Parish Catechetical Leader Certification
Benefits of Certification
Regarding the benefits of certification, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reiterates from the USCCB Subcommittee Certification Handbook: “Certified Lay Ecclesial Ministers contribute to the continued growth and definition of the rightful position of Lay Ecclesial Ministry in the Church. This responds to a need identified in Parishes and Parish Ministers: A Study of Lay Ministry, National Pastoral Life Center 1999, reiterated in Lay Ecclesial Ministry: The State of the Questions, NCCB/USCC 1999, and reemphasized in Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, USCCB, 2005 (hereafter Co-Workers). Certified Lay Ecclesial Ministers also help Catholic Church entities to be in compliance with norms and guidelines for formation:
"Lay persons who devote themselves permanently or temporarily to some special service of the Church are obliged to acquire appropriate formation which is required to fulfill their function properly and to carry it out conscientiously, zealously, an diligently."
—The Code of Cannon Law, 231 #1; Co-Workers, p. 33”
2.1 Benefits to the Catholic Church in the United States:
As stated in Co-Worker, all Catholic dioceses/archdiocese, provinces, regions and state conferences can benefit by working together towards certification by advancing professional standards and values. A sense of collaboration and cooperation by and among the various arch/diocese of the United States is promoted as a result of the certification process. In addition, a common certification process throughout the United States’ arch/dioceses creates continuity and cohesiveness among lay ecclesial ministers.
2.2 Benefits to Provinces, Regions and State Catholic Conferences:
By working together toward certification, provinces, regions and state Catholic conferences can benefit from, and promote common standards and specialized competencies. This consistency aides in the transfer of lay ecclesial ministers from one part of the country to another.
"Whenever possible, provinces or regions can develop consistent certification standards and procedures so that lay ecclesial ministers might transfer from one diocese to another in the region with the approval of the sending and receiving bishops."
—Co-Workers, p. 57
2.3 Benefits to the Archdiocese:
The Certification process helps the various arch/diocesan officials create formation opportunities for lay women and men to enter into key positions and major leadership roles for specialized ecclesial ministries. The standards formed by the Subcommittee aides in the creation of an educational and formational process for ecclesial ministers. Arch/diocesan office directors, as agents of their bishops, are enabled to provide clear standards of formation that fit the needs and special circumstances of the local church.
"A diocese must first identify those roles that, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop, are so essential to collaborating in the pastoral care of people that diocesan policies are needed to ensure that those who are given these roles have the appropriate education, formation, experience, and ecclesial recognition to meet the needs of the community"
Additionally, the Certification process helps the local church by forming competent and knowledgeable catechetical leaders. Those parish catechetical leaders who attain certification can then help mentor and train other parishes’ catechetical leaders.
2.4 Benefits to Academic Institutions:
“The process of certifying Lay Ecclesial Ministers will enhance collaborative efforts between academic institutions such as colleges, universities, and programs for lay formation within seminaries.” (Co-Workers). In the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, there is a partnership with the University of Dayton as well as with our local School of Theology at the University of St. Thomas, and St. Mary’s Seminary.
2.5 Benefits to Mentors of Candidates:
The Certification process inclines itself to provide an opportunity for mentors to nurture and guide candidates through the process. While the Mentors nurture and foster discipleship with partnered Lay Ecclesial Ministers, they also fortify what they have learned and are challenged to continue their own formation; thereby, creating a mutual benefit.
"Mentoring, formal or informal, can be especially helpful. An experienced Church minister introduces the prospective lay minister into the ministerial workplace. A mentor passes on more than skills. He or she presents an understanding of the particular culture in which the ministry will take place, including the challenges and the opportunities. The mentor helps the prospective minister to develop realistic expectations about ministry, including the limits of what can be accomplished. This can prevent the burnout that results when actual experience fails to meet expectations. By sharing their own stories of progress and accomplishments, sacrifices and frustrations, mentors prepare new ministers to make an informed commitment to ministry."
—Co-Workers, pp. 29-30
2.6 Benefits to Specialized Lay Ecclesial Ministers:
Lay Ecclesial Ministers benefit greatly from the entire Certification Process. Not only is it a process that invites them to look at themselves and the accomplishments they have made, but it also lends itself to taking stock of what they still need to learn. Thus, it allows the candidate to set a plan for enrichment and continued formation. The Certification process affirms these ministers who are called by their baptism, and through that baptism, they are uniquely commissioned to serve the church. It also gives a sense of professionalism to the ministry of the Parish Catechetical Leader.
Authorization is the process by which properly prepared lay men and women are given responsibilities for ecclesial ministry by competent Church authority. This process includes the following elements: acknowledgment of the competence of an individual for a specific ministerial role (often called “certification”); appointment of an individual to a specific position (in some dioceses called “commissioning”), along with a delineation of the obligations, responsibilities, and authority of that position (and length of term, if specified); and finally an announcement of the appointment to the community that will be served by the lay ecclesial minister."
—Co-Workers, p. 54
2.7 Benefits to Agencies, Institutions and Church Communities:
Church communities benefit greatly by those Lay Ecclesial Ministers who attain Certification. Those who attain Certification have the required knowledge and skill to collaborate with their pastors in educating and ministering to the people of their parish.
Additionally, as the level of expertise and competence rises among Parish Catechetical Leaders, so does the level of knowledge and formation of those to whom they minister. The Certification of Parish Catechetical Leaders supports and promotes a higher expectation of all with whom they minister and collaborate.
If interested in this certification or want more information, contact Debbie Jones at