can Assist Bishops
"How do I attract, encourage and prepare lay minis-ters from diverse cultures?'' asked bishops in the recent lay ministry survey. One bishop, noting the many ethnic back-grounds in his diocese, commented "Perceptions and expectations in these cultures will profoundly affect lay ministry in the U.S." Others asked "What provision is being made for formation and ongoing development in languages other than English?'' How is a bishop to address these questions?
Several organizations and institutes, some recently founded, some with long histories, are actively addressing these issues. The National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC), which held its first meeting in 1889, has been sponsoring annual workshops in Pastoring in African American Parishes and Leadership Organizational Training since 1987. These regional workshops given throughout the year are planned for lay as well as clergy and religious leaders. The National Black Congress will convene in Baltimore in August 1997. Further information is available from NBCC at 410- 547-5330.
Founded in 1991, the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry (NCCHM) is a federation of national and regional Hispanic Catholic organizations in the U.S. NCCHM pilots a Hispanic church-based leadership program. On August 8 -11, the Council will showcase models of leadership by convening a cross-section of Hispanic lay leaders in Chicago for a congress titled Roots and Wings '96: Creating Pathways of Hope. NCCHM can be reached at 310-649-4214.
More than 18 pastoral centers and institutes through-out the U.S. provide lay formation programs in Spanish. A list of these programs is available from the Federation of Hispanic Pastoral Institutes at 305-279-2333. A Bilingual Guide for Pastoral Institutes will be published in Nov.'96.
The Instituto de Liturgia Hispana (202-319-6450) offers workshops, research and publications on liturgy reflecting Spanish traditions. The National Association of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry (404-888-7839) networks 55 dioceses having Hispanic Ministry offices. The National Association of Black Catholic Administrators (301-853-4579) encourages the development of African American lay ministers.
Survey Identifies Key Issues
In January bishops, dioceses, and graduate schools with programs in ministry received a survey asking them to prioritize questions related to lay ministry. Interest level was high, resulting in an overwhelming response of over 50% from each group. The results of the survey will be used to guide the future direction of the Ecclesial Lay Ministry project.
The top issue selected was the theology of lay ministry. A better articulation of the theology of lay ministry is seen as vital. In-depth study and discussion of ecclesiology, of the laity's response to their baptismal call, and of the notions of vocation, call, being sent, profession, and service, as applied to lay ministers, need to be pursued.
The second issue, also receiving widespread support, was the relationship between lay ministers and ordained ministers. How to improve working relationships and how to better train laity, clergy and seminarians for future work together are key. Also important are improved clarification of roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
The third issue selected was the formation and education of lay ministers. Many respondents asked for models of training programs. Others requested more attention be given to the ongoing formation of lay ministers.
The fourth issue pertained to the need for greater attention to the multicultural dimension of our Church. As one bishop noted, "Just providing liturgies and documents in another language is not enough.'' Attention must also be given to the differences in style, in approaches, and in other cultural elements.
The fifth issue involved financial concerns and human resource items. Compensation that meets the challenge of Catholic social justice teaching is very important. Issues such as job security, portable benefits and pensions, and opportunity for ongoing development all need attention if lay people are to continue responding to a call to this ministry.
The sixth item selected was the term lay minister and the need for a clearer definition and understanding. Some use this term very broadly while others narrowly restrict its use. A consistent definition would help minimize confusion when discussing other issues.
The variety of questions identified by respondents attests to the richness and diversity within our Church. Work in the area of lay ministry will continue well into the future. Many survey respondents noted that the survey stimulated discussion among their co-workers. Although the Lay Ministry Subcommittee will be able only to begin addressing a specific subset of the questions identified, it is hoped that at the local level, those involved in lay ministry will use some of these questions as an opportunity to reflect and dialogue, to plan and to act.
From Our Tradition . . .
