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
News about Books about Ministry...
Parishes and Parish Ministers by Monsignor Philip J. Murnion and David DeLambo, published by the National Pastoral Life Center and sent to every bishop in May, is also available at bulk prices from the Center - 212-431-7825.
Together in God's Service: Toward A Theology of Ecclesial Lay Ministry, the papers from the colloquium sponsored by the subcommittee, was awarded second place in the theology category and honorable mention in the pastoral ministry category by the Catholic Press Association. In their comments, the Association said "the authors of the articles are well chosen and their contributions to their colloquium excellent. The topic grounds the quality of the book: the appearance of ecclesial lay ministry in the church today. The emergence of this phenomenon and its implications and concerns are of the utmost importance."
Theology of Ministry: Completely Revised Edition by Thomas F. O'Meara, O.P. has recently been published by Paulist Press (1-800-218-1903). In his preface, Father O'Meara writes "The following chapters are more than a revision of the first book: retaining much of the material, they are a rearrangement that is both reduction and expansion....Catholics are still, thirty years after Vatican II, experiencing one of the deepest upheavals in church structure in Christian history. The following pages try to be faithful to the revelation of ministry and also to explain lucidly why ministry has been changing - indeed, why, under the aegis of the Holy Spirit, it must change."
An Unconditional Love Story: Meeting the People of the Sea by Karen M. Lai has recently been published by Mall Publishing (5731 West Howard, Niles, IL 60714) . Mrs. Lai, who is the port chaplain in Galveston-Houston and who represented the seaport chaplains at one of the subcommittee consultations, recounts her ministerial experiences with the men and women of the sea and their families.
Jubilee Day for Lay Ministers November 26, 2000
(more information in next issue)
Subcommittee Consults with Priests and Deacons and Prepares Final Report
The Subcommittee on Lay Ministry began its consultations with priests and deacons in May when Bishops Dunne and Wcela convened seventeen priests from the Rockville Centre diocese to discuss some of the conclusions of the subcommittee and some of the findings of Parishes and Parish Ministers. The group, which included pastors, associate pastors and a seminary dean, emphasized the necessity of clear distinctions between ordained and lay ecclesial ministers and the complementary and collaborative, not competitive, differences of their roles. They also noted the importance of appropriate education and formation and the need for church recognition of the sense of vocation experienced by lay ecclesial ministers. They saw helping individuals discern and test a call to ministry as one of the most important responsibilities of pastors.
Similar consultations with other priests and deacons are scheduled for different parts of the country throughout the summer and early fall.
Meanwhile, the subcommittee has been preparing its final report which will be distributed to all bishops before the November meeting. That report, which is organized around the six priority issues identified early in the project, will include subcommittee conclusions and proposals as well as a summary of subcommittee activities.
New Satellite Theological Education Program (STEP) Piloted
At least three dioceses (Erie, Reno, Winona) will be participating in a pilot project of the Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame this fall. Designed for dioceses that have far-flung pastoral sites at great distances from the diocesan see, the project will include pre-prepared videos, on-site facilitation, on-line connection and interactive dialogue with theology professors that is real-time, multi-site, and simultaneous. As a follow-up for the STEP production programs, Notre Dame will prepare a website that will provide a bibliography, brief articles, opportunity for dialogue with the professors, and interaction with other learners.
The pilot program is the result of year-long research by the Institute for Church Life with bishops and diocesan pastoral leaders. Topics for the four programs scheduled during 1999-2000 are Discipleship and ministry empowered by Baptism, What do we do when we gather at Eucharist, The integration of faith and everyday life, and Pastoral collaboration: How do we do all this together?
Further information: Thomas C. Cummings, Institute for Church Life, Notre Dame, 219-631-5510.
