Follow @shmsdetroit

Dr. Gerlach Is New Dean of Institute for Lay Ministry

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

Dr. Matthew Gerlach has been named Sacred Heart's new dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry. Dr. Gerlach comes to the seminary from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he served as assistant professor, teaching Catholic studies, philosophy, and theology since 2010.

As coordinator of Catholic Studies and administrative chair, Dr. Gerlach led what is now the second largest Catholic studies program in the country. He will begin his tenure at Sacred Heart on October 24.

Dr. Gerlach holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Marquette University, and a MA in Theology and BA in Catholic Studies and Philosophy, both degrees from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. He previously taught at the University of St. Thomas as visiting professor of Catholic studies and adjunct professor of Catholic studies. His ministry experience includes serving as assistant director of campus ministry at Holy Family Catholic High School, Victoria, Minnesota, and coordinator of RCIA for three parishes in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Dr. Gerlach comes to Sacred Heart with an extensive background in theology and ministry. He has a deep love for the Lord and a desire for evangelization, Sacred Heart's rector, Msgr. Todd Lajiness, says. He recognizes the unique and valuable role the laity occupies in the mission of the Church today and the critical need to have a well-developed formation program for the laity.

Monsignor notes that Dr. Gerlach is committed to the principles of forming the laity according to Co-Workers in the Vineyard, the document by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that guides the spiritual and professional development of lay ecclesial ministers in the U.S. Dr. Gerlach also has a passion for the way in which the seminary can contribute to the work of the New Evangelization, Monsignor Lajiness adds.

Serving as dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry, Dr. Gerlach relates, will allow him to contribute to the work of the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit:

The Lord has given me a growing passion for the integral formation of lay Catholics to build up the Body of Christ and to evangelize the culture. It is truly a blessing to join in the seminary's work of forming lay ecclesial ministers humanly, spiritually, intellectually, and pastorally so that the power of the Gospel may be more effectively communicated to a world in such desperate need of its saving truth, goodness, and beauty.

Dr. Gerlach will lead the Institute for Lay Ministry, the office that facilitates admissions and provides formation opportunities for commuter students who are enrolled in the seminary's degree and diploma programs, as well as for students taking courses for faith enrichment. The office has four other members: a director of admissions and enrollment management (Ryan Cahill), an admissions and retention counselor (Chyrisha Rucker), a director of supervised ministry/integrating studies (Sr. Mary Finn, HVM), and an administrative assistant (Patricia Casnovsky).

Sacred Heart's administration recently changed the name of the office from Institute for Ministry (IFM) to Institute for Lay Ministry (ILM). It is a small change, Monsignor Lajiness explains, but one that reflects the core work of the institute: to form effective lay ecclesial ministers according to the norms in Coworkers in the Vineyard.

MOSAIC Editorial Team

Stay connected with Sacred Heart. Sign up for our monthly newsletter.


Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.