Barbara Sutton, Associate Dean of Formation and Outreach at St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary at Collegeville, substantially planned and led this Symposium. She worked also on the 2011 Collegeville Symposium, and contributed a chapter to its resulting In the Name of the Church, William J. Cahoy, ed. Barbara is on CATFE’s leadership team. Thanks to Barbara’s invitation to CATFE, I represented CATFE, to continue its traditional influence on pastoral formation, as in Co-Workers and early editions of the Program of Priestly Formation (USCCB).
Our day and a half gathering was intense and productive. We examined closely the bishops’ vision in Co-Workers for authorization for lay ecclesial ministers with Lynda Robitaille, Ph.D., JCD. Dr. Robitaille is a canon lawyer who has worked before with the Collegeville Lay Ecclesial Ministry Symposium. She noted that the Bishops had recognized in Co-Workers, that canonical authorization is a must for lay ecclesial ministers to take their appropriate place in the church’s ministry.
Mary Gautier, Ph.D., the primary researcher at CARA for research on Authorization of Lay Ecclesial Ministers for Ministry, provided a nuanced presentation of reliable nationwide data, enabling us to take stock of growth, and acknowledge too that Authorization takes place in just some dioceses, most often for directors of religious education. We next met in small groups to more deeply interpret the meaning of this data. One important revelation to me was the extent to which resources to realize the Bishops’ vision for lay ecclesial ministry and authorization were redirected to respond to clergy abuse accusations.
We then engaged in a planning process that yielded priority goals and action steps to address unfinished work related to that vision. I highly recommend you check out this process. This method was given us as a “tool to use at home” http://www.csbsju.edu/documents/sot/events/co-workers/facilitating%20a%20conversation-%2010th%20anniversary.pdf
Praxis became method as we repeated the process the next day. Joined by additional individuals, from Minnesota churches far and near, we facilitated their active reflection on the meaning of Co-Workers in the local church. Their discussions yielded hopes and plans to bring Co-Workers to the parish level. Their input also helped refine national goals and action steps. The symposium concluded by celebrating the Co-Workers tenth anniversary with prayer, followed by a luncheon honoring H. Richard McCord whose address on the Co-Workers’ anniversary was a reflection on its journey from past to present.
Kathleen Murphy Castillo
Director, Theological Field Education
Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, NY