This newsletter was produced from 1999-2003 by the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth (now the Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth).
Welcome to the first issue of Laity Link, a news brief which communicates information related to the Bishops' Committee on the Laity, as well as additional information from the Bishops Conference which may be of interest to the Laity. This news brief is mailed to lay organizations, movements, and associations. In addition, it is also available free of charge to individuals via our website: www.nccbuscc.org/laity/link.shtml [no longer available].
The Call of the Laity to Justice
In November 1998, the Laity Committee cosponsored and published a new statement called, Everyday Christianity: To Hunger and Thirst for Justice - A Pastoral Reflection on Lay Discipleship for Justice in a New Millennium. The most important way Catholics work for justice and peace is through our choices and actions every day. This short pamphlet highlights "one essential dimension of the lay vocation that is sometimes overlooked or neglected: the social mission of Christians in the world." This is an excellent resource for small group discussion -- at work, at home, in a parish or in a community-based group. The statement is available in English (No. 5-116) and Spanish (No. 5-117) for $1.50 by calling 800-235-8722. (Discounts for large volumes.)
Jubilee Justice Gathering
Mark your calendar for July 15-18, 1999. The Laity Committee, along with many other committees and organizations, will be hosting a special gathering focusing on Jubilee Justice -- Open the Doors to Christ: A National Catholic Gathering for Jubilee Justice. The conference will take place in Los Angeles and is open to all interested individuals. Details can be obtained from: www.nccbuscc.org/jubileejustice/index.htm [no longer available], or from your parish or diocese. Registration begins in February 1999.
Planning Ahead: Encuentro 2000
In the Year 2000, the Laity Committee will be collaborating in sponsoring Encuentro 2000: Many Faces in God's House -- A Catholic Vision for the Third Millennium. This will be a major event for all Catholics within the United States. Attendees to the conference (to be held in Los Angeles on July 6 - 9, 2000) will be delegates selected by diocesan bishops and by national lay organizations. However, all Catholics are invited and encouraged to participate in the process for Encuentro 2000 which will take place at the local level in every diocese across the country from September 1999 through May 2000. The "delegates" from the dioceses and the national organizations will be bringing the fruits of the process with them, representing all Catholics in the U.S. Stay tuned for more details.
Praying With Scripture
Did your New Year's resolutions include deepening your relationship with God? Why not pray with Scripture every day? The NCCB is now publishing the readings for the day at www.nccbuscc.org/nab [no longer available]. Go into work early and start your day by logging into this website. Or perhaps make it a lunchtime habit.
Resources for the Sight-Impaired
Did you know that many bishops' statements and other Catholic documents, including Everyday Christianity, are available in Braille, on audio cassette, or in large print? The Xavier Society for the Blind, a Jesuit apostolate founded in 1900, provides this service for free so "that those without sight may see." For more information, call 212-473-7800.
Directory of Lay Organizations
The NCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth publishes an annual directory of national lay organizations. The 1998 edition includes email addresses and websites, where available. Copies ($5 per copy) may be ordered by sending a check, made payable to USCC, to Lay Directory, NCCB-FLWY, 3211 4th Street, NE, Washington, DC 20017-119
The United Nations has designated 1999 as the Year of Older Persons. The Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Laity recently released a statement called The Dignity of Older People and their Mission in the Church and in the World. It is available at: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/laity/documents/en_rc_pc_laity_doc_05021999_older-people_en.html [no longer available].
The Laity Committee is in the process of developing a short reflection to address the topic of growing older within a faith community. Ministry with older persons is a growing and important area for parishes. Older people bring unique gifts and blessings which enrich all parishioners. Similarly, the members of a parish have a responsibility to identify and address the special needs of older parishioners. The statement is expected to be presented to all of the bishops for a vote at the November 1999 meeting. If approved, the publication would occur immediately afterward.
Encuentro 2000 will be an opportunity for the entire Church in the US to engage in profound conversations about life and faith, to worship together, to learn from each other, to forgive one another and be reconciled, to acknowledge our unique histories, and to discover ways in which we, as Catholic communities, can be one Church yet come from diverse cultures and ethnicities.
All Catholics are invited and encouraged to gather in small groups (within parishes, offices, organizations, etc.) for a six-session process. The process can be adapted to the needs of the group. Then representatives from across the U.S. will gather in Los Angeles on July 6-9, 2000 to share the fruits of their discussion at a national level.
Lay organizations, along with all parishes, are receiving a copy of the Encuentro 2000 program guide. Lay organizations that are interested in sending representatives to the July gathering should contact the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth at the address listed at the end of this news brief.
Reminder: Jubilee Justice Gathering in July
Plan to attend the Jubilee Justice Gathering in Los Angeles on July 15-18, 1999. Everyone is invited! As of June 24, 2,270 people from across the country, Canada, and Mexico had registered. Registration information is available from your parish and also from www.nccbuscc.org/jubileejustice/index.htm [no longer available].
