Ministers of the Future: A Study of Graduate Ministry Students in Catholic Colleges and Universities

Fleischer, Barbara J., "Ministers of the Future: A Study of Graduate Ministry Students in Catholic Colleges and Universities." New Orleans, Louisiana: Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry and Loyola Institute for Ministry, 1993.

"Ministers of the Future," presents the results of research funded by a 1990 Lilly Endowment grant to the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry. The report is based on surveys of entering and graduating students enrolled in AGPIM's member institutions. The surveys probed students' previous educational attainment, career experience, financial arrangements, attitudes, goals, and self-assessments. Graduating students were also asked to assess the quality of their ministry preparation programs. The surveys revealed that graduating students reported higher levels of confidence in most ministry-related areas of knowledge and skills than entering students did. Graduating students indicated that their preparation programs had been particularly helpful in developing their understanding of the link between ministry and the Church's mission and in improving their ability to reflect on the relationship between tradition and experience. The study found that seminarians and lay ministry students differed in what the author termed "the Egalitarian Structure and Authority factor." While graduating ministry students tended to be more "egalitarian" than incoming ones, graduating seminarians were not more egalitarian than entering ones. Lay ministry students and seminarians also differed in their levels of comfort with various models of church, according to the report. While incoming ministry students scored higher on measures of commitment to social justice than entering seminarians did, the report revealed no gap between graduating seminarians and graduating ministry students in the area of social justice. Ministry students as a whole tended to be more comfortable with providing social services rather than working for structural change. In concluding, the report notes the possibility that a disproportionate number of lay ministry candidates are being lost through attrition and points out that Hispanic Catholics are under represented in ministry preparation programs. It indicates that a significant majority of ministry students have received some education in Catholic schools, and expresses concern that the changing nature and availability of Catholic education may affect future efforts to recruit ministry candidates.