By Katherine Long
Two years of study and prayer concluded with contagious joy Nov. 4 as the diocese’s newest lay ecclesial ministers were commissioned by Bishop Robert J. Cunningham.
The commissioning ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception served as a graduation of sorts for the 22 individuals who made up the 2017 class of the diocese’s Formation for Ministry program.
The two-year program is composed of 10 five-week courses, training and experience in ministry, and time spent on retreat and in prayer. Through the program, students earn certification in one of several specific areas of ministry: Faith Formation, Liturgy/RCIA, Youth Ministry, Parish Business Administration, and Parish Service Ministry. Candidates in the program are sponsored by their parishes and are asked to give three years of service there following their commissioning. Of the 2017 class, 19 members were commissioned for parish service ministry (one in absentia), two were commissioned for liturgical/RCIA ministry, and one was recommissioned for parish service minstry.
Formation for Ministry is designed for those serving in their parishes who perhaps feel a call to do more, said Eileen Ziobrowski, associate director of the program.
“It gives people the tools to go and serve the Lord in knowledge and faith, and helps them also to become aware of the need to continue to develop their own faith and formation and to walk with God in a special way,” she said.
In his homily, Bishop Cunningham noted that as the years unfold, hundreds will benefit from the ministers’ gifts and skills.
He spoke of the call to be missionary disciples and of the laity’s indispensible role in the life and mission of the Church. “You are the Church — co-responsible with the bishops, priests, and members of consecrated life for the Church’s mission ‘to go forth’ and proclaim the Gospel,” he said.