Roman Catholic Lay Minister--Retreat Center and Campus Minister
Angela Batie Carlin
MDiv, Yale Divinity School (2007)
Certificate in Spiritual Direction, Aquinas Institute (2011)
BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Portland (2002)
As a lay minister in the Roman Catholic Church, discernment bout vocation and ministry was different for me than that of many of my MDiv colleagues at Yale. I had no ordination board certifying me fit for ministry, no local congregation discerning calling me, and no higher administrative body placing me in a position. I just had my resume, online search engines, and good old-fashioned networking to help me find the right opportunity.
My “first call” out of graduate school was working as a campus minister at a large Catholic university. I was the pastoral presence in a residence hall with 900 first-year students. The model of ministry at my university heavily emphasized fostering relationships and offering pastoral support, which I found to be endlessly rewarding and meaningful. Ministry with college-aged people proved to be an extraordinary opportunity to offer pastoral care and spiritual direction. In that role, I spent a lot of time listening, supporting, and occasionally challenging students as they grappled with the reality of emerging adulthood. I am thankful that I completed a unit of CPE while at YDS, as it helped equip me for the pastoral care I offered students.
For people (especially Roman Catholic lay ministers) considering college campus ministry, there are many benefits. The academic atmosphere is lively and offers opportunities for continuing education, which allowed me to complete a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. The academic calendar provides ample time for rest and rejuvenation with summer lulls and holidays. Busy times in parish life like Easter and Christmas were times of relaxation and family get-togethers for me. The large network of colleagues across departments makes it easier to build a community of friends in a new city. I even had the opportunity to teach with the theology department for several semesters. However, campus ministry requires lots of energy and very late work nights, making it difficult to cultivate a healthy work-life balance if not pursued diligently.
I recently left campus ministry work in order to take a position as Retreat Coordinator at the Pallottine Renewal Center in a suburb of St. Louis. Positions like this are rarer to come across. I am responsible for developing the spiritual programming that our retreat center offers to the public. The retreat center was founded by the Pallottine Missionary Sisters and, while it is now lay-run, the sisters are still very much present. It is a gift to be able to share in their mission through the work of the retreat center. About half of what I do involves a degree of administrative tasks, like processing contracts for new groups or ensuring that our staff has the information they need to prepare the center for the incoming retreat group. The other half of my job entails discerning how we can offer meaningful and relevant opportunities for spiritual reflection to the public. I find the ability to dream big and be creative to be exhilarating. I also find the ability to provide hospitality a rich spiritual practice for myself. To welcome the stranger like Christ is a worthwhile mission. I also enjoy the diversity of faithful people who use the facility – from high school groups to our “senior days of re-creation,” from national conferences of pastoral ministers to a local parish women’s retreats, it is deeply inspiring to witness and support people as they take time away from their busy lives to be with God and grow in faith.