The Institute in Pastoral Ministries responds to the educational needs of persons engaged in lay-ecclesial and diaconal ministries in the Roman Catholic Church. We fulfill the mandates of the Second Vatican Council for well-educated pastoral leadership. We seek to form people who have the theological knowledge to minister with competence and confidence as well as the pastoral skills to provide compassionate Catholic leadership.
We hold Pope John Paul II's (†2005) sentiments as our own:
The unity of the Church is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities. It is the reality of many members joined in a single body, the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). Therefore the Church of the Third Millennium will need to encourage all the baptized and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church's life. Together with the ordained ministry, other ministries, whether formally instituted or simply recognized, can flourish for the good of the whole community, sustaining it in all its many needs: from catechesis to liturgy, from the education of the young to the widest array of charitable works. ("At the Beginning of the New Millennium" [Novo Millennio Ineunte], 6 January 2001, n. 46)
The Institute in Pastoral Ministries is especially aware of our mission in terms of specifically American guidance offered by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
The Church has always required proper preparation of those who exercise a ministry (see CIC, canons 235 §1, 236, 597 §2). In the same way, CIC, canon 231, states that “lay persons who devote themselves permanently or temporarily to some special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation which is required to fulfill their function properly.” Lay ecclesial ministers, just like the ordained, need and deserve formation of high standards, effective methods, and comprehensive goals. . . . We encourage dioceses and academic institutions to seek creative ways of providing opportunities for the preparation and formation of lay ecclesial ministers, especially in mission and rural areas, and for meeting the needs of various cultural groups. (Co-Workers in the Vineyard , 33)
[I]t appears sufficiently clear that the Code is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace and the charisms in the life of the Church and of the faithful. On the contrary, its purpose is rather to create such an order in the ecclesial society that, while assigning the primacy to faith, grace and the charisms, it at the same time renders easier their organic development in the life both of the ecclesial society and of the individual persons who belong to it. (Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Laws of Canonical Discipline [Sacrae Disciplinae Leges], January 25, 1983)
Ministry in the Church continues the ministry of Jesus through the ages and throughout the world. Continually, the Spirit calls forth new ministries and new ministers to serve evolving needs, as the history of the Church shows. In our time lay ecclesial ministers have emerged, men and women working in collaboration with bishops, priests, deacons, and other laity, each responding to the charisms bestowed by the Spirit. Because of their secular character, in a particular way they “are the Church in the heart of the world and bring the world into the heart of the Church” as they serve the needs of the community today. Lay people working in and for the Church require support and encouragement in the special task of evangelizing an increasingly incredulous world. (Co-Workers in the Vineyard , 26)