By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Marianne Agnoli, a teacher, wife and mother with advanced degrees in theology and public health, is the new coordinator of Family Formation and Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation for the Diocese of Davenport. Agnoli, 49, succeeds IlaMae Hanisch, who retired July 1 after 16 years with the diocese.
“Given my lifelong experiences of and passion for both lay ecclesial and family ministries, I sensed that this position would be a very natural vocational fit for me,” said Agnoli, who for the past nine years taught at Assumption High School in Davenport. “I believe that this is where God is calling me to serve the Church at this time.”
Agnoli will develop and train leaders in family ministry and lay ecclesial ministry programs throughout the diocese, and collaborate with other diocesan leaders on formation and training programs for leaders in English and Spanish. She also will respond to and provide resources to target areas of family ministry, such as singles, marriage preparation and enrichment, ministry to parents, separated/divorced individuals, hurting families, family spirituality and family leadership. One of her key responsibilities will be the Ministry Formation Program (MFP), which provides faith formation opportunities for adults, and on-going training for lay leaders.
“Marianne has creative thoughts about what we can do in the area of family life. And the Ministry Formation Program will be in the hands of a person who literally has been through the program,” observed Mary Wieser, diocesan director of Faith Formation.
Char Maaske, the diocese’s chief financial officer and vice-chancellor, noted that the only unpleasant part of the hiring process is informing the other candidates that they didn’t get the job. “In this case when I called applicants to tell them we had hired Marianne Agnoli, a couple of them were actually happy and said that Marianne was a great selection! So Marianne has already made my job easier and I do look forward to working with her. Her background has been one of service and I look forward to having her share her ministry with us at the chancery.”
Agnoli, wife of Deacon Frank Agnoli, the diocese’s Deacon Formation director, believes that her skill set matches the needs of the position. “I have taken several different spiritual gifts inventories throughout my many years of formation, and every time administration/organization, teaching and hospitality have emerged as my highest-scored charisms,” she said. “I think that such gifts will be of particular value in this coordinating position.”
Her teaching experience at Assumption High School in Davenport (nine years in the Family and Consumer Science Department and seven years in the Theology Department) also is an asset, she believes. She understands different learning styles, and the profound impact that a strong, faith-filled family — or lack of — has on the physical, emotional and spiritual health of each person.
During her first year in the diocesan position, she plans to identify strengths of the Family Formation and Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation programs and the areas in which the programs might be enriched.
“I would like to establish a resource/feedback relationship with at least one person in each parish to gather program evaluation information as well as data surrounding the perceived needs of the parish, especially in the area of Family Formation programming,” Agnoli said.
She also plans to make greater use of technology in reaching out to families. “The diocesan website provides some excellent resources for parishes and individuals in the area of Family Formation. Yet, many in the diocese never take advantage of these resource updates. I would like to explore various ways that social media might be used to better connect with parishes and families,” Agnoli continued.
Asked about her thoughts on family spirituality, she responded: “Working closely with many students and families over the years, I have witnessed the vital role that the domestic church (the family) plays in the spiritual health of all its members. The role of parents as primary educators in the faith is essential.”
What does she see as her role in helping the diocese respond to the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family? “The need to find new ways to communicate the Church’s teachings on marriage and family was stressed in the Istrumentum Laboris for the upcoming synod (17). It insists that catechesis on marriage and family cannot be limited exclusively to the preparation of couples for marriage (19). It calls for the need of establishing real, practical formation programs through which the truths of the faith on the family might be presented (14). I believe my role is to facilitate the creative implementation of the Synod’s recommendations into our diocesan Family Formation programming.”
Family: Married to Frank Agnoli, two children: Frank, graduate student at University of Iowa; Mary, senior at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa.
How long have you been married? 27 years
Parish: Our Lady of Victory, Davenport
Hometown: Lombard, Ill.
Career background: Assumption High School, religious education and foods instructor, 2005-2014; Dayspring Family Health Center, Jellico, Tenn., special projects researcher, 2004-05; Office of Natural Family Planning, Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., Natural Family Planning instructor and program development consultant, 1998-2000; Institute for International Marketing, Lisle, Ill., graduate assistant, 1989-91; Walgreen’s Corp., Rockford, Ill., executive assistant, 1987-89; U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Rockford, membership representative, 1986-87.
Education background: Master of Pastoral Theology, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, 2013; Master of Public Health, Illinois Benedictine College, Lisle, Ill.; Bachelor of Arts, International Business and Economics, Illinois Benedictine; valedictorian, Willowbrook High School, Villa Park, Ill.; St. Pius X School, Lombard, Ill.
Favorite form of prayer: communal prayer (especially special diocesan liturgies), morning prayer time in the chapel, and what I refer to as my “coffee with God” time
Hobbies: playing tabletop games with family and friends, cooking/baking, bird-watching, Candy Crush