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
Web Page for Ministry Lists Openings, Resumés
http:www.ministryconnect.org/ is the address for a web site sponsored by the Ministry Resource Center in Scotch Plains, NJ. MinistryConnect posts available positions by geographic regions and by categories, among which are Administration, Education, Health Care, Parish/ Pastoral/Spiritual, and Music/Youth Ministry. It also posts resumés, and spiritual and educational programs. In addition the site has links to other online databases of employment opportunities including the site sponsored by St. John's School of Theology and Seminary. The Ministry Resource Center is a collaborative venture of 15 congregations of women religious. Funding for the site was made possible by several foundations. Information about posting fees and membership is available from the web page or from the Director, Bernadette Dougherty, SSJ, 908-889-6425.
Graduate Program for Pastoral Ministries with the Deaf to Begin
A partnership of the Institute for Pastoral Ministries of St. Thomas University and the Schott Center of the Archdiocese of Miami has planned a Center for Education in Deaf Ministry which will offer a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministries with the Deaf. The program will be fully accessible to deaf people and sensitive to the learning processes of deaf people. It will also be open to hearing people with competence in sign language. The International Catholic Foundation for the Deaf have encouraged the development of the program, believed to be the only one in the world. Guiding the development of the program have been a team of experts, four of whom are deaf and four of whom are hearing. The program will include foundational theological courses, ministry skill development and a major ministerial project. It will be available through intensive residential learning opportunities at the Schott Center, on-line courses and practicum /internships. Admission requirements include a bachelor of arts degree, competence in sign language, a recommendation from the Church community, and computer literacy. The first students will be accepted in the winter of 2000. Further Information from Mercedes Iannone, D. Min., St. Thomas University, Coordinator,M.A.Program 305-628-6693
Increases in Number of Formation Programs and Students Reported
In 1986, the NCCB Committee on the Laity published the results of the first survey of Lay Ministry Formation Programs. At that time there were 206 programs in 110 dioceses enrolling 10,500 students. Subsequent surveys have been conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). In a recently published overview of their research for 1998-99, CARA reports that there are 296 programs in 150 dioceses enrolling over 29,000 students. The nearly 50% increase in the number of programs and the almost three-fold increase in the number of participants, the report says, reflect how "the role of the laity and their participation in the ministry of the Church have evolved considerably in the decades since the Second Vatican Council." The overview identifies 183 programs as sponsored by a diocese or archdiocese and 96 as sponsored by a Catholic college or university. Of the diocesan-sponsored programs, 11 are affiliated with a seminary and 95 are affiliated with a college or university. Certificates are awarded by 78% of all programs, academic degrees by 55%, and both academic degrees and certificates by 37%. Most of the degree granting programs offer graduate degrees, although a few grant associate's and/or baccalaureate degrees. Among the most commonly offered graduate degrees are the M.A. in Pastoral Studies or Pastoral Ministry (77 programs), the M.A. in Religious Education (60 programs) and the M.A. in Theology or Theological Studies (56 programs). Nine programs offer doctoral degrees: three the Ph.D., three the D.Min., and three the S.T.D. The overview also provides profiles of the lay ministry program candidates. Lay women are 58% of the total; lay men, 31%. The largest age cohort (35%) are those between 40 and 49; next (27%) are those between 50 and 59. The racial and ethnic background profile reports that 71% are white, 23% are Hispanic/Latino. Based on the 1998-1999 Catholic Ministry Formation Directory, a single volume containing a complete directory with detailed information about all seminary, diaconate and lay ministry formation programs in the United States, the Overview also includes summary information on seminary and diaconate programs. Both the Directory and the Overview are available from CARA, 202-687-8080.
C O R R E C T I O N
The phone number for Chuck Siebenand, Director of Pastoral Planning, Diocese of Oakland, was incorrect in the last Update. It is 510-267-8358.
From Our Tradition . . .
Renewal of Role of the Laity Springs from an Interior Renewal
Two years ago I took the opportunity of this address to affirm and encourage our priests in their vocation, and also to speak of some of the challenges we are experiencing together. Today, I would like to do the same with regard to the many lay people who have dedicated themselves to the church through professional service, volunteer work, or simply the daily living of the Christian life. ...
