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
Baltimore Archdiocese and Boston College Institute Give Tuition Assistance to Lay Ministers
The Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry at Boston College recently inaugurated tuition assistance programs for lay ministers. Both programs help those individuals already working in parish, school or diocesan agency ministries to pursue advanced degrees in theology or other closely related subjects.
In Baltimore, the program is seen as a way of implementing one of the recommendations of From Words to Deeds, the recent publication of the NCCB Committee on Women in Society and in the Church. While the program is open to both men and women, the fact that 82% of parish ministers are women probably means that more women than men will benefit from the program, thus responding to the document's suggestion that Church leaders "provide opportunities and resources, including scholarships, for women to acquire the education, spiritual formation, and skills needed for church leadership positions."According to Sheila Kelly, director of the archdiocesan human resources department, the program initially will focus on those currently employed in positions of ministry or those being considered for such positions. Also initially, it will be available only for studies at the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, but other institutions are expected to be added as the program grows. Further information: www.archbalt.org/Leadership Development or 410-547-5470.
Candidates for the Boston College Loyola Scholarships must have five years or more of experience working in a parish or other diocesan setting in a New England diocese. Claire Lowery, D. Min., Director of the Institute, commented that "The strongest barrier to the ongoing education of Catholic ministers today is financial. We have reached a point in the life of the Church where there is an increasing need for Catholic parishes, schools and hospitals to have well-educated and spiritually formed personnel." Dr. Lowery added that the Loyola Scholarship is "a strong statement" that Boston College "is willing to do what it can to support the church in New England."
Further information: email:firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-487-1167
Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers Set for November 26, 2000
As part of its planning for the Jubilee Year, the NCCB Subcommittee on the Millennium has identified November 26, 2000 as a Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers. The purposes of Jubilee Days are to honor and remember a particular group of people for what they have contributed to the life of the Church and to society and to offer deeper reflections on the challenges to be faced in living the Gospel in society. It is the first time lay ministers have been identified as a group to be honored and remembered by the Church.
The Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth have prepared resource materials for the Jubilee Day for Women (March 25) ; similar materials will be prepared for other Jubilee Days: Single Persons (April 27) , Older Persons (September 24), and Families (November 23). These materials will be published in the Jubilee 2000 resource newsletter which is distributed by the NCCB Secretariat for the Third Millennium and the Jubilee Year 2000. Materials for the Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers are scheduled to be in the July/August edition of the newsletter. The materials, which will also be available on the Web, include ideas for celebrating the Jubilee Day and suggestions for prayers and prayer services. A media packet will also be prepared for the Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers, using the occasion to tell the wonderful stories of lay ministers to the general public.
November 26, 2000 is the Feast of Christ the King and the Sunday within the Thanksgiving weekend. For some dioceses or parishes that may enhance the celebration; for others it may impede it and make another date more appropriate. The resources can be adapted for whatever uses and date are most appropriate in the local situation.
From Our Tradition . . .
Pontifical Council for the Laity Discusses Lay Ministry During Ad Limina Visits
A recent newsletter from the Pontifical Council for the Laity reported on meeting with groups of Bishops from Spain, the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria during their ad limina visits during 1998. Among the issues discussed were:
Laity formation. The parish is still the essential reference and gathering place for the lay faithful. It is there that many receive a basic formation through the celebration of the sacraments and the preparatory catechesis. It is important therefore to educate in a sense of communion and for a renewal of missionary responsibility in the parish communities.
Lay ministries and lay people as full-time pastoral workers. There was deep reflection on the "sensus Ecclesiae" and the "sentire cum Ecclesia" that should mark their activity.
Pastoral Councils and the catechetical work of lay people.
Greater involvement for women in the Church.
news: Pontifical Council for the Laity, 1, 1998, p.11
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors. . .
Orthodox-Reformed Dialogue Contributes to a Reformed Theology of Ecclesial Ministry
Robert K. Martin of the United Methodist Church and assistant professor of religious education at Yale Divinity School argues in a recent article that all authentic forms of ministry arise out of the worship of the church and are, therefore, liturgically structured. Citing the work of Maria Harris, Dr. Martin identifies the five dimensions of Christian ministry (leitourgia, kerygma, diakonia, didache, and koinonia) and notes that "one does not exist without the others, and if one or more dimensions are absent in an ecclesial event or process, the ministry of Christ in the church is diminished."
Among the functions of the liturgy of worship are an obligatory response to God, an ecstatic response of thanksgiving and praise, spiritual quickening, and the performance of cultic rituals. For Dr. Martin, the more profound function of worship is "the transformation of ordinary modes and patterns of existence into an expression of the divine life shared among the Persons of the Trinity and into which we are bid welcome."
A proper understanding that the One God is three divine Persons united in a communion of coequality and co-eternality is crucial for an understanding of Christian ministry. Dr. Martin concludes that "all ecclesial ministries, christologically oriented, are the effluence of the communion we share in Christ, and their ultimate purpose is to extend that communion to the whole world."
Robert K. Martin, "Christian Ministry as Communion," Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 35:3-4, Summer-Fall 1998, 405-424
From Around the World . . .
Jesuit Pre-seminary in London Launches New Formation Program
Campion House at Osterley in London, the Jesuit Pre-seminary, continues to train about 25% of the seminarians in England and Wales. The program there has been re-designed for a Church in which lay ministry is needed as never before. In a recent article in The Tablet, Father Michael Barrow, SJ, the director of Osterley explained the thinking behind the new program.
Father Barrow notes that the number of seminarians has dropped from more than fifty eleven years ago to ten at present. Just as the pattern of parish life is changing, he comments that "the respective roles of priests and lay people are changing too." He cautions against "appointing young, inexperienced men to take charge of parishes before they are fully formed or equipped for such a responsibility" and "the danger of expecting priests to continue beyond an age which is reasonable or advisable." He also comments that "there is a danger of imagining that the roles of priests and lay people will remain the same, except that some of the priests will be married and some women."
Contemporary culture has shifted the position of the Church and religion with many seeking God in personal, individual ways. It has also led to the virtual disappearance of the idea of a lifelong commitment. "Rather than despair, we should see the Church entering a new phase. Alongside those who are dedicating their lives as priests, the Church's mission is now to be carried forward more than ever before, and in a way yet to be fully determined by lay people.
The experience in Britain is not unlike that in North America, with lay people, "usually inspired by the good leadership of a priest," making it possible for parishes to thrive without a resident parish priest. "To amalgamate parishes in an attempt to keep the present structure would often be to ignore the identity of communities which have a life of their own."
According to Father Barrow, "the training of lay people to take such positions of responsibility in the Church must take place in conjunction with the training of priests if there is to be an effective collaborative ministry."
The course at Osterley which had previously emphasized " basic communication and thinking skills with the rudiments of Scripture and catechesis" has been opened to lay people and expanded to include wider experience of pastoral work and human and spiritual development.
Father Barrow concludes,"Perhaps our role may be more directly spiritual than practical, enabling people to appreciate the presence of the Spirit within their own parishes and the work they are doing. This in itself could help bring about the changes the Church needs at parish level, for without an awareness of the power of God working dynamically within the institutional Church, the apostolate would have lost its soul."
Michael Barrow, "A Seminary for the Times," The Tablet, 17 July, 1999, p.1006.