Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Regional Report

the Inland Register

(From the November 21, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Archdiocese of Portland

GRANTS PASS – The Archdiocese of Portland has its first nationally certified lay ecclesial minister.

Natalie Scott, youth and young adult minister at St. Anne Parish here, has received a nod from the Alliance for the Certification of Lay Ecclesial Ministers. Scott is among the first to be recognized by the alliance, a new development in the U.S. church approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Lay ecclesial ministers include pastoral associates, catechetical leaders, liturgists, youth ministers and Hispanic ministers. The rapid rise of lay church workers in the past few decades prompted moves by Catholic leaders to make sure such ministers are well trained. The Archdiocese of Portland’s Ministry Formation Program, founded in the mid-1990s, was one response. National certification is the latest.

In “Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord,” a 2005 document, the U.S. bishops called not just for formation of lay ecclesial ministers, but ways to evaluate if ministers are meeting requirements. In 2011, a bishops’ committee ratified national certification standards and procedures.

Certification requires an application form, recommendations, a portfolio, transcripts and an essay that applies theological, spiritual, pastoral and personal knowledge to pastoral ministry. Applicants also are required to read codes of ethics for their field. As part of certification, a peer review board examines a lay minister’s education and experience to check for competence and make sure the worker’s vision is the same as that of the bishops.

Scott is in her third year at St. Anne, after doing similar work in Texas. She holds a bachelor’s degree in theology.

Scott says being certified is important, since lay ministers encounter “very messy situations” that only a trained person can handle well. Often, she must work with youths who are using drugs or who have been sexually or physically abused. She also must guide her volunteer ministers as they face dicey situations. Marshaling and training those helpers are among her most important duties; she thinks of it as helping people answer their baptismal call.

For more information on national certification of lay ecclesial ministers, go to

SALEM – Father Todd Molinari kicked off the first of a series of six discussion groups on the death penalty in September in Salem. Father Molinari, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, just blocks from the state capitol building, covered Catholic teachings about the death penalty, offering a historical prospective of the changing views on the death penalty over the centuries.

In the second in the series on Oct. 10, Tom O’Connor, former head of Religious Services for the Oregon Department of Corrections, spoke and lead the discussion on “restorative justice” and “reconciliation.” O’Connor is a consultant to corrections officials in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Sessions, open to the public, address such aspects as causes and deterrents to violent crime and murder; mistakes and racial bias in the administration of the death penalty; and the impact on those called upon to perform an execution. December 5 will be a wrap-up and discussion about how Catholics can get involved in helping to repeal the Oregon death penalty.

BEAVERTON – On any given Tuesday or Thursday evening, about 150 immigrants pursue the American dream with help from seasoned educators – the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon.

For the third year, the Sisters are offering low-cost classes in English. After long days of work and parenting, immigrants come to learn reading, writing and conversation.

On this night, Sister Marianne Giesel is guiding 34 students in a class for beginners. A veteran of 44 years in the classroom, Sister Marianne speaks simply, but with maximum respect. She realizes how intelligent her students are and admires them for what they are trying to learn. The class recites the pledge of allegiance, memorizes the 13 colonies and drills in vocabulary and grammar. Sister Marianne uses student names to help the whole class learn to spell, which sparks enthusiasm.

– Catholic Sentinel (Archdiocese of Portland)

Inland Register Index | Home

© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved