Lay ministers enrich our local church - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Lay ministers enrich our local church

Seven-week-old Savanna was the apple of all eyes as we gathered for Mass on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. She would have been an attraction under any circumstances but on the day on which the Christmas season ended, I think people were more alert than ever to the innocence, beauty and openness of this precious new little girl among us. And, certainly, Andrea and Luis Guzman, her mother and dad, offered affectionate testimony that this vulnerable, tender baby has already changed their lives in substantial and beautiful ways.

The liturgy I mention closed a weekend retreat I was privileged to lead for 60 participants in a lay ministry formation program in the Diocese of Orlando, Fla. They meet 10 weekends a year for three years. On nine of those weekends each year, the focus is on instruction in theology and ministry. On the 10th weekend, they enjoy a retreat experience.

The time with them was a grace for me. I appreciated the opportunity to give expression to a fundamental obligation of every bishop to share with all bishops a concern for all of the churches in our communion. A second blessing was to enjoy the enthusiasm and excitement of those participating in the program. They are mature adults who at considerable personal sacrifice commit to a stimulating but rigorous program. But I can’t tell you how many of them put themselves out to tell me how excited they are to be learning more about the faith they love so much. Third, the brief stay at San Pedro with these great people left me with a renewed awareness of how very blessed we are with the lay ministers who enrich our local church in so many ways and every day.

Because of a choppy morning schedule, I am writing these words between appointments in an office at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, mindful of what a precious resource this institution is in an age in which well-educated lay ministers are so vitally important to the health and well-being and pastoral service of our faith communities.

I don’t know how well-acquainted you are with St. Bernard’s. If you have any curiosity about its mission, if you have any itch to learn more about your faith, if you are drawn to serve others in pastoral ministry, I encourage you to be in touch with the people there. You can do that by calling Laura Smith, director of admissions, at 585-271-3657, ext. 289, or e-mail I know that they would be very pleased to hear from you.

Now that we have celebrated the Christmas season and re-entered ordinary time, I hope that we will all be a little more alert than before to the presence of the living Christ loving and active in the hearts of all joined to his life in baptism.

Peace to all.

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