Congar Institute for Ministry Development December, 2012.San Antonio, TX     

Christmas Blessings!

The Incarnation of Divine Grace which is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ that we celebrate at Christmas gives us the starting point for understanding what it is we are trying to do in ministry formation. Called to be the continuing incarnation of the transforming power of Divine Grace, that is, called to be the Body of Christ, preparing to serve as an ecclesial minister can be understood as the transformation of the person into a more authentic presence of Divine Grace. In more traditional terms, it is the growth of the faithful into the image of Christ. What all these understandings have in common is that preparation for ministry is not merely about knowing the right stuff. It involves the whole person and that person in relationship to a community, and those relationships having transforming power so that the mission of love given to Christ is continued in His Church, anointed with the same Holy Spirit with which he was anointed. What we commemorate at Christmas is what we are called to continue in our very lives. Formation for service to the Body of Christ is a transforming, holistic, integral, and relational process.

Fr. Wayne Cavalier, OP

The Emmaus Formation Program, a sign of Hope in our Church.

By Alejandro Siller-González


My recent trip to the Diocese of Salt Lake City in November was particularly special for me. I experienced the warm welcoming and hospitality of the members of the community and its leadership, and I attended my first session of the EMAUS Hispanic formation program during their bimonthly weekend session. In addition, I received the wonderful gift of nature of an autumn long-weekend snow storm which put a “cherry” on top to my experience.

This year the season of autumn and Advent has been for me a time of hope; a time to experience stillness, silence and listening and a life of simplicity that prepares me for winter; a sense of dying in preparation for a new birth of my life in Jesus. I believe that similarly, our whole Church today is being called by the Holy Spirit to a long “autumn and Advent season” in our life of faith. I am hopeful that the New Evangelization, called for by our Pope and Church leadership, finds us with hearts filled with the stillness, silence and listening and the simplicity of life to allow the presence of the Holy Spirit in each one of us. I am also hopeful because I believe that Jesus wants to be re-born in our hearts and in our lives once again.

During my visit to the EMAUS program session, I saw the response of members of the local Church of SLC to the New Evangelization. Neither the strong snow storm nor the black ice kept the participants and diocesan organizers from attending the weekend learning session. The local organizers were there by 7:30 AM or earlier to set up pending details for the class; they had worked the day before to set up the room. People came from “over the mountains and everywhere” for as far as a three and a half hours drive. One participant shared with us on how he had gone off the road on Sunday because of “black ice” and managed to get back on the road to arrive safely to his class. I admire and respect the community’s passion, fervor and ardor to prepare for the New Evangelization.

We at the Congar Institute feel blessed and humbled to be able to serve by facilitating the Spanish-language EMAUS formation program in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.

We are grateful to the Hispanic Ministry leadership and that of the Religious Education Department, but specially to the diocese bishop, Most Reverent John Wester for the trust he has placed in us and our mission.

Invitation to Serve on USCCB Subcommittee



Fr. Wayne has accepted an invitation by the Co-Chair of the USCCB Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service to serve as a Consultant. The purpose of the new subcommittee is to assist the bishops in reviewing and approving certification standards and procedures to be used on a voluntary basis by arch/dioceses and national organizations in the certification of specialized ecclesial ministers. It also offers consultative services aimed at improving the quality of lay ministry formation programs that are sponsored by arch/dioceses and by academic institutions.

In issuing the invitation, Dr. Harold Dudley, Assistant Director, stated, “You were chosen after extensive consultation with the members and staff of the subcommittee, colleagues, and the General Secretary of the Conference. Of particular help will be your expertise and proven wisdom as a founder of the Congar Institute. You have fostered collaboration among providers of ministry formation to help make excellent lay ecclesial ministry formation resources available to under-served dioceses. Your efforts have made leadership programs available to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them.”

In accepting the invitation, Fr. Wayne observed, “I am honored and delighted by your invitation. The collaborating organizations that make up the Congar Institute have invested a great deal in this work, and they will be pleased that these resources are being tapped by the larger church. We share the conviction that we are at a significant turning point regarding ministry in the U.S. Church and the work you and the Subcommittee are doing is essential to guiding us through it.”

