"Lay parish pastoral associates"

I’m posting a link here to a recent story. Since full stories aren’t allowed to be posted here (if I understand the rules correctly), I’ve chopped out a few lines. But the story really should be read in its full context. Please click the link below and read the whole story.

**California Catholic Daily
September 24, 2007 **

*** Cardinal Mahony commissions lay parish pastoral associates***

In a ceremony, Sept. 9, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahony formally commissioned three lay women and one deacon as parish pastoral associates.

“Father Bruce said to me that I would ‘add a dimension to ministry at the parish,’” Becker said. “I’m a woman. I’ve been married. I’ve been divorced. I’ve had children. ‘These are things,’ he told me, 'I cannot minister to in the first person.’ What a gift he is by choosing me to be a pastoral associate.”

Speaking of lay ministry, Becker told the Tidings last year that now is “a wonderful time” in the Church. “We are going back to the early church which excites me,” she said. “The laity were very involved in the early church and there were no formal structures.”

I wonder if anyone else is concerned by the very last paragraph in the story. Where oh where did people get this idea that anarchy within the Church is a good thing? If formal structures were lacking in the early Church, it was due to the restrictions of living in that era!

Don’t let them upset you. There have always been people with wacky ideas about Church hierarchy and there most likely always will be. We should pray for them, but beyond that there is probably not much that can be done. The title of “lay pastoral associate” strikes me as one of those titles that someone had to have in order to feel powerful. There is certainly nothing wrong with lay people counseling other lay people (provided they have some formation themselves) but they really don’t need official sounding titles that are not really official at all.

It’s kind of funny that the people who want to get away from “formal structures” feel the distinct need to have powerful titles that create an apparent “formal structure.” In reality, I think they just want to be a part of the formal structure.

The article answers your question.

Cardinal Mahony commissions…

That’s all you need to know, right there. When his name pops up, the rest is tiringly predictable.

The predictability of the Diocese of LA astounds me

Here in the Archdiocese of Detroit, there are no lay “Pastorial Associates”, if a parish does not have a priest assigned to it, a Deacon is assigned to operate the parish.

A Lay person, or non-ordained religious, is not assigned to this role.



Some persons “ideology” of what they believe is an “early church” model. Kinda goes hand in hand with the of emphasising the Mass as only a “meal” by sitting down to receive Holy Communion as apparently was done in the “early church”.

I seem to recall reading something that condemns this idea of returning to the “early Church,” but now I can’t find it.

such a position is expressly prohibited in this diocese. there is a list of approved “job titles” with job descriptions for clerical, religious and lay employees, and no parish can hire someone with another job description. There is a lawsuit on this very issue going on now, which you may read about since the battle has made national news a couple of times. A parish had about 6 times the usual number of paid employees, with different “creative” job titles, and the new bishop cracked down.


That’s it, thanks. :thumbsup:


  1. Clearly no sincere Catholic can refuse to accept the formulation of Christian doctrine more recently elaborated and proclaimed as dogmas by the Church, under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit with abundant fruit for souls, because it pleases him to hark back to the old formulas. No more can any Catholic in his right senses repudiate existing legislation of the Church to revert to prescriptions based on the earliest sources of canon law. Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation.

[Edited by Moderator]

I’ve never read anything about lay ministry in the ancient Church. There WAS a hierarchical structure anyway.

I, too, think the geographical location of this particular event says enough about it.

Huh? He says it is a mistake to return to antiquated practices, EVEN IF there has been a “change of circumstances and situation.”

This isn’t about who is running the parish. A Pastoral Associate works under a pastor.

I find it hard to believe that Cardinal Maida does not allow lay people to function as lay ecclesial ministers in the parishes of Detroit.

From the website of the Archdiocese of Detroit:

The Office for Pastoral Ministries was established in the Department of Parish Life in July of 2001. It is a resource to professional pastoral ministers in the archdiocese. The office, in concert with a Certification Review Board, oversees the certification process for pastoral ministers within the archdiocese. Areas of certification that may be granted are: Family Life, Liturgical, Pastoral, and Christian Service/Social Ministries.
The office also encourages church leaders and the faithful to identify and invite persons into lay ecclesial ministry. The office serves as a job-clearing house for both parishes and pastoral ministers.

We work cooperatively with seminaries, colleges, and universities in the area. The office, working collaboratively with others, provides ongoing formation for professional ministers and parish staffs by sponsoring in-services and conferences annually.

Pastoral Ministries
305 Michigan Ave.
GRB - 10th Floor
Detroit, MI 48226-2605
Office: (313) 237-4690
Facsimile: (313) 237-5869
Director: Mr. James Kiefer

Laypeople belong in the pews.

If Catholic laypeople want to address the priest shortage, they should be raising Catholic children and fostering vocations to the Catholic priesthood.

However, there is already an established history of abusive with Pastoral Ministers.
The Deacon functioning as Pastoral Minister I have no problem with. He has already been ordained into Pastoral Land (yes, I did say that)

It’s the women I have problems with. Making women Pastoral Ministers just further encourages the “I wanna be a priestess” mentality that is already entirely too rampant.
It saddens me that women keep pushing and pushing for things they are not to have in the Church, and certain dioceses just keep bending to the desires of these women.

The whole business of giving titles like “pastoral minister” and “lay parish pastoral associate” seems very silly and by using the term “minister” intended to imply some sort of authority and, of course, power. These titles create “pseudo-clergy” and seem to be misguided.

Let’s call these people what they are: PARISHIONERS. You don’t need a special title to volunteer, counsel, advise, teach, sing, attend Mass, pass out bulletins, sign people up, share, serve on a committee, etc. All the people of the parish are obligated to help where they are able, they don’t need a special title that denotes some sort of power. This isn’t supposed to be about power, it’s supposed to be about service to God and His Church.

In Germany (always the radicals :o ) we have since the… 70’s or so, two regular jobs in the parish that are filled by lay people: Pastoralreferenten and Gemeinderferenten (those are the German words - I think they won’t translate because there is just no equivalent in English, it seems).

Pastoralref. will receive the same formal education at university as priests, Gemeinderef. will receive similar, but with a more practical focus. They have no place in church or anything, but work in the parish office, teach in schools, teach communion-/confirmation-classes, give religious counsel in hospitals etc.

So this concept is not entirely new - but we call it by its name: It was created to take this workload (paperwork, teaching) from the priests, of whom we suffer a shortage. Not as a return to old principles :rolleyes:
Although I wish we had enough priests for this jobs, too, it is never questioned (or at least not openly!), that it is the PRIEST who runs the parish…

That is up to the Bishop in accordance with the Holy see to determine that!

This should be priority #1 for at least all the parents. However, what do you do in the meantime?

I also do not like the mental association of ‘pastoral’ with ‘lay’ but this is my problem.

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