Date: July 1, 2022
Every day, leaders in the Church, both lay and ordained, tackle issues for which there seems to be no direct or obvious answer. Many of these issues are characteristic of a specific stage in or context of ministry. Lifelong Learning at VTS offers two programs, Launching into Ministry founded in 2019 and Thriving in Ministry (founded 2018), that allow lay and ordained leaders to connect with peers, gain clarity, and build personal momentum to tackle such issues.
Launching into Ministry is designed for new VTS graduates and is generously supported financially by the seminary. It focuses on the practice of ministry immediately following ordination. During their senior year at VTS, soon-to-be priests opt into the program. Upon graduation, monthly one-on-one conversations between the student (now considered a Launching into Ministry mentee) and a mentor begin. Launching into Ministry mentors are active or retired priests who nurture priestly formation in the mentee, in large part by considering answers to the inevitable questions that arise during the first years of a new priest’s ministry.
Thriving in Ministry extends the mentoring experience to all clergy. Interested priests with more experience in ministry apply to and then can be admitted as members of the program. Each priest member is invited into a different peer learning community of colleagues who are in a similar stage or context of ministry. Each peer learning community is led by a mentor (priest) who is experienced in that ministry context. In addition to the monthly one-on-one conversations with a mentor, Thriving in Ministry members meet monthly with both the mentor(s) and their peers to address the type of issues that benefit from being discussed from multiple perspectives. Not only do the individual members gain new insights and develop new strategies for their role as ministers, and they are also encouraged to bring this strategic learning to the lay leaders in their parish. Thriving in Ministry is funded by The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
Carol Pinkham Oak
Project Director for the Lilly-funded Thriving in Ministry Initiative