Application Deadlines : February 1 and September 1 Annually


Certification, not to be confused with certificate programs, is a way for a professional to demonstrate their practice and competence in a particular field.  The LEM National Certification Process is a portfolio based process that allows the candidate to share their knowledge, demonstrate their skill and express their spiritual and theological reflections.  Certification is the next step after degrees, certificates and formation programs and serves as tool for an individual to synthesize their experience and learning. Certification can also assist Bishops in their work of authorizing Lay Ecclesial Ministers and Pastors and others in hiring. 

“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, and diligently” (Code of Canon Law, c. 231, §1; Co-Workers, 33).

“Most importantly, the authorization process can provide occasions for the bishop to demonstrate his support for the lay ecclesial ministers of his diocese and to model collaboration with them as his lay co-workers.” (Co-Workers, 60)

WHAT are standards?

Certification standards are statements that describe a profession’s focus and activities and the values to which it is committed; designate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes it deems desirable or necessary for effective functioning as a practitioner of the profession; and may be used as educational criteria in a process of formation and assessment criteria in a process of certification.


The Alliance, five national Catholic ministry organizations, work collaboratively to produce common standards for lay ecclesial ministry, implementing and promoting certification of lay ecclesial ministers. The Alliance partners and the specialties they certify:

Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC)

·        Diocesan Directorof Worship

·        Parish Director of Liturgy


National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM)

·        Pastoral Associate

·        Parish LifeCoordinator

·        Parish Business Manager


National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM)

·        Directorof MusicMinistries


National Conference for Catechetical Leadership (NCCL)

·        Parish Catechetical Leader

·        Parish Director of Evangelization


National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM)

·        Youth Ministry Leader

·        Youth Ministry Leader,including Pastoral Juvenil Hispana

·        Youth Ministry Leader, including High School Campus Ministry Leader

·        Diocesan Youth Ministry Leader,including Pastoral Juvenil Hispana


The Process

  1. Apply for certification by creating a membership and uploading appropriate documentation. 
    Pay the $95 application fee.
  2. APPLICATION is reviewed by your organization's Partner Certification Review Committee (PCRC)
  3. When application is approved by the PCRC you become a CANDIDATE for certification. 
  4. Begin creating your PORTFOLIO by uploading assessments, documents and your integration paper.
    Pay the $165 candidacy fee.
  5. When complete, your PORTFOLIO is reviewed by your PCRC. The PCRC may ask for more information or offer guidance to strengthen your portfolio.
  6. Then the portfolio is forwarded to the National Certification Review Committee (NCRC) and then to the Alliance Commission for final approval.

Alliance Partners

In fulfilling its mission, the Alliance has revised and updated the 2003 National Certification Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers and has developed procedures for the certification of lay ecclesial ministers serving in the specialized ministries represented by the Alliance partners.
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The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee on Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service (formerly the USCCB Commission on Certification and Accreditation) has approved the certification standards and procedures of the Alliance for the Certification of Lay Ecclesial Ministers through 2025. THE USSCB DOES NOT ADMINISTER THE PROCESS.

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