Building Intercultural Competence
for Ministers (BICM)

To recognize cultural diversity as a priority, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has developed the program Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (BICM) by identifying five guidelines to intercultural competence for those involved in ecclesial ministry. These guidelines are presented throughout the U.S. at workshops facilitated by USCCB certified trainers.


The BICM Program and Training Workshops

A priority of the USCCB some years ago became the recognition of cultural diversity with an emphasis on Hispanic ministry. In response to this priority, guidelines for intercultural competence were developed and presented as the core for workshops scheduled by training teams for pastoral leaders of all cultural backgrounds. In light of demographic changes taking place throughout the nation, these competencies are increasingly necessary for effective pastoral leadership to effectively address the diversity in the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes are becoming with combinations of nationalities, languages, cultures, and races.

Knowledge, attitudes, and skills in intercultural and interracial relations are indispensible requirements for engaging in the Church’s evangelizing mission to preach, teach, and witness to the Gospel. To evangelize is to engage cultures and transform them in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Evangelii nuntiandi No. 20).

BICM draws on the knowledge and practices derived from cultural anthropology as well as the insights of intercultural studies.  At the same time, it is grounded in the Church’s teaching about the human person and Christian spirituality. The BICM program frames many of the questions about the cultural plurality of American society within the larger context of the Church’s identity and mission in order to engage cultures for the sake of the Gospel and evangelize them. Find out more from the USCCB here.

The workshop is directed to those who serve in parishes, churches, schools, religious and community organizations, educational facilities, and public service. Included are bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women, lay ecclesial ministers, teachers, pastoral associates, and catechumens. It brings participants to an introductory level of familiarity with intercultural relations for ministry, providing both theological and spiritual foundations. The members of the USCCB’s Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church hope the knowledge, attitudes and skills proposed in the guidelines will become common competencies for all ministers in the United States.


The Aquinas BICM Training Team

Aquinas Institute of Theology sponsors a BICM training team certified by the USCCB. By partnering on this initiative with the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the other three Missouri dioceses, the team consists of professionals from Aquinas Institute and the dioceses.

  • The Aquinas BICM training team facilitates a 2-day training workshop held either at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis or onsite by request. Click here for more about the BICM workshop.
  • During the workshop the USCCB's five guidelines are presented and explained using practical and interactive approaches. Click here for more about the 5 guidelines.
  • Upon completion of the training, each participant receives a Certificate of Completion. An opportunity to become a BICM trainer may also be arranged.

For More Information

To view the dates of upcoming workshops, click here.

To inquire about the BICM program, please call 314.256.8855 or e-mail