It has ben a great joy to see and to share in the flowering of so many gifts through the activity of the laity in bringing their faith to bear on the secular arena and their participation in the evolving forms of consultation and advice within the church; in the professional services they provide when they use their talents and abilities for the church rather than the "marketplace"; in the wide variety of their volunteer work without which the church could not carry on her multifaceted mission; and in the liturgy. In all these ways, lay people have added vitality to my own vocation to such an extent that it is hard to recall church life being any other way.
I would like to dispose of the idea, often expressed, that this emphasis on the role of the laity is merely pragmatically useful, given the fewer priests in so many areas of our nation. While the laity have certainly helped cope with the situation, the renewal of their role is more than a pragmatic necessity. It springs from an interior renewal of the very meaning of what it is to be church in which we are guided by the Holy Spirit who renews the face of the earth.
Most Reverend Anthony M. Pilla, Bishop of Cleveland, Opening Address , National Conference of Catholic Bishops and U. S. Catholic Conference, November 16, 1998
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
"Ordinary People" Encouraged to Take Classes at Seminaries
A recent article in Christianity Today invites "everyone" to spend a year or take a class or two at a seminary. Officials at four seminaries (Asbury Theological Seminary, Multnomah Biblical Seminary, Beeson Divinity School, and Denver Seminary) helped writer L. Katherine Robbin come up with eight reasons why people who do not aspire to becoming pastors should consider theological education.
- People would discover that seminary training focuses at least as much on developing the heart as it does on preparing the mind.
- People would learn that a seminary education is not just academic but very practical in scope.
- People would become better parishioners, more capable of serving the church and the world.
- People would have a far greater appreciation for what their seminary-trained pastor has been through and prepared for.
- People (even those who attend part-time) would form lifelong relationships with others who have the same goals and dreams for serving Christ and his kingdom.
- People would meet some of the most dedicated, talented, knowledgeable, and caring teachers in the world.
- A seminary experience - even one class - might just change a person's life or career direction.
- People would develop a far greater appreciation for the seminary as a vital ministry of the church.
Gregg Morrison, director of external relations at Beeson, comments that "Leadership is the domain of everyone in the church, not just the pastor and the paid staff. No church can survive, let alone thrive, without effective lay leaders." Further, "When individual lay people demonstrate that they take the Christian faith seriously, the effect on others can be profound and lasting. "Christianity Today, February 8, 1999, pp. 81-117.
From Around the World
Bishops of Argentina Approve Guidelines for Basic Ecclesial Communities
At their October 1998 meeting, the bishops of Argentina approved guidelines for basic ecclesial communities. (According to the 1998 Catholic Almanac, Argentina has over 31.5 million Catholics in 2,480 parishes with 5,856 priests.)
The introduction to the guidelines refers to basic ecclesial communities as a "happy reality [which] have received recognition from the Supreme Magisterium of the Church." It notes the rich variety of groups and communities and their existence in diverse settings throughout the country. The description of the communities mentions "lasting elements": the importance of the Word of God, the experience of brotherhood, the option for the poor, a missionary and solidifying dimension, coordination and representation within a parochial community, the establishing of lay ministries, social involvement and the anxiety to be a catalyst for transformation.
The guidelines emphasize the essential link between the communities and the parish and diocese. They also remind lay members of the communities that their mission "goes beyond service in inter-church tasks; they have to live Christian values within the human realities where they work." While warning against the communities' attaching themselves "to a specific political current," the guidelines highlight the importance of the communities' living out the "church's preferential option for the poor."
The guidelines recommend that "in the absence of a priest in places a great distance from the parish church, the communities offer on Sundays the possibility of a celebration of the Word led by a properly prepared and authorized lay person. Ministers instituted by the bishop find a concrete place here for their mission."
The conclusion notes that small ecclesial communities are ways "in which the responsibility of the lay faithful becomes visible."
Catholic International, March 1999, pp.142-145