Lay Ecclesial Ministry

The Diocesan Lay Ecclesial Ministry program is a four-year program that prepares lay men and women for specific roles of service and leadership in and for the Church.  This program reflects the standards developed in the document Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord:  A Resource for Guiding the Development of Lay Ecclesial Ministrywhich was approved by the U.S. Bishop’s Conference in November of 2005.

The Lay Ecclesial Minster is a generic term.  It is not itself a specific position title for serving in the Church.  It does, however, describe several possible roles lay men and women who feel called to serve in the ministry of the Church.  These ministries include, but are not limited to: Pastoral Associate, Liturgy Coordinator, Director of Religious Education, Youth Minister, R.C.I.A Director, Director of Adult Formation and Parish Business Manager.

The Lay Ecclesial Ministry program is a prerequisite for the Diaconate Program.

Program Curriculum

Theology Classes

The three year program includes eight semesters of theology. 

The classes meet once a week on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings, at the Pastoral Center in Merrillville, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  Each semester is 15 weeks long and meets once a week for 3 hours.  The academic courses are:

  • Liturgy/Sacramental Theology
  • Introduction to Theology
  • Christology
  • Introduction to Morality
  • Ecclesiology
  • Trinity/God
  • Introduction to Old Testament
  • Introduction to New Testament

Spiritual & Pastoral Formation

The student is required to participate in the spiritual and pastoral formation component of the program that is held monthly on Saturday mornings.  In addition to the Saturday morning sessions the student will attend one weekend retreat per year.     


The student will be assigned a specific practicum each year of the program.  During the first three years of the program the practicum assignment will be in the parish. In the fourth year the assignment will be a supervised practicum at an institution or in a program outside of the parish. 

Academic Credit

Catholic Theological Union at Chicago provides both full time faculty and adjunct faculty for the program.  Undergraduate credit is available from Calumet College of St. Joseph in Whiting, and graduate credit is available from Catholic Theological Union at Chicago.  Interested students must register, and pay tuition at these institutions in order to receive credit.

Admission Procedure

If you have any questions about admission to the Lay Ecclesial Ministry program or are in need of more information, please contact Fr. Leo Gajardo at