Faithful 14 sent forth to serve as Lay Ecclesial Ministers

By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

She cleaned teeth and chipped away at any fear that clung to the patient.

“The dentist’s chair is a scary place; a lot of people are afraid of the dentist,” said Gloria Palmiere, who retired after 43 years as a dental hygienist. “So I think I learned to have a rapport with people. I would talk to them about their families, their kids, their likes, like what they enjoyed doing outside of their jobs. … It’s kind of the same way here really with the evangelization.”

Lay Ecclesial Minister Gloria Hunt, of Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville, proclaims the reading of Romans 12:3-11. (Sun photos | Chuck Wainwright)

Palmiere was one of 14 people who were commissioned or recommissioned as Lay Ecclesial Ministers in a live-streamed ceremony Sept. 20 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse.

“You will encourage others to live their faith, help call back those who have strayed, and stir others to inquire about the faith,” Bishop Emeritus Robert J. Cunningham told the group.

By participating in the Formation for Ministry Program of the Diocese of Syracuse, the bishop said, the lay ministers have devoted their time (two years for the commissioned, one for the recommissioned), effort, and gifts to learn more about their faith.

“It gives me great pleasure,” the bishop told the ministers, “following the example of Christ, to appoint you, and to send you forth into the towns and villages of our beloved diocese so that others will come to know the Lord’s everlasting love and mercy through your example.”

Serving God and neighbor

Carl Foriero, of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Baldwinsville, delivers the Reflection for his Lay Ecclesial Ministers Class of 2020. “Yes, God, I’m listening,” he says.

Eileen Ziobrowski, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Formation for Ministry Program, said the ministers have publicly committed to serve God and neighbor; studied theology; developed skills in workshops; attended retreats; undergone supervision and evaluation in their area of ministry; and been “affirmed by sponsors as people gifted and called to share their talents in the ministry of the church.” They will perform Parish Service Ministry, Parish Business Administration, or Liturgical and RCIA Ministries.

Palmiere, of DeWitt, works in Parish Service Ministry at St. Matthew Church in East Syracuse. “When I retired,” she said, “I wanted to have something to do because I was always used to kind of having a schedule. And I for many years before that felt the call from the Lord to help out with the church, but I really couldn’t because I was working. But when I retired I thought, OK, this is it. I’ve got the time now.”

Formation for Ministry is a two-year program 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: Family/Respect Life, 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. For more information about Formation for Ministry, contact Eileen Ziobrowski at (315) 470-1491 or


She helps out with the funeral ministry, serves as a lector, and schedules the lectors for Masses. She was on the evangelization committee with the Alpha program, which explores the Christian faith, until it was shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Palmiere has a 29-year-old son and three grandchildren. Her father died five years ago, so she lives with her mom. “She is blessed with good health and a good mind,” she said. “She’s very, very, very vital for 94 years old, and it’s just a joy to be around her.”

Even a golf assist

Monsignor Neal E. Quartier, Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, says in his greeting: “It’s great that we can gather together in these very difficult times. … Congratulations, welcome, and you’re always welcome to come to the Cathedral.”

Joy, humor, and dedication also define newly commissioned minister Carl Foriero, of Baldwinsville, who ministers at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in that village.

“We all have our personal inspiration for completing the Formation for Ministry Program,” he told the gathering in his emotional Reflection for the Class of 2020. “Mine is simply to help Father Joe O’Connor during Mass as well as wherever my skill set applies.

“I even went so far as to provide the golf ball Father O’Connor used for his first hole-in-one. How much more must one do?” he said while looking back at Bishop Cunningham, who chuckled.

As a certified clinical perfusionist, Foriero runs the heart-lung machine during open-heart surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center. In an interview last week, he explained: “The surgeon and I … turn off the patient’s heart and lungs. I keep the patient alive mechanically while the surgeon does his work, between one and two hours’ worth of work. And then after that one to two hours, we turn the heart back on, and we close them up and get them up into … intensive care where they can recover.”

He prays the Joyful and the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary on his way to work, and the Glorious and Luminous Mysteries on his way home.

“God has been good to us because we are still here together,” he said of his family: wife Debra and daughters Marissa and Megan.

Proud of his group

Louis Alfonsetti, Jr. holds his recommissioning document. (Sun photo | Chuck Wainwright)

The 2020 Class of Lay Ecclesial Ministers, Foriero said, “shared our joys and victories as well as our sorrows and defeats” with one another.

He added: “This group dealt with many of life’s serious and challenging issues along the way. Some focused on the passing of our parents, assisted with friends or family members diagnosed with cancer and heart disease, or were even overwhelmed at our job, and one classmate even had surgery.

“It’s even possible that COVID-19, this worldwide pandemic, disrupted our lives; yet we managed to complete our commitment transitioning to online formatted instruction.

