Posted June 5, 2007
More than 20,000 in Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation
Taken from the CARA Report
Subscriptions can be obtained by writing to:
2300 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
The CARA Report raises a critical question for the present Church: Are we attracting enough multicultural ministers to serve our exploding multiculture populations? In some parishes, as many as 27 different languages are being spoken. Are foreign languages a part of Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation? Are we being prepared to minister to a church whose cultural mix is changing by the day.
Considering a nationally acclaimed institution for lay ministry training? How about looking at the programs offered by The Washington Theological Union [WTU] in Washington, D.C. http://www.wtu.edu/ Not only are they excellent, but the mix of the students is exactly the mix of people lay ecclesial minister experience in their parishes. Add to this that another free education is available to students of WTU in the historical monuments that are in and surround Washington, D.C. An hour away are the historical sites of the Civil War, and within the city free museums and national galleries of art are numerous and easy to access. Two hours away, a student can either go to eastern shore, or drive to the Allegheny mountains.
If you aren’t interested in being a lay eccleisial minister, how about considering a sabbatical at WTU? You can structure it to your liking, and the time allotted you.
Of 308 active lay ecclesial ministry formation programs identified in 2006-07, 253 or 82% responded. Of these, 16 supplied program information but not enrollment data. These programs report a total of 20,240 lay ecclesial ministry candidates, of whom 13,523 (67%) are working toward a certificate in ministry and 6,717 (33%) are seeking a graduate degree in ministry. This represents a 26% increase over th total reported by 226 programs in 2005-06.
There are a number of different types of lay ecclesial ministry formation programs. The CARA survey found that 47% were certificate-only programs, 41% were combined degree-certificate programs, 7 % were degree-only from a Catholic college or university, and 5% were degree-only from a seminary or school of theology.
Distance learning and online coursework are increasing aspects of lay ministry formation. Formation programs responded as follows to the question, “Is any part of your program offered online?” Thirty-two percent said students can enroll online, 22% offer coursework online, and 1% offers degree completion online.
Academic formation and certification are central to lay ministry formation, but spiritual formation and practical experience are also important components of preparation for ministry. Of the 253 active programs, 55% say that formal spiritual is required, and 48% say the program includes a field education/internship requirement. Some programs (37%) require both.
The profile of lay ecclesial ministry formation program participants finds 64% lay women, 33% lay men, 2% women religious, and 1% religious brothers. Six in ten students are in their 40s and 50s, with 27% under age 40 and 135 age 60 or older. Seventy-one percent are white, 18% Hispanic/Latino, 4% are black, 3% are Asian, and 4% are other.