What exactly is a "Lay Commissioned Minister?"

My former diocese has people with this title, and I think some other dioceses do too. I never had contact with any of them, though.

What is the origin of “Lay Commissioned Ministry?”

Is this a national program?

What is the purpose/function of these people?

Are they licit?

Is a “Lay Minister” really a contradiction in terms?

I am currently in a 2 year Lay Ministry training program, though I have no knowledge of getting any kind of “title” when it is completed so I’m not sure if it’s the same thing you are talking about or not.

As to “lay minister” being a contradicition in terms, I don’t see that at all. Any outreach that one is involved with is a ministry, even if it is a “prayer” ministry. One need not be ordained to be a minister, though at times the lines in responsibilities do admittedly get overly blurred.

Heres some good info from the USCCB link

Lay Ministers are not ordained like Priests or Deacons, so they cannot perform the Sacramentals. But they can assist the ordained, such as being an EM, youth ministry leader, etc.

That link included this description of Lay Ministers

Lay ecclesial ministers are women and men whose ecclesial service is characterized by:
Authorization of the hierarchy to serve publicly in the local church
Leadership in a particular area of ministry
Close mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons
Preparation and formation appropriate to the level of responsibilities that are assigned to them

That would be in keeping with what our program is training for.

I am a minister of care who brings the Eucharist to the sick and homebound. I was commisioned through the diocese. Don’t know if that is what you are referring to, but that’s one way to use the term.

A lay minister is an extraordinary minister. There are many parishes within the United States that do not have a priest. These parishes may have a communion service led by a lay minister. These services would include the scriptural readings and distribution of communion. This minister has undergone two years of specialized training.
It is important to note that a lay minister can not consecrate the Host. The communion service is not a mass. The hosts distributed at one of these services have already been consecrated by an ordained priest.
A lay person has been commissioned to perform a specific service for the Church. A eucharistic minister is commissioned to distribute the hosts and a lector is commissioned to read the Word of God. They do not replace the ordained priesthood. They do help the bishop provide for the faithful of the diocese.

A lay minister is not always an extraordinary minister.

For example, who is the ordinary minister to proclaim the first reading?
The priest? No.
The deacon? No, he proclaims the Gospel.
The bishop? No.
The correct person to do this is a lay minister, called an instituted lector.

From the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) approved for the USA, which can be accessed from romanrite.com/girm.html :
“99. The lector is instituted to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture, with the exception of the Gospel. He may also announce the intentions for the Prayer of the Faithful and, in the absence of a psalmist, proclaim the Psalm between the readings.”

The term “commissioned” is used in the GIRM for a minister who is not instituted:
“101. In the absence of an instituted lector, other laypersons may be commissioned to proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture. They should be truly suited to perform this function and should receive careful preparation, so that the faithful by listening to the readings from the sacred texts may develop in their hearts a warm and living love for Sacred Scripture.”

The instituted lector has a proper ceremony to be instituted. The “commissioned lector” is appointed, but not with this proper ceremony that is used worldwide.

But in the USA’s Book of Blessing there is a ceremony for blessing readers who are not instituted. The ceremony is not in the Latin edition of the Book of Blesssings, but to my knowledge, only the USA’s. It has in the introduction:
“1828 This order is not intended for the institution of readers by the bishop, who uses the rite contained in the Roman Pontifical. Rather, this blessing is for parish readers who have the responsibility of proclaiming the Scriptures at Mass and other liturgical services. …”.
(Book of Blessings, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1875-8, page 691.)

It should be noted that while the origins of lectors are the venerable minor orders that still exist in the West in the extraordinary form, and that while seminarians…and, more rarely, those not in seminary…are instituted as lectors in the ordinary Rome Rite…in practice, they are exceedingly rare outside seminaries. The current practice of liturgy at the Roman basilicas is to have commissioned lectors, not seminarians instituted as such, as the readers at papal Masses.
Liturgically, someone may be the ordinary minister, but that does not mean they MUST be the minister, even if they are present.

Except in the diocese of Lincoln, NE in which case they are exceedingly common outside of seminaries. A good friend of mine is from Lincoln and he was instituted with dozens of Married Men Acolytes.

Hmm, the term ministry is not exactly appropriate in this context. Apostolate would be a better term…

There are bigger fish to fry liturgically than the ordinary usage’s roles for acolytes and lectors. For one, the restoration of the subdiaconate to the entire West, and not just the extraordinary usage, would do wonders for correcting some of the darker moments of Paul VI’s pontificate (i.e., the deplorable Ministeria quaedam of 1972).

If you are referring to restoration of the minor orders then you and I are on the same page completely. With that in mind and since I am in training for the permanent diaconate ( which I beleive was a part of Ministeria quaedam) I would have no bones about dropping permanent diaconate formation for the restoration of the minor orders.

from the Glossary in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition:

Apostolate: The activity of the Christian which fulfills the apostolic nature of the whole Church by working to extend the reign of Christ to the entire world. (note: “apostle” is “one who is sent” – referring to the mandate to all baptized to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth)

Ministry: The service or work of sanctification performed by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments by those in Holy Orders, or in determined circumstances, by laity. The New Testament speaks of a variety of ministries in the Church. Bishops, priests, and deacons are ordained ministers in the Church.

Catechism references: 863, 893, 1536, 903, 1548.

“Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord: A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry” – U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: usccb.org/laity/laymin/co-workers.pdf

An excuse to not ordain deacons.

Just a reminder – “extraordinary” means “outside the ordained” and is the proper term for lay (or unordained) people who are commissioned to assist in the ministries within the church. The term “Eucharistic minister” cannot be used to describe lay people. The celebrating priest is the Eucharistic minister – the priest ministers the sacrament, not the lay people.

Reference: Redemptionis Sacramentum

If I am not mistaken, sometime in the latter third or so of John Paul II’s papacy the application of the term ministry or minister to lay people was frowned upon as being too easily confused with the ministerial roles of the ordained.

We do have formal classes in ministry for laypeople in our diocese. Upon completion I believe they are commissioned.

I wished the word “minister” is applied only for priest, so we wouldn’t have any problems.

Laudater Jesus Christo
Instaurare omnia in Christo

And deacons, who are validly ordained clerics, should not be allowed to use the term?

There are tons of examples in Scripture about people ministering – even the angels minister (and Jesus of course). I guess it’s a matter of mind set, but people can be taught that there’s the ordained ministry, and there’s the ministry shared by the priesthood of the faithful (the baptized). This doesn’t have to be a problem.

I recall too that the pope protested about using the terms minister or ministry for laypeople, since this blurs the distinction which must be kept between priest and laypeople. I also have seen that the American bishops have used the word minister of laypeople, so that I presume that this is not a very important concern.
Still, it is important to distinguish between priest and layperson.

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