Seven pastoral associates [including four women] commissioned to serve the Church
Priest shortage means lay people lead faith formation programs
[“A wonderful way to bring women into the heart of the Church” or another step towards women’s ordination? Especially after the recent Vatican decree allowing (but in practice mandating) women in the Mandatum on Holy Thursday (commemorating the institution of the priesthood)]
JANUARY 22, 2016 BY Cal-Catholic.com/?p=22233
Seven pastoral associates were formally commissioned Jan. 17 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to serve side by side with parish pastors in leading RCIA classes, Scripture studies and other faith formation programs. From left, Michelle Youssef, Deacon James Carper, Deacon Matthew Nguyen, Archbishop José H. Gomez, Irene Oaxaca, Gilberto Cortes, Monica Hughes, and Katherine Enright, director of the archdiocesan Office of Parish Life. Deacon Don Huntley was unable to attend and was commissioned in absentia.
The following comes from a January 20 Angelus [LA archdiocesan newspaper] article by Clara Fox:
During a January 17 Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, seven pastoral associates were formally commissioned to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, to serve side by side with parish pastors in leading RCIA classes, Scripture studies and other faith formation programs.
Archbishop José H. Gomez thanked the pastoral associates for their “generous response to the spirit” and presented each one with a certificate to mark the milestone moment.
The commissioned men and women have spent years in preparation for this responsibility.
Each pastoral associate is required to hold a Master’s degree in theology or religious studies, and to work towards the position through prayer, formation and training.
Katherine Enright, director of the archdiocesan Office of Parish Life, said the program began after the Church recognized there was a shortage of priests.
“There still is a great need for lay leadership,” she added, calling the program a “wonderful way to bring women into the heart of the Church.”
Comment by Anne Hendershott (Professor of Sociology at Franciscan University of Steubenville): The statement from Enright that this is a ““wonderful way to bring women into the heart of the Church.” implies that women are not already in the heart of the Church. This is wrong – women already play a central role in the Church. Women are integral to the life of the Church. I worry about these programs – in the Dioceses where they have been implemented, ordinations decline further. In some cases, the pastoral associates begin to think they are of “higher status” than the ordained priest in the parish. I do not have a problem with ordained deacons assuming this role but if you just look at the outcomes in Rochester, NY you will see what can happen. I am not encouraged by this news in Los Angeles.