By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
West Burlington — Before commissioning four (one in absentia) ecclesial ministers, Bishop Thomas Zinkula marveled at the gift of grace they have received in their faith formation process. “What are the contours of that gift?” he asked during the Ministry Formation Program (MFP) Mass of Commissioning on Oct. 7 at Ss. Mary & Patrick Church – Divine Mercy Parish.
The answer, the bishop said, is found in the MFP mission statement which identifies four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. He urged candidates Peggy Bush, Angel Hernandez and Heather Tieman (Ryan Burchett was absent) — to serve as bridges, not obstacles in encouraging others in their relationship with Christ.
Bishop Zinkula referred to the Gospel reading from Luke in which the 72 disciples were chosen and called. “You felt that calling in your heart,” he told the candidates. “You were formed and educated in your process and you’re being commissioned.”
He described their task now as a joyful one. As Pope Francis has demonstrated, “we’re all about joyful discipleship,” the bishop said. “Yes, it’s going to be hard, but it’s joyful.”
During the commissioning rite, Rosina Hendrickson, lifelong faith and lay ministry formation coordinator, said: “Bishop Zinkula, by virtue of their baptism, these candidates have been called to share the mission of Christ. 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.”
With hands outstretched over the candidates, Bishop Zinkula prayed “… Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice, so that those who hear them may be drawn to obey the Gospel. Fill their hearts with the Holy Spirit, so that, becoming all things to all people, they may lead many to you, the Father of all …..”
Each of the four new ecclesial ministers shared with The Catholic Messenger how the MFP process impacted their lives.
Ryan Burchett, St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport
Ryan started MFP in 2015. “I had been helping with RCIA and was interested in learning more about my faith to better be able to serve in the church…. I think this is something that any adult in the diocese should consider to deepen their faith and knowledge of the church. I found it to be fascinating and rewarding.” He really liked his classes on the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. “I really learned a lot which deepened my own experience of the sacraments.” His participation in MFP led him to apply for the diaconate program. “I am humbled to say I was invited into the first year of the program this summer.” (He is a member of Deacon Class VIII.)
Peggy Bush, St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Riverside
Peggy started the MFP process in 2004, during a hectic time in her life. She completed a portion of the modules and returned to MFP classes in 2016. “Participating in the classes, I felt like Jesus’ disciples must have felt as they walked on the Road to Emmaus. It was a true conversion experience. In talking with my classmates, I learned they were experiencing the same moments of grace. Although some of them went a little farther with their studies – our Deacon Derick Cranston and Terry Ball, now studying to be a priest, were both part of that first class.” She said MFP deepened her faith, challenged her intellectually and spiritually and “I learned not only through the lectures and classwork but through the insights of other students.” She teaches baptism classes and children’s liturgy and serves as a eucharistic minister and sacristan. “I would love to engage young parents in giving our faith to their children in other ways … that is my passion and goal.”
Angel Hernandez, St. Patrick Parish, Iowa City
Angel began the MFP program in 2015 because it is a prerequisite to the diaconate program. (He is a member of Deacon Class VIII.) “I came in (to MFP) telling myself, ‘I know a little about my faith.’ It turns out I didn’t. He discovered that the faith formation he received wasn’t just a stepping stone to the diaconate. “This is our faith and it is so deep and rich and it has touched billions of lives.” He really enjoyed classes on the Old and New Testaments and a class on liturgy opened up his understanding about the Mass. “After that class, I am engaged deeper with our faith whenever I am at Mass.” He hopes to dive more into parish life. “I am very busy as it is, but I enjoy it.” He also tries to help out at the Iowa City Catholic Worker House, “so these classes have helped out a lot with that.”
Heather Tieman, Divine Mercy Parish, Des Moines County
Heather began MFP in June 2015 to become more acclimated with the teachings that would support her in her role as director of Faith Formation and Evangelization for Des Moines County Catholic parishes. After a class on Spiritual Themes, she felt called to further her education and is now enrolled in Loyola University’s Master of Christian Spirituality program online. She took away new insights from all who taught MFP and offers a huge thank you to “everyone involved in this amazing program.” As a new ecclesial minister, she plans to “continue to build on my ministries within in the church. I love to tell my story about the journey I have been on over the past three years and look forward to the path God has planned for my future. I leave for a 10-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land in November and cannot wait to share what knowledge and experiences I come back with. I hope to encourage others to get more involved and use their talents God has given them, to help others as well.”
Hendrickson observed: “The Ministry Formation Program helps us draw closer to Christ and to one another.”