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

Wonderful Convergence

"Breakfast with the Episcopal Advisor to the National Association for Lay Ministry, Bishop John Wester and the coalition responsible for Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation in his Diocese of SaltLake City: Susan Northway, Director of Lay Ministry Formation, Maria Cruz Gray, Director for Hispanic Ministry, Mary Ellen Knuth, Director of Formation for Ministry, Carholic Theological Union, Thomas Cummings, Director of University of Notre Dame Satellite Theological Education Program, and Fr. Wayne Cavalier, OP, Director of the Congar Institute for Ministry Development" Click here for more pictures!

There was a wonderful convergence at this year’s National Association for Lay Ministry annual conference held just outside Washington, DC May 31 – June 2. First, my colleague from Boston College, Dr. Mary Hess, directed the pre-conference Formation Directors’ Institute on the use of new media in ministry formation. This thought-provoking session helped the Directors to think about the opportunities that new media available primarily through the web offers to the formation of lay ministers. Dr. Hess has made her presentation and associated resources available on her website. Tom Cummings of the University of Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Education Program (STEP) hosted a luncheon during the Institute. STEP is creating opportunities for online distance theological education for dioceses that don’t otherwise have access on-site to such resources. Tom announced exciting new initiatives that will make online Spanish-language programs available through STEP. Frs. Mario Viscaino and Rafael Capo of the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI) based in Miami received the Gaudium et Spes award, a richly deserved honor for the 30 years that SEPI has been providing excellent Hispanic lay leadership formation in the Southeast. Fr. Mario, SEPI’s founding Director, is one of the inspirations for the Congar Institute. Finally, the Diocese of Salt Lake City was well represented not only by our co-Workers in lay ministry formation, Susan Northway and Maria Cruz Gray, but also by their Bishop, John Wester, who is the new Episcopal Advisor for NALM. Bishop Wester presided at the conference Eucharistic liturgy and gave the concluding address. He emphasized our communion founded on Baptism and presented a vision of collaborative ministry based on that common foundation: “We are more alike by baptism than we are unalike by any other sacrament.”

A little bit of John, Paul, and History with the STEP Program

The LEM Formation Program from the Diocese of Salt Lake City continues participants’ intellectual formation through online courses from the University of Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Educational Program (STEP). The group recently finished a course called “Letters of St. Paul”, and some LEM participants will take the optional courses during the summer (“RCIA: Can We Get the Rite Right?” and “Marriage”). In the fall semester the LEM participants will take “History of Christianity: The First five Centuries” and “Gospel of John: The Book of Signs”. The Congar Institute not only assists the collaboration between STEP and the Diocese of Salt Lake City but is also developing online courses to be added to the STEP Program.

Gala Congar !

All are invited to Gala Congar, presented by the Friends of the Congar Institute on Saturday August 11th in Salt Lake City, Utah. We ask for your support of this fundraiser with your prayers and good wishes from a distance. There are also other ways you can support this effort:

  • Donate an item for the silent auction (event tickets, gift certificates, vacation at a timeshare/summer home, etc.)
  • Underwriting the event with cash/check donations (For donation online click the following button).
  • Invite your friends to support this fundraiser as underwriters, silent auction donors, etc.
If you are able to help, we would be most grateful. Your support means a great deal to lay ministers who seek to serve their faith communities, but who do not have easy access to the education required to do that well. We thank you for all you do to support the mission of the Congar Institute.

To Become the Christ We Follow

The LEM Formation Program of the Diocese of Salt Lake City held a Day of Spiritual Formation on May 26. The topic of the day was Christian Prayer Traditions. Congar Institute’s resource person, Sr. Cheryl Clemons, OSU facilitated the event. This is what she had to say about the experience:

Being back in Salt Lake City was wonderful! The women and men preparing to become lay ecclesial ministers show great enthusiasm and dedication. Being part of the formation process is a privilege and a challenge: The interaction among the participants reminded me again of the need for community for all who are involved in ministry. The challenges are great, but a sense of shared purpose and understanding can lighten the load. In the attention, sharing, and support I witnessed within this group, it was apparent that members are genuinely seeking “to become the Christ they follow” by taking on the attitudes and practices of Jesus. I found the humor, the willingness to ask questions, and the cooperative spirit of these future LEMs to be quite inspiring, as is the leadership of their director, Susan Northway. Thanks for letting me be a part of this endeavor!

Responding to the Unique Realities of each Local Church Adapting ministry formation to a variety of contexts is one of the challenges in which the Congar Institute specializes. That is why we are committed through our inventory process to immersing ourselves in the contexts we are called to assist, to see the reality for what it is in the local church, and to work with the leaders of that church to create formation programs that truly respond to the realities observed there. In collaboration with the Oblate School of Theology, I had the opportunity recently to see the importance of this with one of their ministers-in-formation in the Native American context of Laguna and Acoma Pueblos outside Albuquerque, NM. I served as the school’s Assistant Director for a Pastoral Intern who spent the academic year in a supervised ministry experience in these Pueblos and other sites in the area. In addition to the supervisor relationship, the intern is required to work with a lay internship committee that helped him to get to know their community, to serve as a bridge to the larger parish, to reflect on his ministry among them, and to evaluate his progress. It was a privilege to enter into the efforts of the Catholic community to integrate authentically their Indian ways with their Catholic faith, as they addressed a challenging shortage of trained pastoral leaders, and as they work to understand the new complexities of passing on their cherished Catholic Indian traditions to the younger generations. It was humbling to see the sincere efforts made by the intern to do cross-cultural ministry in such a demanding context. In the end, it was a graced experience for all of us.


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