Bishop Burbidge Presents Guidelines for the Reception of Ministers in the United States at Fall General Assembly

November 11, 2014 By Public Affairs Office
BALTIMORE—Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations announced at the annual Fall General Assembly, November 11, the release of “Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers in the United States, Third Edition.” The resource will provide information for dioceses, eparchies and religious communities to prepare international pastoral ministers for their service and the communities that receive them.

“This updated resource provides a reliable treatment of the basic principles that every bishop or religious superior should keep in mind when developing their own policies and protocols to insure the successful ministry of international priests, sisters, brothers and seminarians,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Each region of the Conference, and every diocese or religious community, has its own particular challenges that might impede the ministry of international priests, religious and seminarians, which we so desperately need and appreciate here in the United States.”  

The purpose of the guidelines is to provide information for dioceses, eparchies, seminaries and institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life as they work to formulate their own policies and procedures concerning international pastoral ministers.

“In many places throughout the United States presbyterates are changing rapidly, in part reflecting the increasing number of new cultural groups and the pastoral demand placed on a decreasing number of priests,” said Bishop Burbidge. “There is no uniform practice regarding the steps taken to assess, receive and orient properly the international priests called into service to meet these pastoral challenges within the United States.”  

The guidelines are an update from the 1999 original document, revised in 2003, and address concerns about immigration documentation, proper screening, evaluations, credible background checks, requirements for youth protection, adequate orientation and continuing formation of the receiving community and the international ministers. The Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV) worked on the updates in collaboration with the USCCB Committees on Cultural Diversity in the Church, Protection of Children and Young People, and Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. An extensive consultative process included the USCCB offices of National Collections, Migration and Refugee Services, the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development; the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC); and the three national organizations of religious superiors.

To assist and guide those working with international pastoral ministers, the CCLV has also organized four regional workshops to take place in 2015, in Los Angeles; Irving, Texas; Chicago and Baltimore.

The guidelines are available to the public in three formats: print, a pdf downloadable from the myUSCCB web service; and viewable on the CCLV website. More information on how to obtain a copy and on the upcoming workshops can be found at:

A pre-workshop, live interactive session outlining the basic components of the document and what to expect during the regional workshops will be offered through myUSCCB at:
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, November meeting, Fall General Assembly, Baltimore, Committee Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, Cultural Diversity in the Church, Protection of Children and Young People, and Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, priests, sisters, brothers and seminarians, international, Guidelines for Receiving Pastoral Ministers in the United States, immigration, background checks
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
O: 202-541-3202