Pursuing a career in the Catholic Church

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Alexander Hermes, Contributing Writer

In its two millennia of history, the Catholic Church has become a multinational group with over a billion members worldwide – and with all the challenges of governing and educating such a diverse and large group.

From designing web pages to managing a diocese’s religious education program to coordinating communications with city or national officials, the church shares many of the same administrative and organizational needs as any institution operating in society to achieve its mission.

Responding to these needs, many lay men and women have devoted their working lives to filling these often less-visible roles supporting the church’s mission. Dr. Diana Dudoit Raiche, a School of Ministry faculty member, is one such person, and is eager to make sure students do not overlook this career possibility. A long-time employee of the church, Raiche will give a public lecture this week to raise awareness of this path of serving the church. The talk, entitled “Pursuing a Career in the Catholic Church,” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 27 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. in the Gorman Faculty Lounge.

Raiche is the former executive director of the Department of Religious Education within the National Catholic Education Association, and has served in the Washington, D.C. area, where she saw a need for more laypersons to be involved in the church.

“There are positions all over for people who have solid Catholic backgrounds,” Raiche said, emphasizing that regardless of major or calling in life, there are positions available. ‘‘Every single baptized person is participating in the mission of the church. You don’t have to be on the street corner hitting people over the head with Bibles.

‘‘There are probably going to be ministry positions that we can’t even conceive of now because of the way the world is changing,’’ Raiche said, emphasizing the need for preparation, should one be called to work in the church. “You have got to know your Catholic faith.’’

There are positions for nearly every skill set, from business to technology to mentoring, and paid internships for students. Lay people are now performing some of the work that was previously performed by priests, because of the sheer number of parishioners and increasing workloads. However, Raiche emphasizes that a career in the church is still different from any career in another organization or business.

“It’s a vocation. I personally believe that, and the documents support that,” Raiche said. “There’s a joke we have: The pay might not be so great, but retirement is out of this world.”

Due in part to the influence of youth groups and programs centered on young adults, people are going into ministry at a younger age and often remaining in ministry for the rest of their lives. Although previously individuals would join the church ministry in the latter half of their lives, people are now entering church ministry at younger ages, which Raiche feels is a good thing.

‘‘We’re going to lose 75 percent of all the lay people that are in ministry starting in five to 15 years,” Raiche said. “Where will these leaders come from? They have to come from you all, and we have to do everything we can to train the next generation.’’

Despite the daunting task of resupplying the church with not only educators and professed religious, but accountants, managers and web developers, Raiche expressed far more hope than worry.

“I’m hopeful for the future, and I have been for some time,” Raiche said.

Dr. Mark Goodwin, interim dean of the School of Ministry and associate professor of theology, reciprocated that notion of hope: ‘‘There is this burning desire of many students across many majors; they want to do something to serve the church, but they are not called to be ordained,” Goodwin said. “This talk is one of the ways we’re going to try to answer that burning desire to help the church.”

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