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
Leadership Institute Identifies Elements of Learning Sessions
The Church Leadership Institute of the Archdiocese of Baltimore is based on the commitment of the archdiocese "to assisting Catholic adults in identifying and developing their talents and gifts to enhance the mission and ministries of the church." Its foundational values are that it promotes collaboration; is doctrinal, experiential and participant friendly; and uses technology and fosters accountability. Based on those values, eight "Elements of the Learning Session" have been developed and are shared with every instructor in the Institute. Those elements are
Prayer - which is to be an integral element of each session. Scripture as a constant element of the prayer experience and some active participation by the participants (petitions, recitation of a psalm) are to be included.
Faith Sharing - can be a separate activity or part of the prayer or other activity in the session. It is an opportunity for each participant to express his or her faith and for people to learn and grow from each others' faith experience.
Presentation - (input or content) on the designated topic of the session. The input is done in accord with the content outline of the session.
Small Group Interaction - each participant has the opportunity to give a reaction to the presentation, raise questions , or seek clarifications.
Application to Ministry - an activity to prompt the participants to see and understand how the topic presented is directly related to their ministry as Church Leaders.
Open Forum - an opportunity for participants to raise questions or seek clarification from the instructor in the large group.
Summary of the Session - provided by the instructor near the end of the session, covering the major points of the content and incorporating major points raised during the open forum.
Bridge to the Next Session - identifying the topic, preparatory readings or other preparation.
All instructors are responsible for incorporating all of the elements, although they do not always have to be done in the order listed.
(Further information available from James DeBoy, Director, Division of Leadership Development 410-547-5470; firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Preparation of Lay Ministers Discussed by Bishops and Educators
A day-long meeting in August convened six bishops, three of them from the Lay Ministry Subcommittee, two priests and one sister who are responsible for staffing parishes in their dioceses, and educators from diocesan formation and university graduate programs. The educators represented the formation committees of the National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM) and the Association for Graduate Programs in Ministry (AGPIM).
The topic for the day's discussion was the preparation of lay ministers, i.e. how the needs of the dioceses are being met, the characteristics of the ideal graduates and the experiences of the graduates and parishes or dioceses. At the invitation of Bishop Straling, participants spoke their hopes for the meeting including "that views would be broadened and that there might be some resolution of the tension which sometimes seems to exist between the 'very professionally prepared' and volunteers"; "that more could be learned about how we best heed the multicultural reality of our country and how to bring diverse cultures together for formation"; "that more attention be given to the depth of the spiritual formation component of preparation"; "that we weave a new model that brings us together within a diocese, eliminating the harmful divisions between those prepared in seminaries, graduate programs, diocesan programs."
Participants spoke of the impact of economic differences on parish staffing and the need to move from a too parochial view to a recognition of the world mission of the church. They also spoke of the tension which sometimes exists between the specialist and the generalist and of the need for flexibility in all ministers. The ideal graduate was seen as one who demonstrates the competencies, flexibility, an integration of theological, spiritual, and ministerial learnings, and a rootedness in ecclesial identity. One group expressed the conviction that a paradigm shift is occurring now with more inclusive ministry and diverse social locations; therefore, it is important to recognize, name, and train for it; e.g. credentialling, dioceses helping academic programs with screening and spiritual formation. During the discussion of the need for more dialogue between bishops and academic programs, one bishop made the observation that perhaps not all dioceses are ready for such dialogue, but perhaps some could take the lead and be resources to the others.
Recommendations for the future included providing formation for different cultural groups that are culturally appropriate with the assumption that all should be prepared for the whole church, aware and affirming of all cultures. Another called for examining and promoting ecclesiastical structures that promote ecclesial lay ministry (commissioning, public recognition, access to decision making.)
From Our Tradition . . .
