Catholic Lay Ministers

House
Catholic Lay Ministers:
The House That God Builds

by Frances Vogel-Montaño

You've heard the call to "Come follow me." You've responded as generously as you are able. You are in love with the Lord. You are committed to the Church. You plunged into ministry with excitement and great expectations. What more do you need?

In the Church today, lay ministers-people like you and I, know that it takes a lot more than deep faith and enthusiasm to minister with confidence and competence. Though both of these are essential qualities in the minister, they are really like the path leading to the doorway of Church ministry. Commitment is the doorway. What about a firm foundation and strong solid walls? And a weather-worthy roof?

A solid background in theology, gained through persevering study, provides the firm foundation, and that often takes years to build. Then training in the practical skills for doing that ministry well are the strong solid walls. These walls are built by weaving together many hours of training by professionals and many other hours of hands-on experience.

An open mind provides windows to shed light on all this learning and keep it applicable to the lives of ordinary people. Attending to family, to those we love and for whom we are responsible, in the midst of ministerial duties, contributes a flow of fresh sweet air throughout this house. And a constant connection to the Church community is the roof that protects and shields and holds everything together. Without this attachment to the community of the People of God, we are an empty shell in danger of falling apart.

Most of us need some help with the foundation and walls of our house. Here's a list of some of what's available from the diocese to assist with the building process:

Start with the Basic Level Theology courses in Scripture, Jesus, Church, and Church History which have are offered all around the diocese and can be offered in any parish, just for the asking.

Participate in one of the Schools of Ministry, where you meet one Saturday a month for three years with other ministers to explore together these areas of our faith: Spirituality and Prayer, Faith Foundations, Scripture, Church History, Ecclesiology, Sacraments and Worship, Personal and Social Morality, Leadership, Human Development, and Skills for Ministry. These Intensive Level programs of formation for ministers are held in the Northwest Deanery (Education for Ministry, call Joanne Dupont at 689-2404 ), the Santa Fe Deanery (Jornada de Fe, call Juanita Montoya at 471-6489), and the Albuquerque Deaneries (Emmaus Journey, call Frances V. Montano at 831-8151).

Venture into some Advanced Level courses in Scripture, Theology, Church History, Morality, Prayer and Liturgy, Discipleship, Spirituality, Communication Skills, etc. These courses are offered occasionally by the diocese, by parishes, and by other Catholic groups like the Catholic Charismatic Center, the Cursillo Movement, retreat houses, prayer centers, and monasteries, the Center for Action and Contemplation, the Santa Fe Institute for Spirituality, the Dominican Ecclesial Institute, national organizations, etc.

Experience the excitement of taking part in the Youth Ministry Certificate program (call 831-8145), the process of Certification for Catechetical Leaders (call 831-8129), the Public Discipleship Project (an exciting learning experience coming in spring 2000, call 831-8167), the training process for Evangelization Teams (call 831-8164), training for catechesis with persons with disabilities (call 831-8129), the Sponsor Couple training (call 831-8117) and many more.

Deepen your Catholic faith by taking an ecumenical course in Scripture, Theology, Church History, and Spiritual Direction. These Advanced Level courses are offered by the Ecumenical Institute for Ministry of the New Mexico Conference of Churches, and are an excellent way to understand Catholic belief against the backdrop of mainline Christian denominations. Fall courses begin soon in the Santa Fe and Albuquerque areas. Call 255-1509 for more information.

Join with a small group of fellow learners to study together a topic of our faith or a skill for your particular area of ministry. You can use one of the video programs available on loan from the Ministry Resource Center of the Archdiocese or from your parish. If you have not yet visited the MRC, it’s worth the trip from wherever! Or try one of the courses available by mail from the University of Dayton and the Catechist magazine.

Plunge into the world of graduate theological education! You can continue your present work/lifestyle and begin working toward a Master’s degree in Theological Studies (call 831-8151). The degree is offered by St. Norbert College, and the classes are held in Albuquerque (possibly Santa Fe) on Saturdays or weeknights. OR maybe you are from an "under-represented population" and are willing to put the rest of your life on hold for two years to study theology on a full scholarship! The Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley, California offers this scholarship (call 831-8129).

Whatever you do, get started or re-started on this wonderful project of ministry formation, responding to the urgings of the Master Builder.