Lay Ministry Formation – ‘God calls. We respond.’


Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord (2005), the USCCB document that presents the vision of the United States bishops regarding lay ministry, begins with four words: “God calls. We respond.” The Diocese of Camden facilitates and enriches this response of the laity by providing formation for women and men in ministry.
The Lay Ministry Formation offers unique avenues for the development of the minister:
• Master’s level study in Theology through Georgian Court University
• Online Master’s level study in Theology through St. Joseph College of Maine
• Master’s level study in Church Management through Villanova University
• Master’s Certificates in Spiritual Direction (in-seat) and Undergraduate Degree completion (online) through Neumann University
• Undergraduate study in Pastoral Ministry (English and Spanish – online and in-seat) through the College of St. Elizabeth
• Diocesan Certificate through Church Ministry Institute of Camden (CMIC)
• Diocesan Catechist Certificate through Church Ministry Institute of Camden for Catechists (CMIC 4C)
• Diocesan Certificate (Spanish) through Instituto de Ministerio Eclesial de Camden (IMEC)
• Online non-credit bearing Certificate through Dayton University (English and Spanish)
Each of these opportunities is delivered with consideration for location, cost and the needs of the parish and parish minister. The Diocese of Camden is diligently striving to make formation accessible for those lay persons who “generously and extensively cooperate with their pastors in the service of the ecclesial community” (Co-Workers, p. 9).
Adequate preparation for lay ministers is essential to the life of the Church. The Code of Canon Law states: “Lay persons who devote themselves permanently or temporarily to some special service of the Church are obliged to acquire the appropriate formation which is required to fulfill their function properly and to carry it out conscientiously, zealously, and diligently” (Canon 231.1). Formation benefits the individual who grows in faith through the experience, but it also benefits the parish and diocese. Better formed ministers are better workers in the Vineyard of the Lord!
On this page and the next are testimonials from individuals in the Lay Ministry Formation Program.
For information about any of the exciting Camden Diocese formation possibilities – or to apply – contact JoLynn Ryan Krempecki, Director of Lay Ministry Formation. Phone: 856-583-6116, Email:, Fax: 856-583-6190.

Lay Ministry Formation Testimonials

Maryann Mohan
St. Charles Borromeo, Sicklerville

RCIA, Hospitality

In the continuing journey to deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ and discern the call to discipleship, I responded to the Church Ministry Institute of Camden (CMIC). Bishop Joseph Galante had encouraged the laity to be involved in parish ministry and to continue their education but I never thought I would be going back to school.
I had been involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) in my parish for about two years as a member of the RCIA team and as a sponsor. I learned so much from attending the meetings with the candidates and catechumens. One speaker in particular, Mary Ann Exler, our pastoral associate, made an impression on me with her depth of knowledge, her confidence in the saving power of Our Lord and her self-confidence. I wanted to be able to do my best when it was my turn to make a presentation in the RCIA.
With the support of my pastor, Father Michael Matveenko, and the encouragement of my husband, Dennis, I began the first year of CMIC which entails survey courses on topics such as the Old and New Testament, Christology, and Church Ministry Skills. The facilitators are excellent! Group discussion is the norm as we explore our faith and encourage each other along the way. We all agree that there have been changes in our lives. Evangelization becomes second nature when you have shored up your faith foundation.
Another wonderful aspect of CMIC is time for introspection to see where the Lord is working in our lives and how we have integrated what we learned into our family, work and parish life.
I am currently in the second year of the three-year program. I look forward to continuing to help in my parish any way I can, most especially with adult faith formation.


Barbara Sykora

Christ the Good Shepherd, Vineland

Director of Music Ministries

After reading about the Lay Ministry Formation Program, I attended an information session to see if it was “for me.” I first thought I was too old to begin studies and wouldn’t have enough time, but upon committing to the journey, I found it to be the most enjoyable night of my week, a time for making wonderful new friends and discovering a new person in myself. I realized that I had much to learn and yet knew in my heart I had much to give.
My husband, George, my pastor, Msgr. John Burton, along with clergy in my parish supported me in my studies, and the professors were patient and understanding, aware of the fact that we were adults with full-time jobs. The questions and doubts I had about our faith were answered, and I felt secure in vocalizing my thoughts and opinions, even if I raised an eyebrow!
As a director of music ministries in my parish, what I have learned not only benefits me, but also is useful to the people in our parish and in our ecumenical community. I have the knowledge and resources on hand to delve more fully into the Scripture readings and psalms. When the Word of God is understood and close to your heart, it shows and people will know it. You will convey it to others in an authentic way, possibly through a beautiful melody and words that touch your soul in sung music, maybe it will come through reading Scripture with others, or perhaps simply by lending an ear to someone who needs you at that moment, hoping to bring them closer to God.
I happily watch the activity in our parish with new ministries, some of which I have been proud to have spearheaded, and I’m looking forward to new projects I hope to introduce.
Perhaps the greatest thing I have learned is that you really can “change the world.”
We do this work with Jesus in mind, quietly and gently, helping one person at a time in the way that they need help. “Do not be afraid” is mentioned in the Bible over 300 times. This is the best advice I could give to anyone considering this journey. Do not be afraid – take a step of faith! Make it your business to change the world!


