By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
IOWA CITY — Twenty-one Ministry Formation Program participants celebrated a milestone they’d been looking forward to for two busy years — their commissioning as lay ministers.
“You represent many parishes and places,” said Bishop Martin Amos during the Mass at St. Patrick Catholic Church Oct. 3. “You gathered to pray, study and grow in knowledge and wisdom. Now you are being sent out, commissioned and formed for lay ministry,” Bishop Amos said.
This year’s group was diverse; 17 of the new lay ministers completed the Basic Spanish Track. Four Catholics completed the Basic English Track. Their languages may have been different, but the smiles on their faces communicated a shared love for serving God. Miguel Moreno, diocesan coordinator of multicultural ministry, told the congregation, “We are one Catholic Church; there are many faces, but just one church. We are all speaking the language of God.”
Several married couples participated in the Spanish track. Miriam Wainwright, who completed the program alongside her husband German, said the program was a great opportunity to grow closer to God while growing closer as a couple. They are members of St. Mary of the Visitation Parish-Ottumwa. They hope, together, to help out with future Ministry Formation Program classes. “It’s an intense program. It is beautiful and complicated. I learned a lot and made many friends,” Miriam said.
Other spouses showed support by helping out on the home front. Marisol Pereznegron, a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish–Muscatine, said she couldn’t have gotten through the program without her husband, Jose, watching their two young children on class days and during times of intense at-home work. Jose said of his wife, “You have to be 100 percent supportive when you are with Marisol. I’m proud of her!” Marisol believes the knowledge she gained in the classes will help her and Jose raise faith-filled children.
Shannon Greiner, director of religious education for Holy Trinity Parish– Keota, completed the Basic English Track and Catechetical Specialization while working full-time as a teacher and raising four children. “Getting through this program required a lot of family support,” she said. Her mother, Joellen O’Rourke, husband Brian, and friend Shirley VanDee are among those who helped with childcare and household duties.
Greiner, who chose to take the program as a way of enhancing her abilities as a director of religious education (DRE), is grateful to have participated in the program. “I thought I knew a lot beforehand, but I learned a lot from the classes.”
John Hanenburg of St. Mary Parish–Riverside had a support group of nine in the pews cheering him on Oct. 3, and also the parish’s Deacon Derick Cranston who served as the deacon during the Mass. “I probably need more support than anyone else” Hanenburg joked. Like many of the other lay ministers with children at home, family and friends helped make it possible to complete the coursework. He sees his commissioning as a beginning, rather than as the end of something. “It feels good to be done, but I want to make sure I don’t stop learning now that this is over.”
Commissioned Lay Ministers
Basic English Track: Shannon Greiner, Holy Trinity Parish-Keota; Deb Blindt, Holy Family Parish-Fort Madison; Lisa Willows, Our Lady of Victory Parish-Davenport; John Hanenburg, St. Mary Parish-Riverside.
Basic Spanish Track: Benito Herrera and Nila Herrera, St. Joseph Parish-Columbus Junction; Adrian Arellano, Araceli Arellano, Maria Isabel Pereznegron, Alicia Rivas, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish-Muscatine; Maria Fierros, Martin Fierros, Pablo Gomez, Pablo Martinez, Natalie Nena, Jose Romero, Alma Romero, Guillermo Trejo, Marisol Trejo, German Wainwright, Miriam Wainwright, St. Mary of the Visitation Parish-Ottumwa.
Catechetical Specialization: Willows, Greiner.