History of the Congar Institute for Ministry Development
The 2002 Provincial Chapter of the Southern Dominican Province considered a proposal from the province’s Intellectual Life Commission summarized as follows: Due to a massive shift in responsibility for ministry in the Catholic Church from priests and religious to lay persons, there is a need for formation of these new lay ministers. There are programs that address this need, but the need is growing faster than the response, especially in mission territories with historically fewer resources. With a focused effort, the Southern Province Dominicans, because of the Dominican charism and in collaboration with other groups and institutions, believes they should be on the forefront of the response to this challenge.
Out of this proposal, the 2002 Southern Dominican Provincial Chapter ordained the following: A new Institute would be formed, with a mission statement and organizational structure that would become a planning and delivery site for pastoral catechesis and evangelization. This administrative center, which would broker a Province sponsored, itinerant response to the theological and pastoral formation needs of lay leaders and others in the Church of the South, would assist dioceses in their fundamental mission of forming leaders to serve in their local churches. Wayne Cavalier, O.P. was designated the director of the this initiative called Congar Institute for Ministry Development and began implementation of the above in the Fall of 2005. During the Institute’s foundation process, Wayne had been in conversation with the members of the Home Missions Leadership Conference (HMLC) about collaborating in the efforts to assist underserved dioceses with lay ecclesial ministry formation. The HMLC was a group of leaders of religious communities with a long-standing corporate commitment to the home missions and related charisms. The group agreed to collaborate with Congar Institute and it supported its efforts financially and with human resources. Since its foundation, the Institute has been housed in offices located at the Oblate School of Theology.