The Catholic Church has designated special "Jubilee Days" during the year 2000. These days (at least one per month) recognize and celebrate different groups of persons. They have two goals: 1) to honor and remember this group of people for what they contribute to the life of the Church and the world; and 2) to reflect on the challenges these people face in living the Gospel in the new millennium.
Many of these days celebrate the contributions of the laity:
Parishes, families, offices, schools, and other groups are encouraged to come up with creative ways to celebrate these days.
The Bishops' Committee on the Laity has just announced an internet survey for lay Catholics. All lay men and women are invited to log onto the website, www.laysurvey.org, and complete the survey between now and May 13, 2001.
The goal of the survey is to solicit ideas and suggestions as to how parishes can better help lay people connect their faith with their daily lives.
The survey questions are grouped into six categories representing the six dimensions of adult faith formation content from Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us. These categories are 1) Knowledge of the Faith, 2) Liturgical Life, 3) Moral Formation, 4) Prayer, 5) Communal Life, and 6) Missionary Spirit.
The survey will not be used to evaluate individual parishes, but rather to provide an overview of trends at the national level.
This online survey is the first time that the Bishops' Conference is testing the use of the internet to encourage feedback from lay Catholics. To ensure that as many people as possible have the opportunity to respond, the bishops encourage parishioners to complete the survey as groups rather than as individuals. A group can meet to discuss their answers and then one person can enter the data, noting the number of people in their group. Most libraries across the country offer free access to the internet.
The survey is available in both English and Spanish. You are encouraged to publicize the survey among your organizations, friends, family, and neighbors.
World Youth Day - 2002
Plans are already underway for World Youth Day (WYD) -2002 which will be held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from July 18-28, 2001. The event will be planned primarily for young adults, although young people between 16 and 35 are invited to attend.
Participants will travel to locations across Canada to stay with families who are members of local Catholic churches from July 18-21. From July 22-28, participants will gather in Toronto for larger group activities.
Pilgrims will meet other young adults who share the same faith and take part in social service projects, such as helping the sick and homeless, when they are staying in locations across Canada. These locations will be selected over the coming months.
While in Toronto, participants will take part in a week-long program beginning with a Mass of Welcome celebrated by His Eminence Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic and ending with a Papal Mass. Other activities include sessions about the Catholic faith as well as opportunities to pray, participate in social service activities as well as attend a wide range of entertainment that will include concerts, plays, dance, and discussions. An important part of WYD is the chance for young adults from around the world to meet, make friends, and learn from each other.
Young people will be invited to stay in "simple" housing, with families, in church halls, or school/gymnasiums. The full registration fee will cover meals, lodging, and transportation within Toronto. Pilgrims need only add transportation to and from Toronto.
Details for U.S. participants will be available on our new website, www.wydusa.org.
Celebrate Older Persons
Blessings of Age, the bishops' statement on ministry with older persons is now available in English and Spanish by calling 800-235-8722. For the first time in the history of the Conference, the statement is also available on our website in the following languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese and Samoan at the following address: www.nccbuscc.org/laity/blessings/index.shtml [no longer available]. Braille, large print, and audio versions are available from the Xavier Society for the Blind (212-473-7800).
A Blessings bookmark is also available from the above 1-800 number. These make great gifts for parishes, nursing homes, families, and friends. On one side is a quote from the Pope "If you think back, you will see that your whole life is a story of God's love coming upon you in successive stages." They can be ordered at a cost of 50 for $5.00.
September 24, 2000, is the Jubilee Day for Older Persons. A "Jubilee Day for Older Persons Resource Packet" is available on the web (www.nccbuscc.org/laity [no longer available]) or can be ordered for $2/copy by writing to NCCB-FLWY, Jubilee Day for Older Persons, 3211 4th St, NE, Washington, DC 20017.
Celebrate Our Church - Encuentro 2000
Has your organization or parish registered yet for Encuentro 2000? Don't miss out on the national gathering of the Jubilee Year for the Church in the U.S.
People from across the country will all gather in Los Angeles from July 6-9, 2000 to recognize and affirm the gift that we are as a Church of many cultures.
The registration booklet has now been released and is available on the web: www.encuentro2000.org.
National organizations and dioceses are invited to bring a banner (see website for details or call 202-541-3413). The website also includes suggestions for how to prepare for the event.
The themes of the gathering are taken from the Pope's statement following the Synod for America, Ecclesia in America. They are: Encountering the living Jesus Christ, conversion, communion, solidarity, and mission. Over 85 breakout sessions will be offered on numerous topics. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to learn from each other, to experience multicultural liturgies, and to celebrate together. Don't miss this incredible event!
Celebrating Single Persons
April 27, 2000, has been designated the Jubilee Day for Single Persons. A resource packet is available on the web (www.nccbuscc.org/laity/ [no longer available]) or can be ordered for $2/copy by writing to NCCB-FLWY, Jubilee Day for Single Persons, 3211 4th St, NE, Washington, DC 20017. Celebrate this day in your parishes and organizations!
