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Professional Standards for Lay Ecclesial Ministers
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LEm COre Standards and Competencies
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The four core standards and their competencies apply to all LEM specializations. Specialized competencies for each role can be found under the appropriate organizational page listed above.


Lay ecclesial ministers demonstrate the qualities of human maturity needed for fruitful ministry with the people of God.

Vision Statement

Lay ecclesial ministers, as all ecclesial ministers, develop their human character and relational abilities so that they can be “a bridge and not an obstacle” for people in their encounter with Jesus Christ. * This development entails the twofold dynamic of strengthening positive traits that foster ministerial effectiveness and lessening negative traits that hinder it. Accordingly, lay ecclesial ministers strive to deepen their knowledge of self and others, grow from experiences of suffering and challenge, appreciate and value[MD1] , and demonstrate basic human virtues. Cultivating such traits and skills within a Christ-centered community contributes to the development of “a healthy and well-balanced personality, for the sake of both personal growth and ministerial service” (Co-Workers, p. 36).

* Pope John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis: I Will Give You Shepherds (1992), 43.

Core Competencies

A lay ecclesial minister will:

1.1  Appreciate and affirm the dignity of each human person and demonstrate openness and willingness to encounter the personal values of diverse cultures, races, and socioeconomic groups. [MD2] 

1.2  Identify personal gifts and limitations through self-reflection, personal prayer, collaboration with others, peer feedback, supervisory assessment processes, and/or spiritual companioning.

1.3  Engage in continuing lifelong formation through programs or practices of on-going ministerial development and personal growth.

1.4  Recognize both the reality of sin with its personal and social consequences and the power of forgiveness and reconciliation to heal persons and relationships.

1.5  Recognize the importance of self-care by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a reasonable balance among the legitimate claims of family, community, personal relationships, and ministry.

1.6  Manifest "psychological health, marked by integrity, appropriate interpersonal boundaries, and the ability to honor and safeguard the trust that people place in them as Church ministers" (Co-Workers, p. 36).

1.7   Understand the responsibility [MD3] inherent in positions of pastoral leadership and be diligent in the responsible exercise of such [MD4] regarding, for example, sexuality, confidentiality, financial accountability, supervision of others, and decision making.          [MD5] 

1.8  Be mindful and understand the role that family systems and dynamics play in the personal development of the minister.

2.0 Standard Two: Spiritual

Sharing in the common priesthood of all the baptized, a lay ecclesial minister demonstrates Christian spirituality as foundational to ministry, integrated in service with the people of God, and possessing a sacramental view of creation that recognizes the world can be a vessel of God’s presence and God’s transforming grace.

Vision Statement

Having encountered the person and message of Jesus Christ, the hunger of the lay ecclesial minister for union with the Triune God is constant. The result of this hunger is the call to holiness, founded on the Word of God, experienced in the liturgy and sacraments, formed through suffering, nurtured in joy, and sustained in community with all the baptized and through the Church as Mystical Body. The minister gives witness to a well-formed spirituality through a rich and diversified prayer life, theological reflection, and action rooted in Catholic social teaching. Spiritual formation is grounded in the understanding that “if ministry does not flow from a personal encounter and ongoing relationship with the Lord, then no matter how ‘accomplished’ it may be in its methods and activities, that ministry will lack the vital soul and source needed to bear lasting fruit” (Co-Workers, p. 38). Therefore, open to the mystery of God’s love and in touch with the worlds realities, all actions of the lay ecclesial minister flow from “that fundamental conversion that places God, and not oneself, at the center of one’s life” (Co-Workers, p. 38).

Core Competencies

A lay ecclesial minister will:

2.1  Embody an integrated spirituality formed by Scripture and liturgical celebration, theological reflection, and active participation in parish life.

2.2  Bear witness to the Eucharist as the source and summit of our lives both as individuals and within the Catholic community.

2.3  Live a life of liturgical and private prayer that is both formed by and reflective of the breadth and depth of the Catholic spiritual tradition.

2.4  Demonstrate an integration and value of the sacred arts, i.e., art, music, and architecture, into liturgical celebrations and communal prayer.[MD6]

2.5  Honor the call to ministry that is rooted in one’s baptism by developing ministerial goals that flow from one’s spirituality and reflect an integration of Gospel values.

2.6  Accept and articulate one’s ministerial vocation as coming from God and confirmed by the ecclesial community.

2.7  Demonstrate an ability to discern the “signs of the times” and address current realities in the Church and the world in light of the Gospel.

2.8  Display an openness to ecumenical prayer, works, and practices that promote Christian unity, acknowledging the gifts afforded to humanity from world religions.