From Our Tradition
Vocation to Ecclesial Lay Ministry ... a Vocation to Build up the Church
In the language of faith, a vocation from God is a story of connection to him and relationship to others. The vocation of all the baptized is to remain close to God in order to transform the world. The vocation to Christian marriage unites a man and a woman in Christ for the life of their own family and the life of the world. The vocation to single life as a lay man or lay woman is always a calling to life in the service of others. The vocation to ecclesial lay ministry is a vocation to build up the Church. The vocation to consecrated life unites men and women to God and to each other in their religious communities or secular institutes. The vocation to diaconate and ordained priesthood configures men to Christ for the salvation of his people. Vocations connect; they relate those called to God and then, in a particular way, to others....
Vocations begin when people trust enough to surrender their life to God and to others. Vocations develop when people grow in the conviction that God's will and not theirs should be the guiding force in their life. A generous church creates an atmosphere in which vocations can flourish.
Francis Cardinal George OMI, "Staying Spiritually Connected: Vocations versus Violence," The New World, May 2, 1999
From Our Jewish & Christian Neighbors
A New Approach to Youth Ministry Includes Some Old Practices
Mark Yaconelli who directs the youth ministry and spirituality project at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo describes a "new" approach to youth ministry in a recent article in Christian Century. Noting the many job openings in youth ministry among all churches, he suggests that the model for youth ministry benefits from some re-thinking. There have been three popular models: 1) Entertainment: "designed to keep kids safe while creating attractive associations with religious institutions through ski trips, game nights rafting trips and other fun activity" with staff, parents and church members as administrators and chaperones. 2) Charismatic youth leader: "church members expect the youth minister to mediate the holy through his or her own spiritual charisma. 3) Information-centered: "assumes that youth ministry consists simply of teaching Christian content through common educational practices."
Burned out after three years in a ministry based on the entertainment and charisma models, Mr. Yaconelli sought spiritual direction and earned a master's degree in Christian spirituality. He then developed and implemented a contemplative approach to youth ministry at a Presbyterian church in San Anselmo. That approach brings together a small group of adults from the congregation who became an intentional spiritual community rather than chaperones or committee members. These adult leaders gather regularly for prayer, spoken and silent, alternating between lectio divina and what Mr. Yaconelli describes as "a form of the Ignatian awareness examen." These leaders found youth ministry enriching rather than draining and at weekly youth group, the young people and adults together engage in various spiritual practices.
Subsequently, with funding from the Lilly Endowment, 15 churches from diverse racial-ethnic, socioeconomic, geopgraphic and denominational settings tested this contemplative approach to youth ministry. Those congregations reported
- Individual spiritual renewal. Many youth ministers described a radical deepening of their own discipleship.
- Redesign of youth ministry structures. Youth ministries are no longer run by one person but by groups of people in community, listening for God.
- Congregational reformation . Most of the congregations have redesigned worhip to allow time for silence, meditative singing, biblical meditation and other contemplative practices.
- Youth engaged in sprititual practices. The junior high school students at one United Methodist Church overwhelmingly named lectio divina as the highlight of their confirmation class.
"Youth Ministry: A Contemplative Approach," Christian Century, April 21-28, 1999, pp.450-454.
From Around the World
South Asian Regional Laity Meeting Issues Report and Recommendations
The Second South Asian Regional Laity Meeting brought together 47 lay people, five bishops and five priests in October, 1998. Their theme was The Role and Mission of the Laity in the Multireligious Context of South Asia. Their report mentions "the awesome majesty of the Himalayas lit by the full moon [which] was a reminder of God's constant presence and abiding grace" and "the recent explosions of nuclear devices in the region [which] added a new dimension and exacerbated tension and intolerance."
Among the insights cited in the report is the realization that "the common reverence and adoration for the 'mystery of the presence of God' marks the beginning of understanding and acceptance of each other." One of the challenges is "to tirelessly implement Small Christian Communities and obtain the sponsorship of the national conferences of bishops for this as a pastoral program for the renewal of the Church in South Asia."
Among the twelve recommendations are that "greater attention be given to the formation of the laity expecially in the areas of spirituality, leadership and inter-religious dialogue; create fora for a more open exchange between laity and clergy; and recognize and appreciate women's contribution in Church and society."
Weltkirche, 9/1998, pp. 265- 267