USML | Overview

Lay Ecclesial Ministry


The LEM Vision

Presently, Lay Ecclesial Ministers in the Archdiocese of Chicago may serve in the regulated roles of Pastoral Associate, Director of Religious Education, Health Care Minister, Director of Adult Faith Formation, and Campus Minister (University). 

Components of the LEM vision:

  • Collaboration with the Chicago area Roman Catholic theological schools to ensure sound intellectual formation in the Catholic faith
  • Scholarship support for participants
  • Assisting participants in deepening their personal and spiritual growth within a supportive community of peers
  • Helping participants develop ministerial identity as Archdiocesan candidates
  • Ensuring that participants experience a common foundational theology with priest and deacon candidates
  • Offering participants practical preparation for pastoral ministry within this local church

Program at a glance:

The Archdiocese of Chicago seeks to ensure that the future Lay Ecclesial Ministers serving its parishes and agencies possess a solid human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral foundation out of which to exercise their ministry.

In order to accomplish this goal, the LEM program is composed of a Master of Arts degree from Loyola University, Catholic Theological Union, or University of Saint Mary of the Lake. In addition, a three year formation cycle is undertaken at University of Saint Mary of the Lake.


Master’s level education is required of all Lay Ecclesial Minsters in the Archdiocese of Chicago.  In order to form ministers who embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith as handed on by the Apostles, the LEM program provides scholarship support for M.A.P.S. degrees at Loyola University, Catholic Theological Union, and University of Saint Mary of the Lake.  The Courses of Study are grounded in the Assumptions and Outcomes document created by the Theological Council at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. 


A three year formation program is required for all Lay Ecclesial Minsters in the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The overarching formation goals of the LEM program are to build community, encourage interiority, foster collaboration, appreciate diversity, develop leadership and encourage affiliation.  In addition, formation is heavily focused on integration of theological, spiritual and personal understanding into one’s pastoral practice. 

All LEM participants come together for prayer, input, and reflection at the University of St. Mary of the Lake for the following events:

  • Retreats, at the beginning, middle  and end of the program, on weekends (Friday evening through Sunday afternoon)
  • Formation Days, monthly on Saturdays, 8:30am to 4:00pm

Getting Started

For more information contact Linda Couri, Director at 847.837.4555 or

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