Under the guidance of Bishop Joseph Galante, the Diocese of Camden is infusing new vitality into its 118 parishes.
Committed to fostering vibrant parish communities throughout South Jersey, and recognizing the responsibilities of baptized laity as set forth in the Vatican II documents, the Camden Office of Lifelong Faith Formation has instituted a Lay Ministry Formation Program. The expectation is that better prepared and trained laity will be able to assist pastors and parish staff as they serve the formational needs of parishioners across the life cycle.
Given the stretched financial and personnel circumstances of many parishes, the program is proving to be quite timely.
The program is conducted in partnership with several Catholic colleges and other professional institutions both within and outside of the diocese. It offers undergraduate and professional certificates and graduate degrees in various pastoral ministries, including: religious education, faith formation, youth ministry, young adult ministry, evangelization, adult faith formation, family life formation, Hispanic and Black Catholic ministries, social justice and liturgy.
To facilitate attendance, classes are offered at locations around the diocese, some “in-class”, some “on-line”, and some in hybrid format.
The Lay Ministry Formation Program was founded in the Fall of 2008. In January, 2009, the 87 “students” applied and as of this writing the number has grown to 300.
Each student follows a two-tier admissions process with one application filed with the academic institution and another with the diocese, both of which contain a recommendation from the student’s pastor.
The tuition costs are shared by the parish, the diocese and the student. The diocese has instituted a Lifelong Formation Endowment Fund, the purpose of which is to ensure that individuals who want to participate in this ministry in the future will not be denied the opportunity to do so because of financial reasons.
Sister Roseann Quinn, SSJ, is the Delegate for Lifelong Formation in the Diocese of Camden. She has been largely responsible for the coordination and conduct of this very promising program.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she could take “apprentices” from other dioceses under her tutelage so that this visionary approach to parish vitality could be introduced elsewhere?