By Barb Arland-Fye
The Lord’s vineyard has grown by seven with the commissioning this past weekend of new lay ecclesial ministers.
They are among more than 200 Catholics who have been commissioned during the 15-year history of the Davenport Diocese’s Ministry Formation Program (MFP).
“As each of them celebrate an accomplishment, we in the Church celebrate how they enhance our Church with their gifts of service, commitment, passion and, most of all, their love of God and God’s people,” said IlaMae Hanisch, MFP coordinator.
This year’s celebration occurred Oct. 6 during a Mass of Commissioning at St. James Church in Washington.
In his homily preceding the commissioning rite, Bishop Martin Amos created a metaphor of service to the Church from passages of a children’s story and reflections on the Scripture readings.
Bishop Amos asked the MFP graduates to think about the wise people they’d encountered in their classes: fellow students, teachers and others who encouraged them along the way. “And hopefully like the first reading from Ezekiel God has placed within you ‘a new heart’ and a ‘new spirit.’ And that God’s spirit is truly within you. It is from that spirit that you must minister to others,” the bishop said.
He reminded the graduates that even in their diversity “we are part of the ‘same tree’ … we are of the race of Adam and Eve, but brothers and sisters in Christ.” Each had come to MFP for different reasons, such as self-enrichment, to begin a new ministry or to enhance existing ministry. For whatever reason, “St. Paul reminds us: to each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. Some of you are given the gift of wisdom in discourse, or to express knowledge, or to spread the faith or to bring the gift of healing. To use whatever gift God has given you, that is your purpose,” Bishop Amos said.
“The Church is that much richer for these committed lay ecclesial ministers,” observed Hanisch, who also coordinates the diocese’s adult and family formation and lay ministry.
MFP graduate Phil Tyler feels truly blessed as a newly commissioned lay ecclesial minister. The Bettendorf Catholic is retired from a government vocation and hopes to work with the hard of hearing and deaf population in the Quad-Cities. Being commissioned is the culmination of several years of diligent work, Tyler said through sign language interpreter Betty Braun of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport. Tyler attends Our Lady of Victory’s Mass in sign language and also serves as an usher at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf. Tyler and his study partners, Karl Lantzky and Tracey Jacobsen of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, learned from one another and encouraged one another, the threesome said.
Jane Duwa, a member of the Riverside Cluster-Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond, received a certificate for liturgical specialization and for pastoral associate and parish life coordinator. Her journey had been interrupted midstream and she’s grateful to several priests of the diocese who supported her along the way, first and foremost: Father Tom Doyle, a retired diocesan priest. “He supported me, he encouraged me. He was there the whole way,” Duwa said. Other diocesan priests who supported her include Fathers Rich Adam, Marty Goetz and David Brownfield. She’s also grateful to Hanisch and for a flexible program that accommodates participants’ busy lives.
Hanisch noted that many priests have been a part of MFP participants’ journey; six of them were present at the commissioning Mass.
Father Joseph Phung, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant, said he attended for two reasons: first, to support parishioner Margi Mountz, who received her certificate for pastoral associate and parish life coordinator. Secondly, he wanted to celebrate with the diocese the fruit of faith formation. The Eucharist is a great way to celebrate the graduation, he added.
Father Troy Richmond, pastor of St. James, said it’s wonderful to come together as a diocese to celebrate the unity of the Church in the midst of its diversity. He also appreciated Bishop Amos’ call to the laity to use their gifts in service to the Church.
Seven lay ecclesial ministers were commissioned Oct. 6 at St. James Church in Washington.
MFP Basic Two-year program: Michael Snyder, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Bettendorf (not present) and Phil Tyler, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport, and St. John Vianney Parish, Bettendorf.
Liturgical specialization: Donna DeJoode, St. Mary Parish, Pella; Jane Duwa, Riverside Cluster, Holy Trinity Parish, Richmond; Margi Mountz, St. Alphonsus Parish, Mount Pleasant; and Lowell VanWyk, St. Mary Parish, Pella (not present).
Pastoral Associate and Parish Life Coordinator: Duwa, Mountz and Roberta Pegorick, Our Lady of the River Parish, LeClaire.
MFP also offers Spanish programs
As in previous years, the Ministry Formation Program Mass of Commissioning took place during a day of retreat that opens the MFP year for new and returning participants. Hanisch led the English-speaking participants while Sister Jane McCarthy, OSF, of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton led the Spanish-speaking participants.
Geonoveva Diaz and her husband, Vicente Diaz, of St. James parish, participate in the Spanish MFP program, having just completed their first year. Genoveva said she thought she knew a lot about the Catholic faith, but MFP has been a great learning experience. “My eyes have been opened more,” she said.
Vicente said he believes MFP has taught him to be more faith-filled and a better man. He hopes to encourage other Latino men to become a part of the parish and to attend Mass.
“We can help the community; we can help a brother or sister with a problem,” added Spanish MFP participant Guillermo Rivas.
For more information about the Ministry Formation Program, contact IlaMae Hanisch, Ministry Formation Program coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (641) 791-3435.