Lay Leadership Program


Lay Leadership is a two-year program designed to form the laity of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet for ministry within the Catholic Tradition.  The program serves several constituencies, including adults involved in volunteer ministries at the parish level and those who seek quality Catholic enrichment.  Additionally, the program fulfills part of novitiate formation for several religious orders.  With the successful completion of the program, students receive a Certificate of Studies from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake.


This program is for those persons who are seeking to:


  • Grow in their faith and spirituality

  • Grow as human persons in the Divine Image

  • Engage in deep, systematic study of the Scriptures, Church History, Catholic Doctrine, the Sacraments, and the Catechism

  • Take classes with top scholars and Archdiocesan leaders, including faculty from the University of Saint Mary of the Lake and Benedictine University

  • Develop confidence and practical skills for active participation in the life of the Church

  • Participate in a cohort, learning in a supportive community and building valuable relationships with other Catholics who are passionate about their faith



Adult learning style classes consist of lecture, small and large group discussions as well as written integration assignments.  While this is a non-graded program, students are evaluated at the end of each course as to their successful completion and comprehension of the content, both academically as well as personally and pastorally.


Classes meet weekly on Monday evenings throughout the academic year.  The sites include:

  • University of Saint Mary of the Lake, Mundelein

  • Saint Xavier University, Chicago

  • Benedictine University, Lisle


Academic courses include:

  • Revelation and the Creed

  • Liturgy, Sacraments & Prayer

  • Catholic Morality

  • Old Testament

  • New Testament

  • Church History and Vatican II

  • Ecclesiology


All students begin the year with an Opening Retreat weekend in August.  In addition to the yearly retreat, participants come together for prayer, input, and reflection, usually one Saturday a month.  We begin our monthly Formation Days with Mass at 8:30 am and end at 3:30 pm.


The formation process engages the students in the four dimensions of ministry formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.


Formation Days include:

  • Opening Retreat, Year I

  • The Dimensions of Formation

  • Human Formation I & II

  • Spiritual Formation I & II

  • Intellectual Formation

  • Pastoral Communication Skills for Ministry

  • Pastoral Formation

  • Catholic Identity

  • Closing Retreat, Year II



The 2018-2019 Lay Leadership calendars are available below:

Lay Leadership Year I, 2019-2020 Calendar 

Lay Leadership Year II, 2019-2020 Calendar 

Program Cost

The program cost is $1,350 per year, which includes tuition, retreat, and formation expenses. Students are responsible for the cost of course textbooks. Monthly payment plans are available. 


Students may choose to pay the full amount ($1,350) independently or negotiate with their parish or sponsoring agency to share the cost.


There is an additional graduation fee of $30 for Year II students which covers the rental of the cap and gown.


Information Nights

Information Open House "Exploring Lay Ministry"  for the 2019-2020 academic year will be held June 8, 2019 from 9 am- 2 pm  at  the University of Saint Mary of the Lake (dates for other locations to be determined). Come for the information session, experience a mini Formation Day presentation and a mini Classroom Session. Refreshments will be provided.

University of Saint Mary of the Lake-SCHEDULED  Sat, June 8, 2019 9 am- 2 pm

400 Building, Room 101

1000 East Maple Avenue, Mundelein, Illinois


Saint Xavier University- SCHEDULED  Mon, June 10, 2019 7-9 pm

Andrew Conference Center, Room 102

3700 West 103rd Street, Chicago, Illinois


Joliet Diocese  Blanchette Catholic Center-SCHEDULED Thurs, June 13, 2019  7-9 pm

16555 Weber Road, Crest Hill, Illinois 


Check our website in April for any changes of rooms, dates or times for the Information Nights.


Getting Started

If you are a baptized and confirmed adult Catholic, all you need is a desire to grow in knowledge of the Catholic Faith. 


You can find more information about the program by attending one of the Information Nights, by downloading the brochure, or by contacting us by email or phone (see contact information below).


Lay Leadership Brochure


You can download and print the 2019-2020 Lay Leadership Application and Recommendation Form shown below.  There is a $50 non-refundable application fee.


Lay Leadership Application

Lay Leadership Recommendation Form


Application Process

Applications are accepted through August 1st.  Early applications are encouraged.  Once an application, application fee, recommendation form, and a photocopy of your Baptism Certificate are received, you will be contacted for a personal interview.  Any late applications will be considered based on availability.



Click on the links below for valuable resources:


Participant Handbook-Lay Leadership Program (revised 8-10-18)

Documents of the Second Vatican Council

USCCB Laity, Marriage, Family, Life, and Youth


For More Information

Please contact Michelle Shaffer, Associate Director of the Institute for Lay Formation, University of Saint Mary of the Lake, at 

or 847-970-4926.

© 2015 by The Institute for Lay Formation at University of St. Mary of the Lake

1000 Maple Ave. Mundelein, IL 60060 | 847.837.4550 |