Harry Cherico
St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Egg Harbor Township

Leader of Charismatic Prayer Group, coordinator for prison ministry, Spiritual Life and Faith Formation Committee, Pastoral Council member, Eucharistic Minister, Facilitate communion services 2 or 3 times a month.

When I read about the master’s program at Georgian Court University which was to be offered through the diocese, I knew it was an answer to prayer. About a year prior to the start of the program, I was coordinating a Life in the Spirit Seminar along with a county group called the Servants of the Church. A priest from Philadelphia, Father Rayford Emmons, was invited to celebrate Mass.
Father Emmons prayed for individual requests from people at the conclusion of Mass. When the church was nearly empty, he asked if I wanted to be prayed for. I wanted to say no because I felt he must be tired and I didn’t think I had any pressing needs. Nonetheless, he insisted and this is what he told me. “I see much education in your future.” I felt excited but I wondered how this could happen. About a year later, when the offer to attend GCU came, I took it to be God’s will for me.
The opportunity has been one of the best things in my life. I believe that learning more about God has deepened my passion for him while increasing my love for family and neighbor. I have learned much about compassion by serving in prison ministry. I look forward to experiencing the continuing joy of lay ministry.


Freddy Tejeda Jr.
St. Joseph Parish, Somers Point

Spanish Ministry Youth Director, Youth Director for the Knights of Columbus Council 10220, Liturgical committee member for Saint Joseph, member of the Diocese of Camden Charismatic committee

I became aware of the Instituto de Ministerio Eclesial de Camden (IMEC) program first through my wife who started attending in Northfield. Then I heard about the program again in Ocean City, where I was helping Father Alvaro with the Spanish Ministry at the time.
Some of the benefits I’ve received from this program are, first the knowledge of my faith, second the networking you obtain from meeting different priests, teachers and students.
One of the obstacles that I have encountered is my employment. I was recently sent to a project about an hour away from my home, but the diocese made arrangements for me to continue in the program.
My hopes for the future are to continue working with both English and Spanish speaking communities. Another is to continue my education to better myself and offer the best of myself to God, my church and my community. Lastly, I would like to someday be a deacon to serve God, our church and our community to the fullest of my ability.


Erick & María Isabel Duran
Santa Gianna Berreta Molla Parish, Northfield

Erick Duran: es, vice-presidente del consejo pastoral, ministro extra ordinario de la santa comunión, lector, miembro del comité de la Guadalupana ,coordinador del grupo de oración, caballero de colon, ministro de San Esteban y miembro del secretariado parroquial de formadores de líderes para la liturgia y entre otros más.
María Isabel Duran: ministro extraordinario de la santa comunión, lector, animadora y coordinadora de eventos parroquiales, miembro del comité de la Guadalupana, ministro de san Esteban, y miembro del secretariado parroquial de formadores de líderes para la liturgia etc.

El padre Álvaro Díaz en ese entonces el pastor de San Pedro en Pleasantville, nos motivo con una cordial invitación para participar de la formación de fe para laicos en la universidad de Santa Elizabeth y también durante todo esta jornada hemos tenido el apoyo incondicional de nuestro ahora pastor el padre Patrick Brady de Santa Gianna Berreta Molla en Northfield, gracias a ellos por confiar en nosotros y También a nuestra diócesis de Camden por crear programas tan buenos como estos. Este ha sido para nosotros un regalo de Dios mismo que nos llamo por nuestros nombres para prepararnos y servirle como él se merece.
El Vaticano II en Lumen Gentium dice “Que los laicos están llamados por Dios a cumplir su propio cometido guiándose por el Espíritu Santo, de modo que igual que la levadura, contribuyan desde dentro a la santificación del mundo, brillando con el testimonio de su vida, con su fe, esperanza y caridad, al servicio del prójimo, así la santidad del pueblo de Dios producirá frutos abundantes”. Este es un programa de formación para laicos que ya están en la iglesia y es ofrecido en nuestra diócesis por la necesidad que existe dentro de nuestra misma iglesia de ser renovados y muchas veces hasta catequizados. Estamos seguros que este programa va a seguir ayudando a muchos en nuestras parroquias y a todas esas personas que tienen la inquietud y el deseo de colaborar pero que a veces no se sienten bien preparados para trabajar en la iglesia y en los diferentes ministerios y apostolados. Así que les exhortamos que seamos como la levadura de nuestras Iglesias, que a través estos programas de formación lleguemos hacer luz que trasformen nuestras comunidades y en el día de mañana podamos recoger los frutos, que es trabajar para el Reino de Dios.