The Lay Pastoral Ministry Institute (LPMI) of the Diocese of St. Petersburg is a program of lay leadership formation consisting of four years: an informal year of discernment, and three years of formational development. The Institute offers a certificate in foundational pastoral ministry leadership upon completion of these four years. The Year of Discernment, or a documented equivalent, is a requirement for acceptance into the three-year formational program.
YEAR OF DISCERNMENT. The Year of Discernment segment of the Institute was designed to accommodate all men and women of the diocese involved in or interested in ecclesial ministry. Ecclesial ministry is understood to be organized service for which official Church leaders select and delegate the individual whose ministry carries out the mission of the Church on a parish or diocesan level. The primary goal of the Year of Discernment is twofold: to assist diocesan leaders in identifying persons who are interested in and able to pursue the more intense three-year element of the Institute; and to assist participants in deciding whether or not they are called to ecclesial ministry. A secondary goal is to create in adults of the diocese an interest in and a desire for on-going faith formation, leadership training, and religious education. In order to enter into this phase of the Institute, the individual must be at least 21 years of age and have obtained at least a high school equivalency.
The Year of Discernment provides participants with:
- an overview of the documents of the Second Vatican Council and post-conciliar documents which pertain to the role of the laity in the Church.
- a theological overview of Christ, His Church, and His ministry.
- an enriched sense of the place of the laity in the Church and its mission.
- a focus on Christian maturity, holiness, community, and formal ministry.
- a time for reflective discernment.
- an awareness of the gifts, needs, unity, and diversity of the local parish Church, the diocesan Church, and the Church in the United States.
- an awareness of the gifts, strengths, weaknesses, and personality style which the individual participant brings to his/her ministry.
The Year of Discernment has been designed to address these subjects by offering the registrants the opportunity to participate in eight day-long sessions on one Saturday of the month from September through April. The last session, a Day of Discernment, has been designed to focus on the faith journey of the individual. It provides time and space for discerning the call of the Spirit of God in the life of each participant.
In order for an individual to qualify for the more intense three-year segment of the Institute, he/she must:
- have completed the Year of Discernment, including the Day of Discernment;
- have submitted an application to the Institute;
- have a letter of recommendation from his/her pastor; three personal recommendations;
- have participated in a personal interview with the Director or his/her delegate and at least one other person on the Institute’s interview committee;
- have the approval of the Director of the Institute.
FORMATIONAL SEGMENT. The formal, three-year formational segment of the LPMI is a much more engaging experience. It focuses on developing leadership skills on a theological, pastoral, and collaborative level for use in the various ministries in the home, the neighborhood, the parish, and throughout the Diocese. Upon successfully completing the program, participants will be commissioned by the Bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg for ministry in the Diocese.
Participants in the formal program are required to apply through their parishes. The Office of the LPMI will conduct a final screening of candidates. Attention will be given to leadership, service, and collaborative abilities. This program does not attempt specializations or certifications in ministry. It encourages the individual’s pursuit of certification in specific fields through certification processes that are offered by national agencies.
Prospective candidates should be aware that, while the approval of the individual’s pastor is a requirement for entering the program, there is no guarantee that the individual will be offered a position within the parish or the diocese upon successful completion of the program. It must also be noted that, since the Institute will focus on collaboration in ministry, the Diocese, the parish, and the individual will be expected to share equally in the tuition costs of the program.
Because of the LPMI’s focus on pastoral ministry, participants may be invited to apply for the permanent deaconate formation program. However, participation in, or completion of the LPMI program, does not mean automatic acceptance into the permanent diaconate program.
This segment will follow the standards established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Commission on Certification and Accreditation. It is built on the four aspects of formation as described by the USCCB in Co-Workers in the Vineyard.
Human formation seeks to develop the lay ecclesial minister’s human qualities and character, fostering a healthy and well-balanced personality, for the sake of both personal growth and ministerial service. (Co-Workers in the Vineyard, USCCB)
Spiritual formation aims to arouse and animate true hunger for holiness, desire for union with the Father through Christ in the Spirit, daily growing in love of God and neighbor in life and ministry, and the practices of prayer and spirituality that foster these attitudes and dispositions. It promotes and strengthens that fundamental conversion that places God, and not oneself, at the center of one’s life. (Co-Workers in the Vineyard, USCCB)
Intellectual formation seeks to develop the lay ecclesial minister’s understanding and appreciation of the Catholic faith, which is rooted in God’s revelation and embodied in the living tradition of the Church. It consists chiefly of study of the sacred sciences but draws also upon a wide range of other disciplines: philosophy, literature and the arts, psychology, sociology, counseling, medical ethics, culture and language studies, business administration, leadership and organizational development, law, and so on. (Co-Workers in the Vineyard, USCCB)
Pastoral formation cultivates the knowledge, attitudes, and skills that directly pertain to effective functioning in the ministry setting and that also pertain to pastoral administration that supports direct ministry. (Co-Workers in the Vineyard, USCCB)
The three-year formational cycle consists of:
- Day of orientation and prayer at the beginning of each class year cycle;
- Overnight weekend retreat at the end of each class year cycle;
- Four modules, each consisting of four two-hour classes, and two theological reflection sessions;
- An Apprenticeship in ministry during the second year consisting of 20 observation hours;
- A Practicum in ministry in their respective parishes in the third year;
- Attendance at nine workshops over the course of the three years.
In summary, the LPMI program, in order to achieve its goals, identifies candidates who demonstrate that they are able to develop the values, attitudes, qualities, and skills of a competent ministerial leader. Once these candidates are identified, the LPMI program is committed to providing opportunities for these participants to learn and practice the values, attitudes, qualities, and skills of a competent ministerial leader.