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
Lay Centre in Rome Develops Leadership and Vision for Students
"Lay students in Rome are a distinct minority," according to Sharon Parker a member of the Marriage Tribunal in the Diocese of Reno. Sharon was the only woman in her classes at the Angelicum, but found great support from the lay community of women and men at the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas where she lived.
The Centre was established in 1986 "to provide a family like atmosphere for lay theology students who attend the various ecclesiastical universities and institutes in Rome." Sharing community, prayer, liturgy, meals and other common activities gave Sharon and others the opportunity to probe their lay identity as ministers in the church and to develop leadership skills.
For Susan Timoney , who lived at the Centre while completing her doctorate at the Angelicum and is currently Assistant to the President at The Education for Parish Service Program at Trinity College, Washington , DC, it was the experience of living and praying with lay people from all over the world that was most formative. "The opportunity to develop a sense of the universal church was unparalleled," said Susan.
As a married couple at the Gregorian, Bill and Cath Hare were even more anomalous among the students. They also lived at the Lay Centre, grateful for the "microcosm of the church experienced there, both in national backgrounds and theological perspectives." Today Bill is Director of the Tribunal for the Diocese of Dallas and Cath is a pastoral associate at a parish where Bill also serves as business manager.
The Director of the Centre is Donna Orsuto who went to the Gregorian from the U.S. and after completing her studies, stayed on to establish the Centre at the Foyer Unitas Institute.
Lay Chaplains Minister Beyond and - Within - Parishes
According to canon 564, a chaplain is a priest, but more than 3,500 ecclesial lay ministers are known as chaplains within their ministry settings. In most cases those settings are not parochially defined, although a trend is developing to appoint some chaplains within parishes. According to Sister Susan Van Baalen OP, Director of Chaplaincy Services for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, "the people we serve understand chaplain; they do not always understand pastoral care worker."
Mrs. Karen Lai, who serves as Port Chaplain in Galveston, TX, says that seafarers are often surprised when she introduces herself as a chaplain, but "once I explain lay ministry, they understand." Karen visits the ships every morning and "talks to anybody who needs me." She also serves on the faculty of the Houston Training Program for Port Chaplains and is currently the president of the National Catholic Conference for Seafarers, with its 35 members, 9 of whom are lay.
The largest and oldest association of such ministers is the National Association of Catholic Chaplains. Founded 30 years ago, the association currently includes over 3, 500 members, 78 % of whom are lay. ( Priests represent 19% and deacons 3%.) Most of these chaplains minister within health-care institutions (general hospitals, nursing/retirement homes, hospices, mental hospitals, and rehabilitation centers.) As health care delivery changes in this country, a growing number of parishes and clusters of parishes are appointing certified chaplains to oversee all pastoral care. In December 1996, there were 294 such ministers among the membership. According to Father Joseph Driscoll, Executive Director of NACC, "what makes such ministers uniquely prepared is their training and skill level and their primary involvement with people at times of sickness and crisis."
The American Catholic Correctional Chaplains Association includes 230 members who minister in federal, state, county and municipal prisons. Fifty-five per cent are lay, a percentage that has grown steadily since 1990 when almost all the chaplains were ordained. In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, for example, there are 61 Catholic Chaplains, 9 of whom are women.
A smaller association is the National Conference of Airport Chaplains. Their membership includes 40 chaplains; one woman is among the six lay members. The Catholic Campus Ministry Association, on the other hand, numbers 1800 members at 1200 sites. Half of their membership is lay. They minister to the 3.5 million Catholic students who are not on Catholic college campuses.
Each of these associations is recognized by the USCC Commission on Certification and Accreditation and certifies ministers in its particular area.
From Our Tradition . . .
Laity Can Be Called in Different Ways . . .
The Apostolate of the Laity is a sharing in the church's saving mission. Through Baptism and Confirmation all are appointed to this apostolate by the Lord himself. ... Besides this apostolate which belongs to absolutely every Christian, the laity can be called in different ways to more immediate cooperation in the apostolate of the hierarchy, like those men and women who helped the apostle Paul in the Gospel, working hard in the Lord (see. Phil. 4-3; Rom. 16:3 ff.) They may, moreover, be appointed by the hierarchy to certain ecclesiastical offices which have a spiritual aim.
Lumen Gentium #33
NCCV Vocation Resources Include Materials for Lay Ministers
The National Coalition for Church Vocations, a coalition of organizations promoting vocations for the church, have published a catalogue which includes materials for all church vocations, including lay ministry.
The "Make a World of Difference" series designed for high schoolers and young adults includes separate leaflets and brochures for brothers, diocesan priests, missionaries, religious priests, and sisters, as well as lay ministers. The leaflet is a concise introduction to lay ministers, their Call/Vocation and Lifestyle. The text refers to both part-time volunteer lay ministers and those who "usually acquire a graduate degree in a theological science and participate in additional training for specialized ministry." The 40 page brochure includes accounts written by 12 lay ministers about their call and life in ministry.
The "Make Things Happen" series of posters designed for grade schools, includes posters for brothers, priests, and sisters as well as lay ministers.
All the materials are available from the Coalition at 1-800-671-NCCV.
From Around the World . . .
Latin American Bishops Continue Discussion of Lay Ministry Issues
In March 1996, the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM) again sponored a conference to continue the discussion on lay ministry. CELAM plans to develop a database which will include all documents on lay ministry from the different countries.
CELAM is also continuing to group all lay ministerial activity into three categories: Service of the Word (Lector), of the Liturgy (Acolyte), and of Charity (combination of Lector and Acolyte).
The top issue selected by the participants of the CELAM conference is the formation of lay ministers. Note that the third highest issue selected by U.S. Bishops was also formation. Spiritual formation is to be key, in addition to academic formation. To address this, CELAM will be developing continent-wide training requirements.
To improve information flow, CELAM will develop and maintain a directory of persons responsible for lay ministry throughout the continent. In addition, CELAM is encouraging use of technology to facilitate communication.
CELAM is also recommending that every Episcopal Conference within Latin America establish a "subcommission" on lay ministry.
With respect to training, CELAM is also insisting on a renewal of ecclesiological formation in all seminaries. They recommend that classes or courses on lay ministry be taught in all seminaries. In addition, they are insisting on increased interactions between lay ministers and seminarians as part of seminary training. Note that this helps to address the U.S. bishops' second highest issue, relationship between lay and ordained ministers.
The issue of the theology of lay ministries was also noted as being an important issue. This was the top issue selected by U.S. bishops.
Copies of the report (official copy in Spanish, unofficial translation in English) are available from the NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity Women and Youth, Lay Ministry Project Coordinator.
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Episcopalian Diocese Focuses on Total Ministry Program
A recent convention of the Episcopalian Diocese of Northern California focused on the Total Ministry Program. One of the convention speakers, the Rt. Rev. Stewart Zabriskie, Bishop of Nevada, whose diocese has used the program, said "Total ministry is a ministering community, not just a community gathered around a minister."
The Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb, Bishop of Northern California, also addressed the convention, saying " Total Ministry moves away from a primary focus on the ministry of the ordained and encourages the ministry of the laity in the mutual work of ministry. What I ask is that each of us, lay and ordained, seriously examine and pray about the call to ministry that we have been given."
The Living Church: The Magazine for Episcopalians, December 29, 1996.