“Through our studies of Ignatian spirituality, pastoral care, evangelization, and all our classwork we comforted each other as family.”

Foriero cited Matthew 6:20-21: “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

He noted that Lay Ecclesial Ministers serve as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, catechists, sacristans, and much more for their parish.

Studies are continuing for Class of 2020 member Bill Sweeney, of Kirkville, the CEO of a local credit union and a minister at Blessed Sacrament Church, Syracuse. This month, he started classes to become a deacon.

They noticed his gift

Eileen Ziobrowski, Associate Director of the Formation for Ministry Program, says the new Lay Ecclesial Ministers have studied for two years; the recommissioned Lay Ecclesial Ministers, for one year. They all, she says, “have answered the call to discipleship.”

Sweeney said he “was kind of trying to be open to what God wanted me to do with this next step. Four or five people out of the blue, just out of random, happened to strike up conversations that involved ‘I’m surprised you’re not a deacon,’ or ‘Have you ever thought about being a deacon?’

“And I don’t need to be hit across the head with a two-by-four too often to know that that was kind of God guiding me toward that path.”

So he met with Father Louis Aiello, who led the Office of Deacon Formation until his death in 2019: “I basically gave him a history of my life in about half an hour over breakfast, and he said, ‘I have no doubt that you’re being called to ministry; whether the Lord’s purpose is for that to come to fruition and be ordained, nobody knows.’”

Sweeney taught religious education for about 12 years at another parish. He has also worked as a Eucharistic minister and a lector at Blessed Sacrament and he had been doing hospital ministry at St. Joseph’s until the coronavirus pandemic hit.

He is doing telephone outreach to older Blessed Sacrament and St. Vincent (Syracuse) parishioners who are isolated and need some companionship — “trying to lift their spirits, pray with them, and things like that.”

He plans to continue his CEO work while studying for the diaconate. “I have a boatload of homework for seven classes that I’m diligently working on,” he said.

Heavenly scriptwriter

Lay Ecclesial Minister Gloria Palmiere receives her commission (Sun photo | Chuck Wainwright)

Asked about his expectations for being a deacon, he said: “I’m really trying to stay open and let the Lord write the script and not try to impose one on him.”

Addressing the lay ministers, Bishop Cunningham quoted St. Paul  (Galatians 2:20): “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me.”

Then he quoted St. Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body now but yours.”

The bishop offered his prayers, best wishes, and deep appreciation for the 14 ministers’ “willingness to assume a new role in the life of the Church. Remember always you represent Christ. You represent the Church. Always remember that as you go about and fulfill your duties. May God give success to the work of your hands and your heart, and renewed peace to all whom you serve.”


Lay Ecclesial Ministers 2020


Joseph Assaf

Holy Family

Rev. John D. Manno,

Sponsor and Supervisor

Ronald Barnes

St. Stephen, Phoenix

Rev. Joseph E. Scardella, Sponsor

Dc. Jeff Dean, Supervisor

Michael J. Dozoretz

Parish of Sts. John and Andrew, Binghamton

Rev. Msgr. Michael Meagher, Sponsor

Karen Howard, Supervisor

Carl A. Foriero

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Baldwinsville

Rev. Joseph M. O’Connor

Sponsor and Supervisor

Michael L. Goodnough    

St. Patrick-St. Brigid, Syracuse

Rev. Kevin Maloney

Sponsor and Supervisor

Gloria Hunt

Immaculate Conception, Fayetteville

Rev. Thomas J. Ryan

Sponsor and Supervisor

Gloria Palmiere

St. Matthew, East Syracuse

Dc. Nick Alvaro

Sponsor and Supervisor

Renee Rosier

St. Joseph the Worker, Liverpool

Rev. Daniel J. O’Hara

Sponsor and Supervisor

William Sweeney

Blessed Sacrament, Syracuse

Rev. SeverineYagaza, Sponsor

Rev. Francis Pompei, Supervisor

Scott Edward Walrath

Transfiguration, Rome

Rev. Paul F. Angelicchio, Sponsor

Dc. Michael Gudaitis, Supervisor

Parish Business Administration

Marykaye Payne

St. Paul, Rome

Rev. Robert L. Kelly, Sponsor Patricia Pagano, Supervisor


Louis A. Alfonsetti, Jr.

Our Lady of Good Counsel, Endicott

Rev. Michael Galuppi

Sponsor and Supervisor

Liturgical and RCIA Ministries

Mary Rougeau

Blessed Sacrament, Syracuse

Rev. Severine Yagaza

Sponsor and Supervisor

Parish Business Administration

Kathryn C. Rowlands

St. Joan of Arc, Morrisville

Rev. Jason Hage

Sponsor and Supervisor

Parish Service Ministry

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