Visit to Novitiate

By Fr. Wayne Cavalier, OP


“Co-responsibility” is the term that Pope Benedict used in his recent letter to a gathering of lay leaders to describe the relationship of the laity to the “being and activity of the Church.” This term is a far cry from the description of another Pope from not so long ago often summed up as “pay, pray, and obey.” I read this letter with our Dominican novices recently at the invitation of Fr. Scott O’Brien, OP, Novice Master. My purpose was to discuss the role of the laity in the church and the mission of the Congar Institute. Along the way, I shared my vocation story and how I had come to commit my ministry to the development of lay leadership in the church. In fact, my vocation to ecclesial service or ministry was clear to me before I found my place in the Order of Preachers. I began exploring that call while still certain that I was not called to the diocesan priesthood, even though the priest I admired most (and still do) and who really called forth my ministerial vocation is a diocesan priest. I came to discover that my vocation was to serve as a priest in support of this co-responsible role of the laity. The Congar Institute came out of this vocation. However, it would be inadequate and unfair to promote a co-responsible role for the laity without at the same time equipping them to accept that role. That makes the mission of the Congar Institute much more than one of advocacy for the role of the laity. Our mission is to use whatever means possible to provide a co-responsible laity with the resources they need to accept fully and responsibly that role.

A Memorable Day at St. George Parish

Photo courtesy of Intermountain Catholic


“Thank you for sending Fr. Dan Dorsey to St. George, Utah as an Advent Retreat speaker … Fr. Dan was funny, warm and down-to-earth. This Advent will be unlike any other as a result of participating with Fr. Dan in ‘Love: The antidote to fear is love and the way to love is forgiveness.’ The day ended too quickly … [this event was] a thoughtful, personally touching retreat as Fr. Dan shared vulnerabilities – in light of sacred text as only a devotee of Christ would be able to do.” Denise Richards, a cohort member of the lay ecclesial ministry formation program in the Diocese of Salt Lake City, shared this testimony with us, one that is very similar to many other comments we received from participants of the Advent Retreat, a day of spiritual formation held this past Dec. 1 in St. George, Utah.

One of our Resource Persons, Fr. Dan Dorsey, a Glenmary Home Missioner priest, facilitated the event. This retreat is part of an Adult Faith Formation Program planned by St. George Parish with the assistance of the Salt Lake City Diocesan Office of Religious Education and the Congar Institute. The event was also open to all the faithful in the far Southwestern region of Utah. About 150 persons attended. What a blessed day!

Intercultural Sensitivity Dialogue with the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

By Alejandro Siller-González


This last month I had the opportunity to gather for a three hour dialogue with three members of the Youth Ministry leadership team. The gathering had the purpose of discussing some issues on cultural diversity to prepare them to participate in the Intercultural Competencies workshop prepared by USCCB and sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Antonio during the first week of December.

Since I had taken this preparation workshop in July, I was able to share with them on what to expect .We shared about the long and difficult journey it was to fully embrace and name our own culture. We each have cultural roots that originate from a variety of other cultures, some that we actually reject because we see them as inferior to the others.

We also discussed about cultural diversity challenges in order to share the essential beliefs of our own faith, sacraments and popular religiosity. How can we communicate clearly and equally the truths of our faith to people from different cultures and languages, without distorting those truths as we present them?

One of my conclusions and concerns was the importance to grow in Intercultural Sensitivity so that we do not hurt ourselves or hurt others by setting barriers that divide us as a community and even break our own cultural identity.

The group was led by Joan Martinez and I congratulated them because of their willingness to touch difficult cultural and ethnic issues that presently divide us in our Church, our families, our work teams and that many times are frustrating and painful to us.

I pray that more of us follow this group’s initiative to be able to better serve the Church in San Antonio with respect, tolerance, acceptance and compassion towards community diversity, and join the preparation programs made available to all of us through the USCCB Secretariat for Diversity.


285 Oblate Drive
San Antonio, TX 78216-6693
Email: congarinstitute@ost.edu
Phone: 210-341-1366 Ext. 269
Fax: 210-341-4519

Follow Us

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Marketing you can trust
We will never share your email address with anyone