Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 30, 1998
Newman College to prepare lay ministers
Foundation chips in $934,000 to help college launch new programs
By GLEN ARGAN
Newman Theological College has received a grant of $722,000 from a major American foundation to help it train lay ministers to work in Western Canadian parishes.
The college received a further $213,000 from the Lilly Endowment Foundation to launch a new program to help high schools become familiar with theology.
"We're very pleased and very excited to receive this kind of support," college president Kevin Carr told the WCR. "The timing seemed very appropriate."
Carr said the first grant will enable Newman College to prepare lay people to serve as pastoral associates and parish administrators complementing the role of the clergy.
It hopes to begin laying the groundwork early in 1999 for a new program leading to a master of divinity degree in those areas, he said. Classes could start as early as next fall.
In its submission for the grant, the college said, "It is recognized that, given current seminary enrolments, sufficient ordained clergy will not be available in the near future."
"Proposed parish consolidations are planned but it is unlikely that this will ease the growing crisis. It is apparent that lay ministers will be called upon to play an appropriate but increasingly significant role."
The proposal said the college's current certificate-level programs for laity are "only a beginning." "Indeed the future of many parishes may well depend on professionally educated career laity."
Carr said the second grant will enable Newman to develop the awareness of theological education among high school students. One goal would be to help students see the priesthood, religious life and lay ministry as vocations.
Under that program, the college would make its resources available to schools, bring students to the college to participate in some of its activities, and hold an annual week-long youth institute in the spring or summer.
The two grants were among $53.4 million US handed out by the Lilly Endowment to 45 theological schools in Canada and the U.S. Newman College was one of only nine colleges which received grants in both categories.
The Lilly Endowment supports the causes of religion, education and community development.