By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
WILLIAMSBURG — Four newly commissioned lay ecclesial ministers say they’re grateful for the knowledge and experiences they gained through participating in the Diocese of Davenport’s Ministry Formation Program.
The program, organized by the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, aims to help Catholics grow in their relationship with Christ and develop into deeply spiritual, competent and effective lay ecclesial ministers.
Bishop Thomas Zinkula commissioned the lay ecclesial ministers during Mass on May 4 at St. Mary Parish in Williamsburg. With arms outstretched he 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 …”
Participants in the two-year program had the option of participating in a monthly instructional session at the St. Vincent Center in Davenport or viewing the videotaped session and meeting once a month with a facilitator-led small group in Oskaloosa.
In his homily, Bishop Zinkula spoke about ministry in the midst of chaos, relating his message to the day’s reading and Gospel. “These are challenging times. People complain, and justifiably so,” he said. Fears about the future of the church are also present in the minds of Catholics. “What we need to do today is the same as (the apostles) did back then: prayer, dialogue and discernment to figure out what to do in a situation, evangelizing, preaching Christianity.”
He prayed that the commissioning rite and the Eucharist would give the lay ecclesial ministers the inspiration and strength needed “to be faith-filled, mission-oriented disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Each of the four new ecclesial ministers shared with The Catholic Messenger how the MFP process impacted their lives and ministries.
Gregory is director of lifelong faith formation and the senior high youth minister at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton. He decided to participate in the program with the encouragement of his pastor, Father William Reynolds.
For the required practicum, participants were encouraged to try something out of their comfort zone. For Gregory, this was grief ministry. “I learned skills on how to respond to people enduring (life’s) trials,” he said. A big part of this was learning how to be present and listen — skills he believes will help him in his parish job. He is more able to “listen to people where they are at and (figure out) how I can be instrumental in their faith journeys.”
Kelly Ann Light-McGroary
Light-McGroary, a member of St. Mary Parish in Solon, entered the MFP program hoping to find a calling or a ministry in which to get involved. “I didn’t know how to discern” and felt the MFP program would help, she said. During the program, she attended the diocesan Hundredfold workshops, which offered guidance on creating vocation-supporting parishes. She left the workshops feeling excited and eager to help other Catholics discern vocations. She now leads a vocations team at her parish, which has planned two major prayer events.
Knox, an active member of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa, participated in the MFP program to learn more about her faith. By learning in greater depth about “why we do the things we do,” she is now able to answer questions and dispel misconceptions that come up over coffee with non-Catholic friends.
Schott, a cantor at the Williamsburg parish, is discerning a vocation to the diaconate, for which lay formation is a prerequisite. Throughout the program, he found himself humbled by and in awe of the depths of the Catholic faith. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” he said. “There are so many things I see in a new light now. The greatest gift is the wisdom of knowing why things are the way they are.”
The 2019 graduates are the final students of the Ministry Formation Program (MFP). Individuals interested in lay formation may go to www.davenportdiocese.org/lay-formation or contact Rosina Hendrickson, Lifelong Faith and Lay Ministry Formation coordinator, at (563) 888-4244 or Hendrickson@davenportdiocese.org.