By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
MUSCATINE — After completing various tracks of the diocesan Ministry Formation Program, seven lay ecclesial ministers were commissioned Sept. 20 during a Mass at Ss. Mary & Mathias Church.
In his homily, Bishop Martin Amos described the lay ministers as workers in God’s vineyard, each having something different and important to contribute to its growth. “There are different jobs in the vineyard. No one can do all of them. There are all sorts of different gifts and forms of service,” he said.
The new graduates expressed varying interests and skills. Four completed basic tracks in either English or Spanish, while four others had already completed the basic track and this year earned certification in the liturgical specialization and pastoral associate tracks.
Husband and wife Tiburcio and Rosa Chávez currently share their gifts by leading a Spanish-language charismatic prayer group at St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa. Tiburcio said completion of the basic track of the Ministry Formation Program (MFP) ein Spanish has given them the confidence to expand their ministry into the area of faith formation. “We have a mission in this life to serve others, help others, see that their troubles are my troubles and help any way I can.”
Ana de la Torre started the two-year basic track program in Spanish about six years ago, motivated by her desire to serve as a religious education director in her parish, St. Mary of the Visitation in Ottumwa. However, she struggled to find time to complete the program requirements after marrying husband Gerardo and giving birth to their son Gerardo Jr., who is now about 4 months old. Husband and son joined her at the retreat before Mass. Gerardo Sr. cheered for her as she received her certificate. “It was hard to get it done, but I finally did it!” Ana said with a smile.
Lori Fritz of St. James Parish in Washington started the basic track in English after being hired as faith formation director in her parish. She said she found the coursework helpful. “These were all very practical and useful classes that helped me more fully understand the workings of the Church. I grew in my relationship to my heavenly Father, my Savior, and the Holy Spirit within me.”
Tracey Jacobsen of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport earned liturgical certification. She previously completed the basic track in English, and plans to continue to further her education as she supports her husband John in the diocesan Deacon Form-ation program. “Hopefully what I’ve learned will help him on his journey to the diaconate,” she said.
Marian Milender of Ss. Joseph & Cabrini Parish in Richland originally received MFP training in the Diocese of Chicago before moving to Iowa eight years ago. The parish council president and coordinator of adult Bible studies received her pastoral associate certificate through the transfer of her previous credits. “I am humbled and honored that they recognize all I have done and are willing to use my talents,” she said.
Miguel Moreno, diocesan multicultural minister, and Marianne Agnoli, diocesan lay ministry coordinator, led retreats prior to the Mass and welcomed the newly commissioned.
Agnoli was among those celebrated at the Mass, earning the pastoral associate certificate by graduating from the St. Ambrose University in Davenport’s Master of Pastoral Theology program and participating in formation classes through the diocesan diaconate program.
Donna DeJoode of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa and Mary Joan Fullan of Jesus Christ Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton were unable to attend the Mass, and will be commissioned at a later date. DeJoode will receive her pastoral associate certificate and Fullan will receive her basic MFP certificate.
IlaMae Hanisch, who served the newly commissioned as diocesan lay ministry coordinator prior to her retirement in July, was on hand to offer her support to the new lay ecclesial ministers. MFP “really does help the Church in a lot of ways,” she said. “It helps people to grow in their faith and learn how to be of service in their Church and to other people.”