Lay Formation A Priority for Dioceses
"In [the] dialogue between God who offers his gifts, and the person who is called to exercise responsibility, there comes the possibility, indeed the necessity, of a total and ongoing formation of the lay faithful, as the Synod Fathers have rightly emphasized in much of their work. After having described Christian formation as ‘a continual process in the individual maturation in faith, and a likening to Christ according to the will of the Father, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit,' they have clearly affirmed that the formation of the lay faithful must be placed among the priorities of a diocese. ‘It ought to be so placed within the plan of pastoral action that the efforts of the whole community (clergy, lay faithful and religious) converge on this goal.' The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one's vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one's mission.''
-- John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, 57-58.
From Our Jewish and Christian Neighbors . . .
Methodists Address MuIticuIturism
Multicultural diversity is descriptive of not just the Catholic Church, but also of Protestant Churches in the U.S. Recently Methodists have published several helpful articles on this subject in Quarterly Review: A Journal of Theological Resources for Ministry.
"Crosscultural Ministry: Theory, Practice, Theology,'' by Toinette Eugene (Winter ‘95-'96, Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 363-374,) proposes four frameworks for understanding and ministering in multicultural parishes.
The first involves understanding the adaptation of cultural groups. The dynamics of an immigrant situation mean that groups go through several stages: accommodation, separation, dialogue and institutionalization. The reality in parishes is that different individuals can be found in each one of these stages and the minister must recognize the differences. A second framework involves six categories that are helpful for describing cultures, including their approach to immediacy (e.g., high or low contact) and their preference toward individualism or collectivism.
Communication patterns is the third framework and
attributional response is the fourth. Eugene offers practical applications for utilizing these frameworks.
In an article titled,'‘Building Blocks for a Multicultural Congregation,'' (Fall 1993, Vol.13, No. 3, pp.73-82,) Douglas Ruffle proposes six building blocks for a multicultural church. These are: 1) Understanding clearly your primary task, 2) Seeking racial harmony, 3) Understanding the changes happening in your environment, 4) Cultivating an attitude of humility concerning other cultures: celebrating the stew; avoiding the melting pot, and 5) Sowing the seeds for tomorrow's church.
In the summer of 1990, the United Methodist Association of Professors of Christian Education held a consultation to address "Cultural Pluralism and the Teaching Office,'' to explore models and to develop recommendations for the training of future ministers in seminaries and colleges. One resulting publication was "Strategies of Christian Education in Multi-Cultural Situations'' by Taylor and June McConnell (Fall ‘92, Vol.12, No.3, pp.39-50,) which makes recommendations based on 10 years of multicultural research in New Mexico. A second article in the same issue, "An African-American Method of Religious Education'' by Joseph Crockett (pp.51-63), draws on the rich African-American heritage to adapt approaches in religious education.
The journal can be found at many libraries. Individual issues may be purchased for $5 from Quarterly Review Business Manager, Box 81, Nashville, TN 37202.
From Around the World . . .
Canadian Bishops PubIish Statement on ResponsibiIity in Ministry
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled "Responsibility in Ministry: A Statement of Commitment." The pastoral working instrument underlines some of the responsibilities that are part of ministering in the Church today and attempts to reflect ideals in order to inspire ministry.
The bishops write: While all who are baptized share in the ministry and mission of Christ, not every service to others is ministry, nor need every service be officially designated as ministry to be considered worthwhile. This document is primarily addressed to those who have received an appointment or mandate from the competent authority of their diocese to minister in the name of the Church.
Including the ministries of clergy, religious and married and single lay people in the same document underlines the fact that ministry today takes various forms and is collaborative. The application of specific provisions, however, needs to make allowance for the differences in vocation.
"Responsibility in Ministry" is the result of an extensive consultation with more than 150 clergy, religious and lay people across Canada over three years by the Ad Hoc Committee on Responsibility in Ministry.
The document is not a code of ethics, but it identifies areas of responsibility to different groups such as: those who are being ministered to; colleagues; the diocesan and universal Church; the wider community; and the responsibility the ministers have to themselves.
The document is available in English and French from the CCCB Publications Service at 613-241-7538.