The Loyola Pastoral Life Center (LPLC) is a continuing education division of the Loyola Institute for Ministry (LIM).
In 1985, the Institute for Pastoral Life (IPL) was founded by bishops representing several rural and mission dioceses. IPL was to address the ministry education needs within such dioceses, particularly those with little or no access to Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries. The Institute was established in Kansas City, Missouri. While IPL addressed a wide range of ministry education needs, a major area of concentration upon which it began to focus was providing effective education for a new, evolving form of ministry: non-ordained leadership in parish communities without a resident priest pastor. This ministry leadership form or position is often now referred to as a pastoral administrator, parish director, or parish life coordinator.
Throughout its brief history, the IPL had, in fact, no affiliations with institutions of higher learning. The IPL never chose to offer academic credits, continuing education credits, or professional credentials to its students, who nevertheless completed a considerable amount of work over several summer sessions in ministry training classes.
In 1991 for a number of reasons – some directly related to a major shift in policy with regard to direct funding procedures by the Extension Society, a key financial contributor to the IPL, the bishops on the IPL Advisory Board recommended that the Institute become affiliated with a Catholic college or university in the United States. In January 1992, Bernard Lee and Marcel Dumestre met with the bishops on the IPL Board and made a case for the affiliation of IPL with the Loyola Institute for Ministry. In early February of that year, Most Reverend Ricardo Ramirez, Bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and chair of the IPL Advisory Board, indicated to Loyola that LIM had been selected as the most appropriate site to which to transfer the IPL. In a brief communication with LIM, he wrote,
The committee was very much impressed by the interest shown by you in wanting the IPL in New Orleans. We concluded that your staff and you at the Institute for Ministry understand very well the intent of the IPL and have followed its brief history very carefully. We are very much influenced in our decision, moreover, by the track record of your Institute with regard to home mission dioceses in the United States. It is precisely para-professionals from that network that IPL has sought to serve. We feel very confident that your staff and you will continue the charism of the Institute for Pastoral Life.
In May 1992, the Institute for Pastoral Life was dissolved as a not-for-profit corporation in Missouri. By an act of donation from the IPL Advisory Board, LIM received the tangible assets and the non-tangible assets of reputation and clientele of the IPL.
In November 1992, the successor to the IPL, known as the Loyola Pastoral Life Center (LPLC), began operations. Since the summer of 1993, LIM has offered courses with a direct, traceable connection to the ministry education curriculum for parish life coordinators inherited by LIM from the former IPL.
In late 1994, the mission statement of the LPLC underwent a significant revision. The current LPLC mission statement, approved in December 1994 by the director of LIM and the dean of City College, says:
The Loyola Pastoral Life Center (LPLC) is a continuing education division within the Institute for Ministry (LIM) at Loyola University New Orleans, a Jesuit Catholic institution. The mission and programs of the Loyola Pastoral Life Center flow directly from the mission and work of LIM. The mission of the LPLC is to provide continuing education opportunities, ministry studies programs, and spiritual enrichment for women and men involved in various aspects of the church’s life and ministries. The LPLC thus furthers the mission of the church community to promote the reign of God and the primary purpose of LIM to educate persons for leadership in Christian ministries. In pursuing its important mission, the Loyola Pastoral Life Center is particularly dedicated to helping the national church, diocesan pastoral offices, and ministry leaders in local churches improve the quality of grass-roots level Christian life and Ministry. The LPLC does so by providing seminars, training programs, resources, and networking opportunities, around emerging ministry issues, for these parties. In doing its work, the LPLC remains particularly attentive to the multicultural and ecumenical dimensions of the church in the United States, to smaller dioceses and Christian home missions, and to local church communities with new and emerging forms of lay pastoral leadership.
At the present moment, the LPLC reaches out to bishops and leaders of former IPL-affiliated dioceses and to other church-related organizations in New Orleans and beyond with its Specialized Certificate in Christian Spirituality, the Specialized Certificate in Catechetical Leadership, and the Specialized Certificate in Parish, Life, and Ministry.
Since 2007 in collaboration with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the LPLC also hosts the annual summer Institute for Catholic School Leadership. Through the rich interaction between national Catholic experts and practitioners in the field, the Summer Institute for Catholic School Leadership provides opportunities for networking and professional development by new and veteran members of Catholic school leadership teams. The curriculum is based on interests identified by Catholic school presidents, principals, and financial and advancement officers locally and around the country.