Archdiocese of Chicago
Office for Lay Ecclesial Ministry
Department of Personnel Services

Pastoral Associate Certification

  1. CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBILITY
    1. COMPETENCIES
      1. Knowledge
        Has a functional knowledge and understanding of:
        1. Catholic church teaching
        2. Church history
        3. Moral theology
        4. Liturgy
        5. Scripture
        6. Stages of human and faith development
        7. Principles of organization, management and team building
        8. Communication and counseling skills
        9. Canon Law
        10. Pastoral theology
      2. Administrative Skills
        1. Is able to initiate and implement programs appropriate to area of responsibility, including recruitment, training and supervision of volunteers.
        2. Is able to develop and maintain a budget for the above programs.
        3. Is able to make decisions and assume responsibility for delegated tasks.
        4. Can negotiate and manage conflict.
        5. Is able to communicate effectively and has good interpersonal skills.
        6. Possesses basic management, leadership, collaborative, and group process skills.
      3. Pastoral Skills
        1. Spiritual:
          • is able to contribute to the spiritual growth of the people of the parish.
          • Is able to lead others in prayer.
          • Is able to share own faith journey and enable others to do the same.
        2. Community Building:
          • Is able to assist in shaping the parish vision.
          • Is able to collaborate with others in ministry.
          • Is able to be objective in pastoral situations.
        3. Pastoral Counseling:
          • Is able to apply basic skills of counseling and spiritual direction, and can appropriately refer persons.
          • Has the capacity to relate to the sick, dying, and bereaved.
          • Is sensitive to the social justice issues involved in a multi-cultural church and society.

    2. ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS
      A master’s degree, from a Catholic institution, in divinity, pastoral or theological studies, or its equivalent, is required. Applicants should have the ability to articulate and demonstrate knowledge of Catholic theology appropriate to a master’s level in divinity or theology.
    1. EXPERIENCE
      Two years experience as a salaried parish pastoral minister, e.g. minister of care, pastoral assistant, coordinator of ministries.
    1. FORMATION/SPIRITUALITY
      1. Is aware of need and takes time for personal spiritual growth.
      2. Is an active Roman Catholic participating in a faith community/parish.
      3. Has an ability to integrate ministry with prayer and the sacramental life.
      4. Takes time for regular private prayer

  1. RESPONSIBILITIES AND TASKS
    1. GENERAL PASTORAL MINISTRY OF A PASTORAL ASSOCIATE
      1. Collaborates with the pastor, under his supervision, and with other members of the parish staff in the overall pastoral ministry of the parish.
      2. Collaborates in the overall process of the parish administration including: needs assessment, pastoral planning, decision-making, implementation, budget management, etc.
      3. Acts as director or coordinator of one or more of the parish ministries or programs as agreed upon by mutual negotiation. (Some of the possible ministries or programs are listed under the heading "Specific Pastoral Responsibilities.")
      4. Participates in the recruitment, training, formation, and enabling of others, including staff and parishioners.
      5. Leads communal prayer when needed and liturgically appropriate.
      6. Is a significant presence at primary parish gatherings, such as Sunday liturgies and social functions.
      7. Is available to parishioners for help with personal needs and parish projects.
      8. Assists or provides for ministry to persons in crisis.
      9. Cooperates with the parish pastoral council.
      10. Participates in regular staff meetings.
      11. Performs other tasks to be determined and agreed upon at staff meetings.
      12. Demonstrates an interest in the initiation of new members in the parish community and in the processes of evangelization and renewal.
      13. Relates to cluster, deanery, vicariate, archdiocesan and ecumenical structures as appropriate.
      14. Assists the pastor in developing social consciousness among staff and parishioners.
    1. POSSIBLE SPECIFIC PASTORAL RESPONSIBILITIES
      Since the role of the pastoral associate may vary according to the needs of the parish, she/he may be involved in one or more of the ministries listed below. However, in negotiating these roles with the pastor or administrator, care must be taken to be sure that appropriate archdiocesan agencies have approved and/or certified the pastoral associate's skills and competencies for the various ministries.
      1. Ministry of spiritual life
        1. Provides spiritual direction, pastoral counseling and retreats.
        2. Develops and facilitates a parish liturgy committee for the purpose of planning Sunday and seasonal parish liturgies.   
        3. Works cooperatively with the parish music director in planning music for liturgy.
        4. Coordinates and provides training for parish liturgical ministries, i.e. lectors, servers, eucharistic ministers.
        5. Assists in preparation of individuals for sacraments.
        6. Assists in planning parish sacramental services.
        7. Preaches when pastorally and canonically appropriate.
      2. Ministry of education/formation
        1. Oversees the RCIA process, including the recruitment and formation of team members
        2. Develops or assists with parish retreats, such as CRHP, etc.
        3. Coordinates family life ministry
        4. Provides for adult education program
        5. Coordinates the religious education program
        6. Coordinates the youth ministry program
        7. Coordinates the young adult program
        8. Coordinates the parish sacramental programs.
        9. Collaborates with the DRE, principal, and youth minister in assisting with ministry to children, youth, and adults.
        10. Assists in providing staff development, education and enrichment.
      3. Ministry of human concerns
        1. Acts a liaison with the Marriage Tribunal for couples regarding marriage or annulment procedures after Tribunal approval
        2. Develops support groups for the widowed, grieving, separated and divorced, or makes referrals to outside groups to provide these services.
        3. Networks with local community resources.
        4. Coordinates the ministry of care program.
        5. Provides pastoral care to people in need in the parish.
        6. Helps fulfill the companionship and sacramental needs of homebound, hospitalized and nursing home patients.
      4. Ministry of administration/management/parish life
        1. Supervises auxiliary personnel (i.e. office, maintenance, etc.)
        2. Oversees maintenance of buildings and grounds.
        3. Supervises maintenance of parish records.
        4. Coordinates the parish census.
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