Building Intercultural Competence
for Ministers (BICM)

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

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 and schools, and religious and community organizations. Participants include bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women, lay ecclesial ministers, teachers, and other involved Catholics. BICM 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  training workshops held either at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis or on-site by request. Click here for more about the BICM workshop.
  • During the workshop the five guidelines of the BICM program are presented and explained using practical and interactive approaches. Click here for more about the 5 guidelines.
  • Upon completion of a two-day training, each participant receives a Certificate of Completion.
  • An opportunity to become a BICM trainer may also be arranged.

Team Members

Mary Urbanek-Mueller
Coordinator, Aquinas BICM Training Team
Aquinas Institute of Theology

Milagros Calvetti
Director of Hispanic Ministry
Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau

Sharon Cooney-Smith
Director of Religious Education
St. Alphonsus Liguori (Rock) Church, St. Louis

Erin Hammond
Aquinas Institute of Theology

Gregory Heille, O.P.
Professor, Preaching and Evangelization
Aquinas Institute of Theology

Lynne Lang
Author and Trainer
Restorative Practices, St. Louis

Giovanni Madriz
Program Director, Office of Hispanic Ministry
Archdiocese of St. Louis

Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, O.P.
Board of Trustees
Aquinas Institute of Theology

Miguel Salazar
Director of Hispanic Ministry
Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese

For More Information

To view the dates of upcoming workshops, click here.

To inquire about the BICM program, please e-mail or call 314.256.8000.

The BICM program is an integral component of Aquinas Institute of Theology’s Montesinos Project. The Montesinos Project, with intercultural competency as its focus, is funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.