By Barb Arland-Fye
Ministry Formation Programs (MFP) of the Diocese of Davenport impact graduates in profound ways. Take for example, Donna DeJoode, who contemplated leaving the Catholic Church before enrolling in MFP. Or Vicente Diaz, whose wife, Genoveva, talked him into enrolling with her in MFP classes even though he didn’t think he was ready for such a commitment. All three have completed courses of study and participated in an MFP Retreat and Liturgy on Oct. 19 at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City. They were among 21 Catholics to be commissioned as lay ecclesial ministers that day: 17 at St. Pat’s and four during the 4 p.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. Bishop Martin Amos presided at both Masses.
“Bishop Amos, by virtue of their baptism, these candidates have been called to share in the mission of Christ,” announced diocesan Ministry Formation Coordinator IlaMae Hanisch at both commissioning ceremonies. “The Eucharist sustains them and the gifts bestowed on them in confirmation have equipped them for their special tasks within the Church. Today we publicly call them forth and affirm them as ecclesial ministers.”
During the morning liturgy, Bishop Amos reflected on the ways in which the Holy Spirit works in the lives of the faithful and calls them to service in the Church.
“You have received the Spirit for a purpose; you may know the purpose. It may be some ministries you are already doing, or you may still be searching for your ‘niche’ in the Church,” the bishop said in his homily. “But, be prepared, you may be surprised by the Spirit. The surprise may come through someone you meet, some event that happens or doesn’t happen, some ‘chance’ meeting or some special grace.”
The Holy Spirit certainly surprised DeJoode, a member of St. Mary Parish in Pella. “I started (MFP) because I was going to leave the Church, and my dear friend challenged me to leave informed.”
DeJoode, who loves to learn, accepted her friend’s challenge, but did not complete written assignments that first year of the two-year Basic MFP. “I did absolutely no homework; I showed up for classes. The second year, through the Holy Spirit, I got going.”
She became fast friends with another person enrolled in the program in Davenport: Tracey Jacobsen of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. Both are now enrolled in the pastoral associate track.
Through MFP, DeJoode has come to understand the reasons behind Church rules. “Love goes into the guidelines we were given through Church teaching,” said DeJoode, who now works as director of faith formation and youth ministry at St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa. Her studies “have given me a deeper love for Christ and a deeper love for the Church.”
For Jacobsen, who teaches the Wednesday night religious education program at St. Paul the Apostle, MFP “gives you more information that you can teach to others.”
Vicente and Genoveva Diaz, members of St. James Parish in Washington and lifelong Catholics, participated in Spanish Basic MFP classes once a month at their parish with other Hispanics from their parish and from Ottumwa and Oskaloosa parishes.
“I learned, gathered a lot of information I did not know,” said Vicente, who works on a farm. “I feel like my faith grew stronger.”
Genoveva said she also learned more about the Catholic faith and, as a result, feels better equipped to help her pastor, Father Troy Richmond, explain the faith to other Spanish-speaking people. As a couple, Vicente and Genoveva appreciated being able to discuss with each other what they were learning in class. “I recommend (MFP) to others,” Vicente said.
They’re also taking what they’ve learned and putting it into practice through involvement in their parish. They hope to encourage other Hispanics to benefit from MFP and to become leaders in the Church. Vicente is so enthusiastic that he wants to continue with his studies. “I’m ready for another class; whatever’s next.”
Bishop Amos, in his morning homily, noted that faith formation involves lifelong learning. “And, intellectual discipleship must then be translated into true discipleship … May God continue to bless you, your current ministries, and any endeavors into which the Spirit of the Lord may lead you.”
Hanisch believes that all participants begin MFP “prompted by the Holy Spirit. Those who are commissioned have reached a level of competence that is recognized by the Church; they have grown intellectually and spiritually. The courses, projects, field experiences, internships and practicums meet and exceed the national competencies approved by the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops). I am grateful that Bishop Amos has publicly recognized their accomplishments.”
Both Hanisch and the bishop also expressed appreciation for the presenters and others who help make the formation process successful. “In all five (MFP) programs, it takes approximately 65 teachers, retreat leaders, facilitators and mentors all working together to provide a theologically sound curriculum,” Hanisch noted.
“Every year it is a pleasure to witness each person being commissioned,” she continued. “As I read their names and they come forward, I pray that their ministry will continue to be based on the Gospel.”
