The work of Dr. Marc DelMonico was recognized in a book recently published by Paulist Press on the development of graduate programs and other forms of preparation for professional Catholic lay ministers in leadership roles in parishes, chaplaincy, pastoral care and religious education. Dr. DelMonico’s work with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as Director of the Office of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry was highlighted along with previous leaders of the office and similar leaders within the USCCB. These leaders have supported the comprehensive preparation of lay ministers in leadership roles in the U.S. Catholic Church and with U.S. bishops based on the 2005 statement by the USCCB Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord: Resources for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry (2005).
The new book, Transforming Ministry Formation, was edited by Edward J. Hahnenberg, Marti R. Jewell, and Theodore James Whapham, and published by Paulist Press in 2021. The work is a collection of scholarly essays on topics related to lay ministry formation produced by representatives of the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry (AGPIM). AGPIM is an organization of educators, theologians and administrators representing Roman Catholic institutions that offer graduate programs in ministry which prepare students for various areas of ministry in the Church including parish and family life, pastoral care, and religious education. Founded in 1988, the organization commemorated its 30th anniversary in 2018. That year, AGPIM held their annual conference in which several scholars produced essays on contemporary ministry topics and the history of AGPIM, addressing the many changes in preparation of Catholic lay ministers and other church leaders in ministry, based on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and implemented in the U.S. over the past decades. These essays were collected in Transforming Ministry Formation.
In the first chapter, theologian Dr. William H. Johnston provides a brief history of the formation of AGPIM and the way it has responded to changing needs in Catholic lay minister formation and preparation. Entitled, “Serving Lay Ecclesial Ministry Past and Present: Thirty Years of Preparing Workers for the Vineyard,” Dr. Johnston provides “reflections on the history, identity, and future” of the organization. In discussing the way in which the organization has developed and fostered connections with other organizations engaged in the work of preparing lay ministers with the education and skills needed for their work in the Church (often called “ministry formation”), Dr. Johnston mentions the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), the National Association of Catholic Chaplains (NACC, with whom Dr. DelMonico has also worked on health care chaplain competencies and prison ministries competencies) and the USCCB (p.12). Dr. Johnston recognizes the USCCB relationship with AGPIM to be the “longest and arguably most consequential” of the three because of the commitment of past and current USCCB staff, including Dr. DelMonico, “in promoting lay ministry.” He noted that the USCCB has sent a representative to almost every AGPIM annual conference from 1997 to the present and that the engagement these leaders with AGPIM was a vital resource in giving shape to the Co-Workers in the Vineyard statement leading up to 2005, and in its implementation since then.
Dr. DelMonico has participated in AGPIM gatherings – both in-person and virtual – since 2018 as part of his work representing the USCCB Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service, networking and resourcing leaders in Catholic lay ministry formation at a national level.