Lay ministers honored and encouraged

Four people who earned degrees in church management pose for a photo with Chuck Zech of Villanova University. Pictured from left are Jim Lanahan, Carolynn Thompson, Zech, Joyce Burnett and Anne Marie Gavin. Photos by James A. McBride
Bishop Dennis Sullivan blesses a child following Mass for lay ministers Nov. 5 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Hammonton.

“We need you,” Bishop Dennis Sullivan said to more than 250 individuals at the Mass for Lay Ministry Formation.

Speaking in both English and Spanish, the bishop offered closing remarks at the Mass, celebrated Nov. 5, at St. Anthony of Padua Church, St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Hammonton.
Emphasizing the New Evangelization, Bishop Sullivan urged the lay ministers to follow Jesus’ example to “go and teach” in “a world where God is denied, where people think there is no need for God. It is a society of consumerism, hedonism, accumulation of wealth.”

“God’s people need you,” he said. “You have come to seek formation for ministry. Now go and evangelize in your parishes, your work and your communities.”
Msgr. John Burton, Vicar General and pastor of Christ the Good Shepherd Parish in Vineland, was the principal celebrant of the Mass.
The ministry “belongs to you as much as to (the ordained),” he said, addressing the students in the lay ministry formation programs offered in the Diocese of Camden, their guests, alumni, and representatives and instructors from partner universities.

“It is the responsibility of all the baptized. You offer a great gift to the church,” he said.
Acknowledging the demands of family and jobs, Msgr. Burton said that using one’s gifts for the service of Christ can be exciting but also unsettling. Formation is “a giving of yourself just a little bit more to Christ and to his service,” he said.

“Faith calls us to give the gift of self and to leave it in God’s hands,” he said. “We do our best, trusting that he will use our best to build his body.”
After the homily, Andres Arango, director of Evangelization for the diocese and the Bishop’s Delegate for Hispanic Ministry, translated Msgr. Burton’s words into Spanish.

A total of 157 men and women were honored during the evening. They have earned one of the following:
– a master’s degree in theology from Georgian Court University, Lakewood;
– a master’s in sacred theology from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia;
– a master’s in church management from Villanova University;
– undergraduate certificate in pastoral ministry from the College of St. Elizabeth;
– Church Ministry Institute of Camden, Catechist Certificate or Parish Ministry Certificate Levels 1, 2, or 3; or
– Instituto de Ministerio Eclesial de Camden, Certificado en Catequesis o Certificado en Ministerio Parroquial Niveles uno, dos, y tres.

The men and women honored “have given up their time to learn about their faith and have given their talent to serve – in so many ways,” said JoLynn Krempecki, director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Diocese of Camden.

“They are catechists, spiritual directors, parish catechetical leaders, Catholic school teachers, liturgical ministers, music ministers, prayer group leaders, sacristans, parish secretaries and so much more. In many cases, they are the first face of Christ to those who come seeking him in the church.” she said. “There are many others who are currently discerning a call to formation for ministry across the Diocese of Camden. We hope that the Spirit inspires many of them to step forward and to embrace the great opportunities for formation for Lay Ministry offered by the Office of Lifelong Faith Formation.”