Lineamenta for Synod on The Bishop Cites "life-long" Commitment of Laity
In their many activities, the lay faithful are called to unite their proper personal talent and acquired skills to a forthright testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ. Engaged in the temporal order, the lay faithful, like every other Christian, are called to give account of the hope alive in them (cf. 1Pt 3:15) and to be conscientious in performing the work which is theirs in the contemporary world, precisely because they are waiting in joyful hope for the world to come....
Even though the lay faithful are by vocation concerned primarily with the secular order, it must not be forgotten that they belong to the one Church community of which they form a major part because of their great number. After the Second Vatican Council, new forms of responsible participation for lay women and men developed in the life of diocesan communities and parishes. Thus, the laity now belong to various pastoral councils; they exercise a greater role in various services associated with the liturgy or catechesis; they have the task of teaching Catholic religion in schools, etc....
Certain lay people have also given themselves to various tasks through a long-term - and sometimes life-long - commitment. This collaboration of the lay faithful is certainly invaluable in the requirements of the "new evangelization," particularly where the number of ordained ministers is few.
Lineamenta, Synod of Bishops, X Ordinary Assembly, The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World, pp. 35-36
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Survey of Episcopal Seminaries Reveals Bias toward Ordination Candidates
A recent survey by David Yount of the National Network of Lay Professionals in the Episcopal Church reveals that "despite increasing lay enrollment and even-handed treatment of students pursuing lay vocations, a bias still exists favoring studies toward ordination." The bias appears to come from "ingrained attitudes and from the diversity of lay students that makes them less cohesive and their vocations more diffuse."
Noting that various seminaries have established a variety of programs for their lay students, Yount comments that "Not all are sanguine about the growth of employment for lay professionals in the Church." Most lay professionals seeking employment in the Episcopal Church will probably be working under the supervision of an ordained person. Yount cites Dean Anne B. Kimbell of Berkeley/Yale as acknowledging that "many of those lay positions are part-time and offer only a minimal salary without benefits."
Yount concludes his report with the stories of two women, one who went to the seminary of a "kindred Christian denomination ... more congenial to lay vocations" and another who earned an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity and is currently living "her religious vocation" by working for a literary agency ensuring "the successful acquisition and promotion of good religious books by major publishers."
(callings: a national news-link for lay professionals in the Episcopal Church, No. 27, Summer 1998)
From Around the World
Synod for Oceania to Consider Role of Laity among Other Issues
The theme for the Synod for Oceania, to meet from November 22 until December 12 is Jesus Christ and the People of Oceania, Walking His Way, Telling His Truth and Living His Life. The Instrumentum Laboris for the synod contains several references to the role of the laity in the mission of the church. In the section on the mission of the church, the document states that "the call to mission is especially related to lay Christians" and that "the lay people's renewed responsibility and their missionary activity is a sign of real hope in the Church in Oceania.
In the section on the lay vocation, the document notes that "since the Second Vatican Council, the role of the laity in the life of the Church has developed and expanded to the point that they rightly see themselves as an integral part of the Church." It lists the contributions of the laity as "collaborators in parishes, members of pastoral councils, financial and legal advisors, and catechists and pastoral agents." It also notes that laity "are involved in sacramental preparation, are responsible for youth work and general pastoral activities, and are sometimes called upon, under special circumstances and according to their position in the Church community, to lead services in parishes without ordained ministers."
L'Osservatore Romano, N. 35 - 2 September 1998 pp.4 and 14
Campus Ministers Report Vocational Choices
Seventy -five campus ministers responding to a Catholic Campus Ministry Association survey reported that over the last two years 75 people have entered the seminary, 29 have entered a novitiate, and 92 are doing lay ministry or going to graduate school for ministry.
NCDVD (National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors) News, Fall, 1998, p. 8
|A Call to Obedience and Conversion
My own sense of what lies ahead is that we will all have some very hard work to do, theologically, institutionally, and personally. There will be calls both to obedience and to conversion for all of us. I pray we will have the integrity, the wisdom and the courage that the future calls for. -- Sounds a bit challenging and even daunting, but I think it is real. And, I believe God is present and waiting for us in those real historical dilemmas.