Ministry Formation Programs graduates for 2013:
Basic Two-Year MFP
Laurie Bribriesco, Sacred Heart Parish, Davenport; Robert Squires, St. Mary Parish, Iowa City; Linda Niedergeses, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine; Bertha and Salvador Chavez, Francisco and Gabina Ramirez, St. Mary Parish, Oskaloosa; Jose and Margarita Hidalgo and Angel Vegas, St. Mary of the Visitation Parish, Ottumwa; Genoveva and Vicente Diaz, St. James Parish, Washington.
Robert Squires, St. Mary Parish, Iowa City
Joyce Kloft, St. Ann Parish, Long Grove; Jennifer Wemhoff, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport; Tracey Jacobsen, St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport; Donna DeJoode, St. Mary Parish, Pella.
LuAnn Glaser, Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington; Cheryl Wagner, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport; Jane Kamerick, St. Patrick Parish, Melrose; Barb Arland-Fye, Our Lady of the River Parish, LeClaire; and Sally Holte, St. Mary Parish, Solon.
Five commissioned as pastoral associates
For the first time, the Diocese of Davenport commissioned wives of deacons who completed the formation process with their husbands and individuals who completed the Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
The five are LuAnn Glaser, Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington; Cheryl Wagner, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport; Jane Kamerick, St. Patrick Parish, Melrose; Barb Arland-Fye, Our Lady of the River Parish, LeClaire; and Sally Holte, St. Mary Parish, Solon.
“We will continue that practice with the latest deacon formation candidates and their wives,” Ministry Formation Coordinator IlaMae Hanisch said. “Lay ecclesial ministers who are commissioned as pastoral associates have taken either the five years of preparation in the MFP or have completed the deacon formation process with their husbands. Occasionally we have had someone with a degree and experience from another diocese. We review that individual’s credentials and look at the curriculum with competencies to see if other courses are needed. We create a formation plan so they can complete the requirements for the pastoral associate certificate.”
Glaser said she was moved by Bishop Martin Amos’ blessing over the newly commissioned pastoral associates during Mass Oct. 19 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, and the awesome responsibility of the ministry.
“I was surprised to receive the letter from Ila Mae Hanisch that, due to the work I completed for the Masters in Pastoral Theology from St. Ambrose University, I met the requirements for certification as a Pastoral Associate. I have to admit that I did not know what that meant. After researching the guidelines for a Pastoral Associate, I have a much better idea of what a Pastoral Associate does within a parish. Listening to the words Bishop Amos said as he commissioned us, I felt overwhelmed. The description of a person who meets the qualifications for a pastoral associate is humbling, and I question whether I can meet those expectations.
“At this time, I don’t know where the certification and commissioning will lead me. I recently retired after 41 years in my profession, and am still determining what I will be doing with the rest of my life.
“I originally took the classes as a way to support (husband) Bob in deacon formation and to learn more about our faith. I am amazed that I completed the program, because at times I judged I was not up to the challenge the classes provided. At this time, I am continuing the ministries I have done for many years within our parish and am supporting Bob as he becomes more comfortable with his deacon responsibilities.
“When we began the classes, I don’t think we knew where this would lead. It has lead to a greater knowledge of our faith, wonderful friendships … and a desire to do more for the Church we love.”
Kamerick said she will continue in her ministry serving as director of religious education at St. Patrick Parish, Melrose, and assist the pastor in any needs of the parish. “I will also continue in helping my deacon husband (Ed) with his duties and responsibilities when I am needed. In essence, I want to serve the Church and all people.”
Holte, who attended every class with her husband, Deacon Mitch Holte, described her experience as a beautiful journey. “I’m going to pray and see where the Holy Spirit takes me.”
The Ministry Formation Program (MFP) is an organized, systematic way to learn more about the Church, to grow in your faith, to discern how you might volunteer or be employed in Church ministry, to develop skills, and to deepen your spiritual relationship with God.
More than 200 people have completed the two-year basic formation program in the Davenport Diocese since 1997.
For 2013-14, the Diocese of Davenport offers three programs in ministry formation: MFP Basic Year I in English, MFP Basic Year I in Español, and training for pastoral associate. The Basic MFP may be taken on site once a month at the chancery or in a DVD group that meets once a month in several locations. Currently, small groups are located in Washington, Newton, Coralville, West Point and Davenport. The MFP in Spanish is held once a month at Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School in Muscatine.
A packet for each program includes an application, recommendation forms, overview of program, listing of courses and can be found at www.davenportdiocese.org, click on chancery>faith formation>ministry formation.