New Laity Committee
At the November bishops' meeting, Bishop John McRaith, Diocese of Owensboro, was elected the new chair of the Laity Committee. The members of the new committee (3-year term) are Bishop Kevin Britt (also will chair Youth/Young Adult Subcommittee), Bishop Joseph Delaney (also will chair Lay Ministry Subcommittee), Bishop Robert Maginnis, Bishop Michael Saltarelli, Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, and Bishop Gabino Zavala.
Youth/Young Adult News
The former Youth Subcommittee has now become the Youth and Young Adult Subcommittee. In addition to the Chair, Bishop Kevin Britt, members are Bishop Gordon Bennett, SJ, Bishop Blase Cupich, Bishop Gerald Gettlefinger, Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, CSB.
World Youth Day is scheduled for August 15-20,2000 in Rome. Young people 16 to mid-'30s are invited to attend. Over 20,000 are expected from the U.S. and over 2 million from throughout the world. Registration is through the NCCB. Details can be found at www.nccbuscc.org/laity/youth/wydrome.shtml [no longer available] or by calling 202-541-3042.
Lay Ministry Subcommittee
The new Lay Ministry Subcommittee, chaired by Bishop Joseph Delaney includes the following members: Bishop Gerald Barnes, Bishop James Hoffman, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Bishop Kenneth Untener, Bishop Emil Wcela, and Bishop Dunn.
New Name – USCCB
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCC) have officially merged and become one organization – the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Please note that all email addresses and website addresses now use "usccb" rather than "nccbuscc".
New Bishops' Committee on the Laity
Every three years, the membership of each bishops' committee changes. For the next three years, the bishops have elected Bishop Dale Melczek, Diocese of Gary, to be the new chair.
Members are Bishops Howard Hubbard (Albany), Gerald Kicanas (Tucson), Joseph Perry (Chicago), Michael Saltarelli (Wilmington), Dennis Schnurr (Duluth) and Arthur Tafoya (Pueblo).
The new Laity Committee was officially formed in Nov. 2002 and will continue until Nov. 2005.
The Laity Committee has two subcommittees. Members on the Lay Ministry Subcommittee are Bishops Gerald Kicanas (chair), Samuel Aquila (Fargo), Gregory Aymond (Austin), John Kinney (St. Cloud), William Lori (Bridgeport), Arthur Tafoya (Pueblo), and John Wester (San Francisco). Members on the Youth and Young Adult Subcommittee are Bishops Dennis Schnurr (chair), Robert Carlson (Sioux Falls), Michael Cote (Portland/ME), Francis Malooly (Baltimore), and Jaime Soto (Orange).
In late 2001, the Bishops Committee on the Laity conducted a survey of the laity via the internet. The goal of the survey was to solicit ideas and suggestions as to how parishes can better help lay people connect their faith with their daily lives.
Over 59,000 people responded to the survey. Many suggestions were received by the Committee and were also shared with other bishops' committees and also with every bishop in the country.
The top area of priority selected by the laity was adult faith formation. People want to know more about their faith.
The complete report summarizing the feedback the laity gave to the bishops can be viewed on our website at: www.usccb.org/laity/laysurvey/summary.shtml [no longer available]
Adult Faith Formation -- Distance Learning Programs
Many people who responded to the lay survey asked the bishops about existing programs where they could learn about their faith through the internet or through other long-distance mechanisms. As a result, the Committee on the Laity asked all US, accredited, Catholic colleges, universities, seminaries, and schools of theology if they offered such programs for the laity. Many do and the number is growing. The list of these academic institutions can be found on our website at www.usccb.org/laity/laysurvey/schools.shtml [no longer available]
Links to the sponsoring schools are also included. Please contact them directly for more detailed information. A copy of the bishops' statement on adult faith formation can be found at www.usccb.org/education/ourhearts.htm [no longer available]
Every two years, the Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women, and Youth publishes a directory of Lay Movements, Organizations, and Professional Associations. The 2002-2003 edition has just been released. This 46-page document lists national lay organizations within the US It can be ordered ($5/copy) from the Secretariat by calling 202-541-3040 or emailing: email@example.com Residents of DC and New York must also add applicable sales tax.
Adults with Cognitive Disabilities/Mental Retardation: Approaches to Adult Faith Formation
Watch for this new Resource and Idea Book to be posted on the USCCB – Laity website in the near future.
Welcoming the Multicultural Dimensions within Every Parish
A new video, titled Many Faces in God's House, has just been released by the USCCB. The video, which resulted from the successful Jubilee Year gathering of the same name, helps the viewer discover the many unknown riches present within our culturally diverse faith communities. Parish, diocesan, and national leaders share their insights on how to respond to the call to bring unity in our diversity. The video can be used in parishes, dioceses, and other group settings to start or continue conversations on multiculturalism, to embrace diversity in one's local community, and to train leaders in multicultural ministry. The 17-minute video (No. 5-510) can be ordered from the USCCB Bookstore by calling 1-800-235-8722.