Bishop celebrates Mass for Lay Ministry students

Bishop celebrates Mass for Lay Ministry students

bishop-webBishop Joseph A. Galante offers a blessing at the end of Mass for participants and faculty in the Camden Diocesan Lay Ministry Formation Program and their family and friends. The Mass was celebrated Jan. 9 in Holy Family Church, Sewell.

On Sunday, Jan. 9, on the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, 140 participants of the Lay Ministry Formation Program, together with their families, gathered for a 2 p.m. Eucharistic celebration at Holy Family Church in Sewell. Bishop Joseph Galante presided at this second annual gathering of student-participants in the Lay Ministry Formation Program.

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord was chosen as the day for this celebration in order to deepen the laity’s awareness of their rights and responsibilities in the church given them by baptism.

The nearly 300 participants in the Lay Ministry Formation Program have accepted the invitation to obtain the education and formation necessary to become qualified, competent lay ministers. Each of these individuals is an active member of their parish and is, or will be, assisting their pastors and pastoral staffs to further the pastoral priorities so they take root in and flourish within their parish communities.

During the Mass, speaking in English and in Spanish, the bishop thanked those gathered for their commitment and service to their parishes, and spoke of the importance of having well-formed lay ministers serving God’s people now and into the future in the parishes of South Jersey.

The formation of lay ministers is one of the six pastoral priorities named by Bishop Galante as a direct result of the parish “Speak-Ups” conducted between March 2005 and May 2006. Lay Ministry Formation is integral to Lifelong Faith Formation, an integrated journey of the entire Catholic Christian community in response to the baptismal call to holiness as members of the Body of Christ. It is the growing awareness of God’s self-revelation and personal response in which one is drawn more deeply into relationship with Jesus Christ and his church.

Those women and men studying in the Lay Ministry Formation program seek to understand the Story and Mission of Jesus in order to place the Truths and Tradition of the Catholic faith at the service of God’s people. Intellectual, pastoral and spiritual formation of the Lay Ministry Formation Programs is accomplished through a variety of diocesan certificate and college certificate and degree programs in virtual and hybrid learning communities, and in satellite locations around the diocese.

Since the program’s beginning in January 2009, the diocese has formed partnerships with Georgian Court University, College of St. Elizabeth, Neumann University, University of Dayton, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, and the Center for Ministry Development. Most partnerships allow for a 50 percent discount in tuition with the balance divided equally among parish, diocese and student.

Recently, a diocesan certificate program has been created for those seeking to study but who do not desire a credit-bearing academic program. (See related article, Church Ministry Institute of Camden.) New partnerships continue to be explored to create a diversity of learning opportunities for Catholics in the Camden Diocese.

Individuals who are discerning the call to ministry must seek the recommendation of their pastors or principals but may be self-initiated. Most who are accepted into the program are already engaged in parish ministry. Applications to the Lay Ministry Formation program are accepted year round.

For further information about the programs, visit the diocesan website www.camdendiocese.org and click on the icon for Lay Ministry Formation at the bottom of the page. Additional information can be found on the site Harvesting God’s Gifts, also on the diocesan web page, or by contacting Linda K. Robinson at linda.krobinson@camdendiocese.org or at 856-583-6116.

Linda K. Robinson is director, Lay Ministry Formation, Diocese of Camden.

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