children ministry

Empowering Dioceses for Professional Ministry

When I began my journey in the local parish, I lacked formal training in ministry. However, I was fortunate to have a supportive pastor who recognized my potential and encouraged my growth by sending me to workshops and conferences, despite my initial hesitations. Our staff embraced a culture of continuous learning, engaging in summer reading sessions focused on leadership development, akin to a book club. We understood that our formation as lay ecclesial leaders was just as vital as the formation we provided to the children, teenagers, and adults we catechized in the faith.

Throughout the years, I have come to realize that not every parish possesses the necessary resources or knowledge to foster such growth. Thankfully, Catholic parishes need not face these challenges alone. We are part of a larger body, connected in solidarity, and I firmly believe that diocesan offices should serve as a valuable resource, offering assistance and even taking a leadership role in the development of future professionals.

And because many parishes are unable to develop professional staff on their own, dioceses have the opportunity by: 


Despite the expectation of unity, it is disheartening to witness the presence of competitiveness, jealousy, and judgment within the interactions of church employees on social media or during diocesan events. I have often found myself in situations where a neighboring parish excels, and instead of celebrating their achievements, my initial response tends to be diminishing them.

While fostering healthy collaboration and community is a responsibility that lies with individual parishes, dioceses should actively support and champion these efforts. Holding large events that not only facilitate the sharing of ideas but also emphasize the significance of praying together becomes crucial. By consistently reminding pastors and their staff that they are integral parts of the Body of Christ, with each role being essential, dioceses can contribute significantly to the ongoing growth of the Kingdom.


Lay professionals in the Church often face unjustly low pay, a topic we don't discuss enough. A quick search reveals that the average salary for Catholic Church youth minister (See source HERE) is around $18/hour, which depending on where you live would not be enough. While working for the Church isn't solely about money, employees may need side gigs or consider leaving to support themselves.

Dioceses can guide parishes with retaining employees by staying updated on labor laws and setting standards that demonstrate employee value. Assistance should be provided to help parishes raise funds for higher salaries, especially for employees with higher education and professional certification.

Additionally, dioceses should regularly assess job descriptions, market values, and local cost of living. Although this process requires time and resources, it addresses a significant obstacle faced by those in lay ministry.


Onboarding new staff in a parish, regardless of their experience, plays a critical role in setting them up for success. The initial months of employment are when individuals are most impressionable and vulnerable, and without the right tools and guidance, they can quickly become overwhelmed.

To support parishes lacking resources for onboarding, dioceses can assist by:

  • Developing a comprehensive orientation program for all new ministry leaders across the diocese.
  • Inviting new ministry leaders to participate in a cohort alongside peers in similar seasons of ministry.
  • Providing parishes with a checklist of necessary paperwork and tangible resources (such as computers or office supplies) that should be completed before the individual begins their job.

By assisting parishes in the onboarding process, dioceses not only contribute to the success of the local church but also foster a stronger relationship between the lay ecclesial minister and the diocesan office.


Continual professional growth is essential, just like the ongoing growth of faith. While parish leadership should provide a professional development budget for books, courses, and conferences, the diocese should actively champion these efforts.

A diocese should not only host formation opportunities but also provide accountability for ongoing certification, where earning a certain number of credits annually is required. This differs from a certificate program that lacks follow-up.

Through ongoing certification, dioceses can enhance the value of their professional employees, leading to increased pay and leadership opportunities. Certification should provide individuals with access to resources that empower them to elevate their leadership skills.

To develop a certification process, the first step is defining the values, habits, and information that a professional lay ecclesial leader should embody. "CoWorkers in the Vineyard" is a valuable resource for shaping this path, and dioceses seeking further guidance can arrange a free consultation with Marathon Youth Ministry HERE.

A diocese that cultivates a culture and pathway for professional ministry demonstrates its commitment to the present and future of the Church. By continuously developing leaders who think outside the box and adopt new perspectives, such a diocese empowers parishes to extend their reach to the fringes of their mission field.

A diocese that provides community, values, and accountability to the laity stands alongside those who serve the Lord daily, willingly getting in the trenches with them. This support enables the laity to flourish in their roles and contribute effectively to the mission of the Church.

How does your diocese invest in the development of professional ministry leaders? What has been most beneficial?

Dioceses seeking assistance with onboarding systems, certification, and community development are invited to connect with Marathon Youth Ministry. We offer specialized consulting services tailored to the needs of the Catholic Church. Our dedicated team is committed to empowering dioceses in cultivating professional ministry leaders and fostering vibrant communities. Partner with us to make a significant impact on the growth and vitality of your diocese. Contact us today for expert support in achieving your goals. To set up an appointment click, HERE.

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