Bishop celebrates Lay Ministry Mass

Bishop celebrates Lay Ministry Mass
Individuals involved in the Camden Diocese’s Lay Ministry Formation Program, who were part of the procession of lay ministers and families, wait to enter Saint Isidore the Farmer Church, Christ the Good Shepherd Parish, Vineland, on Jan. 10. Some carried objects symbolic of their studies. Photo by James A. McBride

Individuals involved in the Camden Diocese’s Lay Ministry Formation Program, who were part of the procession of lay ministers and families, wait to enter Saint Isidore the Farmer Church, Christ the Good Shepherd Parish, Vineland, on Jan. 10. Some carried objects symbolic of their studies.
Photo by James A. McBride

Baptism is like a passport to do ministry, Bishop Dennis Sullivan said to those involved in lay ministry formation and other worshippers at St. Isidore the Farmer Church, Christ the Good Shepherd Parish, Vineland.

With seven priests as concelebrants, Bishop Sulliban celebrated the Lay Ministry Mass on Jan. 10, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

There were more than 200 people in attendance, including students and their families, as well as instructors in the various aspects of Lay Ministry Formation offered by the Diocese of Camden: University Study, the Church Ministry Institute of Camden/Instituto de Ministerio Eclesial de Camden, and the former Camden Biblical Institute.

The students involved in formation represent English, Spanish and Vietnamese communities. (Parts of the Mass were celebrated in Spanish.) Their ministries are as diverse as the needs in the church. Some are on parish and diocesan staff, while others are volunteers. They serve the youth, the poor, the sick, the elderly, children, adults seeking updating in their faith, and more.

In his homily, Bishop Sullivan referenced a Catholic writer from the Protestant South, as well as the Gospels and Pope Francis, to speak about the significance of baptism and the call to ministry.

Referencing Flannery O’Connor’s short story “The River,” the bishop described a Southern preacher at a river who was calling his listeners to present themselves for baptism.

A child came forward, and the preacher asked, “Have you ever been baptized?”

The child said, “What’s that?”

The preacher said, “If you’re baptized, you’ll count!” He plunged the child into the river and said, “You count now! You didn’t count before.”

Jesus’ true identity as the Son of God became evident at his baptism by John the Baptist, the bishop said.

Likewise, he continued, as Jesus’ followers, through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, “We count now.”

Ministry is to love, serve and witness like Christ and to do it in the church, building up the body of Christ, Bishop Sullivan said.

“Pope Francis reminds us that all are agents of evangelization — of ministry. We are always missionary disciples. That’s what Lay Ministry

is all about,” he said. “I encourage your labors. Don’t forget — every one of you counts!”

JoLynn Ryan Krempecki, director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Diocese of Camden, said that the annual Mass is “a wonderful opportunity to celebrate with gratitude the generous ‘yes’ of so many lay women and men to Jesus’ call to ministry.”

“The future of the church in South Jersey depends on well-formed ministers — clergy, religious and lay — with hearts for evangelization and service,” she said. “The Lay Ministry Formation Program strives to provide lay ministers with the tools they need to respond to their baptismal call to be, as Pope Francis said, ‘missionary disciples.’”

The Mass began with a procession of lay ministers and family members. Representatives of all aspects of the Lay Formation Ministry Program were represented.

Categories: Latest News

About Author