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Posted November 1, 2005

New study finds lay ecclesial ministry still growing
in United States

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A new national study reports that there are now nearly 31,000 paid lay parish ministers and more than 2,000 others who work in parish ministry at least 20 hours a week on a volunteer basis.

It found that since 1990 there have been major improvements in pay for the paid ministers. It also found striking advances since 1990 in the involvement of dioceses in the training, screening, certification and commissioning of lay parish ministers, in providing them with continuing education and in setting employment standards and salary ranges for them.

"For the first time in the history of our country, there are more paid professional lay ministers in our parishes than there are priests," said Father Eugene F. Lauer, director of the National Pastoral Life Center in New York, which conducted the study.

It was commissioned by the Committee on the Laity of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and funded by the Lilly Endowment.