Fr. Joseph Merkt honored for his work in lay ministry

Father Joseph Merkt
Father Joseph Merkt

By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
Father Joseph Merkt, a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville, has been honored by the national Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry (AGPIM).
The association presented its “Called and Gifted” award to Father Merkt in recognition of his “extensive work in developing and shaping the national standards for lay ecclesial ministers,” a press release about the award said.

The standards developed by Father Merkt, who also directed the lay ministry degree program at Spalding University from 1991 to 2001, have been accepted and recognized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The association’s president, Dr. Marti Jewell, said in an interview Feb. 29, “He’s probably one of the most significant players in establishing standards for ministry.”

She noted that across the nation there were hundreds of different standards for lay ministers until Father Merkt stepped in to develop standards.

“Thanks to him, there is now a common core,” Jewell said. “He revolutionized the standards.”

Jewell, who served in the formation office of the Archdiocese of Louisville until 2003, now serves as an associate professor in the School of Ministry at the University of Dallas.

Father Merkt has helped dozens of people in search of their vocations and on the path to lay ecclesial ministry.

His former students at Spalding University established a scholarship in his name in 2014. At the time, the former students told The Record that he helped lead them on a path to self-discovery and helped them discern what God was calling them to do.

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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