By Celine Klosterman
IOWA CITY — While enrolled in the Diocese of Davenport’s first Spanish-language Ministry Formation Program the past two years, Pablo Peña shared at weekly charismatic prayer group meetings what he was learning.
“When people ask questions about our faith, I can give them the answer,” he told The Catholic Messenger through an interpreter. A eucharistic minister and catechist at St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction, he said he’s grateful for the program that educates lay ecclesial ministers because it helps him to better follow Jesus.
Bishop Martin Amos celebrated a bilingual Mass of commissioning for Peña and 25 other MFP graduates, including 10 Spanish-language students, during an Oct. 1 retreat at St. Patrick Church. Eight priests from throughout the diocese concelebrated.
In his homily, the bishop told the candidates he hoped their commissioning represented a spiritual step. But “it is not the last step you need to take.”
“You do not all have the same interests or the same talents,” he said. “But you all have the same mission.” Journeying in community, “we must stay united to the vine and be pruned to bear more fruit, remaining in Jesus and his words remaining in us.”
IlaMae Hanisch, MFP coordinator, said that by virtue of their baptism, the candidates had been called to share in Christ’s mission. “The Eucharist sustains them, and the gifts bestowed on them in confirmation have equipped them for their special tasks within the Church.”
Bishop Amos then called forth and blessed graduates of MFP’s basic two-year program, and the liturgical specialization and pastoral associate specialization programs.
“Lord, guide their steps with your mighty arm and with the power of your grace strengthen them in spirit, so that they will not falter through weariness,” the bishop prayed. “Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice, so that those who hear them may be drawn to obey the Gospel.”
As volunteers at St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty, graduates José and Maria Durán have worked to share the Gospel with sick Catholics and struggling families whom they visit to pray with. MFP has helped the spouses to better carry out their ministry and given them more confidence, they said.
Happy to have graduated MFP, Marcos NaJarro said he’s grown in faith and wisdom. “I feel more motivated to serve my parish when I can,” said the eucharistic minister and member of a charismatic prayer group at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.
“When the bishop talked about ‘steps’ in his homily, I couldn’t help but recognize that as a Church we are beginning to take steps to commission those who speak a different language,” Hanisch said. “We have now finally commissioned Spanish-speaking lay ecclesial ministers!”
Numerous Catholics have taken on larger leadership roles in their parishes since enrolling in MFP, Hanisch said. “All of those who were commissioned make up an exceptional group of Catholics.”
Catholics who recently completed the Ministry Formation Program
Parish Life Administrator/Pastoral Associate
Katherine Brack, Oxford-St. Mary
Tammy Norcross, Newton-Sacred Heart
Marybeth Wagner, formerly Newton-Sacred Heart, now in the Archdiocese of Dubuque
Jane Kamerick, Melrose-St. Patrick
Basic Two-Year MFP:
Robin Brierly, Colfax-Immaculate Conception
Refugio Ceniceros, Muscatine-Ss. Mary & Mathias
Mark Comer, DeWitt-St. Joseph
James Connell, Clinton-Prince of Peace
Donna DeJoode, Pella-St. Mary
Mario DeLeon, Ottumwa-St. Mary
José Durán, West Liberty-St. Joseph
Maria Durán, West Liberty-St. Joseph
Angela Gritsch, Brooklyn-St. Patrick
Tracey Jacobsen, Davenport-St. Paul the Apostle
Karl Lantzky, Davenport-St. Paul the Apostle
Margarita Marquez, Ottumwa-St. Mary
Ann Mohr, Long Grove-St. Ann
Marcos NaJarro, Ottumwa-St. Mary
Pablo Peña, Columbus Junction-St. Joseph
Alicia Rivas, Muscatine-Ss. Mary & Mathias
Francisco Rivas, Muscatine-Ss. Mary & Mathias
Joseph Rohret, Cosgrove- St. Peter
David Roling, Charlotte-Assumption/St. Patrick
Karol Salgado, Ottumwa-St. Mary
Lowell Van Wyk, Pella-St. Mary
Rhonda Versluys, Pella-St. Mary