Photos by Alan M. Dumoff
Hispanic students from several parishes who are completing courses in lay ministry formation came together April 26 for a retreat at St. Pius X Spiritual Life Center in Blackwood.
Since most are parish workers as well as students, they started the day with the people they knew. But with a little encouragement, before the day ended, new friendships were formed, people from the shore were trading ministry stories with people from Camden City, Carneys Point and Lindenwold, and everyone was singing together in one voice.
There are 100 Hispanic students currently taking classes through the Instituto de Ministerio Eclesial de Camden (IMEC) and most of them attended the retreat, which largely focused on the family as domestic church in preparation for the upcoming October extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. The presenter for the day was Father Rene Pulgarin, current pastor of Christ the Redeemer Parish in Mount Holly (Trenton Diocese), who served for several years as coordinator/spiritual director of the Trenton Diocesan Spanish Family Life Program.
The retreat participants were students in one of the six-week IMEC courses sponsored by the Lay Ministry Formation Program, Diocese of Camden. The courses – designed to provide students with a foundation in theological studies, pastoral skills and spiritual development – are held at several locations in the Diocese of Camden: Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Atlantic City; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Lindenwold; St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral, Camden; St. Gabriel the Archangel, Carneys Point; and St. Damien, Ocean City.
Some are lectors or Eucharistic Ministers, others are involved in the charismatic renewal or are members of parish council, or some other kind of parish work. Several married couples were among the attendees.
During the second half of the retreat the participants were broken into smaller groups. Kathia Arango, registrar for Lay Ministry Formation/Office of Lifelong Faith Formation, for example, spoke to the third year students on “Sent to Mission.” After a day of group sharing, it was appropriate to end with an emphasis on the need to evangelize, said Arango.
Father Pulgarin led a workshop for first year students on the topic “Called and Gifted,” and Andres Arango, Delegate for Hispanic Ministry led the second year students in a workshop on “Discernment for Ministry.”