“Textbooks articulating theologies of ministry used today in U.S. Catholic contexts remain rooted in a Euro-American experience of ministry; changing that begins with disciplined listening to pastoral leaders of color about their experience of ministry. ”
Today's textbooks for ministerial education--either at the graduate level or through pastoral institutes--do not take sufficient account of the demographic shifts that have changed the racial, cultural, and ethnic makeup of U.S. Catholicism. They remain largely rooted in a Euro-American experience of lay participation and ministry, one that emphasizes stable, middle-class parishes with a theologically educated professional lay workforce. Their theologies of ministry do not explicitly address immigration, racial or ethnic discrimination, Latin American or Asian forms of popular religion, culture clash, or multilingual worship or faith formation, even though all of these things matter a great deal in many ministry contexts today. There is a strong need for a theological textbook treating ministry that integrates these reflections from the beginning and makes better use of the work of scholars of color. In preparation for writing such a textbook, I propose to engage in a year of disciplined listening to the operational theologies of ministry (that is, the informal personal and communal explanations and narratives about ministry) espoused by Catholic pastoral leaders of color, and discussed in the communities and institutions that support them. I want to know more about the particular struggles, aims, and hopes of Catholics of color, both those employed in ministry and those who do it as volunteers with similar responsibilities. This disciplined listening would proceed via semi-structured interviews and coding procedures common to qualitative research.