2.9  Model the spirit of Jesus in one’s life, identify with and promote the global mission of the Church.

2.10  Develop a spirituality responsive to the diverse cultural expression of conversion, communion, mission and solidarity.[MD7]

2.11  Utilize new and social media and other technology to foster and develop communal spirituality.

3.0 Standard Three: Intellectual

A lay ecclesial minister demonstrates understanding of the breadth of[MD8]  Catholic theological and pastoral studies as well as the intellectual skill to use that knowledge in ministry with God’s people from diverse populations and cultures.

Vision Statement

“Formation for lay ecclesial ministry is a journey beyond catechesis into theological study" (Co-Workers, p. 43). A lay ecclesial minister’s faith and ministry is formed by the study of the Catholic theological tradition focusing on the following core elements: Scripture and its interpretation, dogmatic theology, Church history, liturgical and sacramental theology, moral theology and Catholic social teaching, pastoral theology, spirituality, canon law, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue[MD9] . Based upon this study, a theologically competent minister can articulate and interpret this Catholic theological tradition with disciples from diverse communities. A key dynamic of effective lay ecclesial ministry is the integration into ministry practices of the key documents and principal theories of pastoral ministry.

Core Competencies

A lay ecclesial minister will:

3.1 Know and integrate into ministerial practice a theology of  revelation as God’s self-disclosure, and interpretation of Scripture and tradition in accord with Dei Verbum.

 3.2 Know and integrate into ministerial practice Trinitarian theology, Christology, pneumatology, missiology, theological anthropology, and ecclesiology.

3.3 Know the major events in the history of the Church, especially the Second Vatican Council, understand the perspective those events provide on the life of the Church today, and integrate this understanding into ministerial practice

3.4  Know and integrate into ministerial practice the liturgy and rites of the Church, liturgical theology, worship, and sacraments and traditions of liturgical spirituality.

3.5  Know and integrate into ministerial practice a theology of the moral life, including Catholic social teaching, attentive to relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.

3.6 Know and integrate into ministerial practice a theology of pastoral ministry as well as guiding principles for the practice of ministry in support of the Pastoral Competencies.’3.7      Know and integrate the history and theology of Catholic spiritual traditions into prayer and ministerial practice.

3.8 Know and integrate into ministerial practice a foundational understanding of Canon Law and its role in the life of the Church.

3.9 Know the Catholic principles for ecumenism and interfaith engagement, apply these in ministerial practice, and be able to publicly represent Catholic belief/practice in respectful engagement and collaboration with others.

3.10    Know and integrate into ministerial practice a foundational understanding of the humanities and social sciences[MD10] .

3.11    Know and integrate into ministerial practice knowledge of intercultural communication and linguistic/cultural skills, appropriate to their cultural and ministerial context. 4.0

4.0 Standard Four: Pastoral

A lay ecclesial minister demonstrates a[MD11]  range of leadership and pastoral skills needed for functioning effectively in ministry.

Vision Statement

As a response to their baptismal call, lay ecclesial ministers[MD12]  accept the grace of leadership and manifest a range of skills and pastoral gifts which allow them to function effectively in ministry. In their role as evangelizers, they operate in a parochial setting which has various dimensions—faith formation, worship, cultural diversity, community life, social justice, and apostolic service. They are effective listeners who foster respect and offer compassionate care within varied family, community, and cultural settings. In the spirit of the Gospel, they serve others as companions on the journey of faith. These ministers demonstrate good stewardship, work collaboratively with other lay and ordained ministers, and exhibit human resource and management skills. They have an ability to discern and nurture the gifts of all the baptized in order to build the Kingdom of God. Lastly, these ministers embrace a professional code of ethics worthy of Catholic ministry and abide by civil and Church law. “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, page 47).

Core Competencies

A lay ecclesial minister will:

4.1   Manifest an ardent pastoral charity which seeks the salvation and sanctification of those they serve.


4.2  Empowers people to enculturate the Gospel through critical reflection of their own culture, fostering unity in diversity by utilizing human, spiritual, theological, and pastoral approaches proper to each culture.

4.3  Implement the principles and processes of evangelization and faith formation as outlined in national and universal Church documents.

4.4 Understand contemporary communication technology and assess the best ways to employ it for proclamation of the Gospel.

4.5  Utilize leadership skills of collaboration, visioning, planning, communication, decision making, delegation, and conflict management to work effectively with others.

4.6 Employ the benefits of effective ministerial supervision of, seeking supervision oneself and providing supervision to employees and volunteers.4.7    Continually seek opportunities to improve knowledge, attitudes, and skills that directly pertain to effective functioning in the ministry setting.

4.8 Develop, nurture, and participate in the prayer life of the community in which one serves.