Mass for Lay Ministry Program participants


Photo by James A. McBride

bishopwithlayministers-webBishop Joseph Galante poses for a photo with newly commissioned lay ecclesial ministers who were commissioned Nov. 18 at St. Anthony Church, St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish, Hammonton. Pictured from left are Andres Arango, Carroll-Jo Kennedy, Mary Lou Hughes, Mary Ann Exler, and Rod Herrera.

The Diocese of Camden’s Lay Ministry Formation Program held its annual celebration of the Eucharist for participants, family, faculty and friends, at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish in Hammonton on Nov. 18.

The Lay Ministry Formation Program educates the laity of the Camden Diocese for parish ministry through college level certificate and degree programs, all delivered in the diocese in partnership with nationally-recognized institutions.

The liturgy, with more than 150 in attendance, was celebrated in English and Spanish. Bishop Joseph Galante presided and performed the Rite of Commissioning for five lay ecclesial ministers who have completed the required “human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation,” and ongoing discernment to serve the Diocese of Camden. The five will “collaborate with ordained and lay ministers in distinct and complementary ways, (to) continue in the church the saving mission of Christ for the world,” as explained at the Mass.

The principal celebrant for the liturgy was Father Joel Arciga Camarillo, parochial vicar of St. Joseph Pro-Cathedral in Camden. Music was provided by the Ministers of Music at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Parish.

The lay ecclesial ministers commissioned were Andres Arango, delegate for Hispanic Ministry and director of Evangelization for the Diocese of Camden, and parishioner of Our Lady of Peace, Williamstown; Mary Ann Exler, pastoral associate and director of Religious Education at St. Charles Borromeo, Sicklerville, where she is a parishioner; Rod Herrera, director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the diocese, and parishioner of Sacred Heart, Camden; Mary Lou Hughes, co-director of Faith and Family Life Formation for the diocese, and parishioner of St. Joseph, Sea Isle City; and Carroll-Jo Kennedy, Parish Council Member and Chair of the English-language Liturgy Committee at Most Precious Blood, West Collingswood, where she is a parishioner.

Lapel Pins, of the Carolingian Cross and Circle, were given to the newly-commissioned Lay Ecclesial Ministers, as a sign of their commissioning.

Also known as the Everlasting Cross, the Carolingian Cross originated in France in the seventh century, and includes a series of four intertwined circles which form a cross in the center.  The four knots are reminders of the Holy Trinity and the circle around the cross symbolizes the eternal nature of God, without beginning and without end.

Those completing other programs received diocesan certificates of achievement.

The Lay Ministry Formation Program of the Diocese of Camden provides the human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral formation needed to serve competently and confidently in parish ministry.  Students take classes at various diocesan locations and online.  Tuition costs are discounted by partnering institutions and financial assistance is available through the diocese and local parishes.

Participating institutions include the University of Dayton, Villanova University, Neumann University, The College of St. Elizabeth, Georgian Court University, St. Joseph’s College of Maine, the Church Ministry Institute of Camden and the Lay Ecclesial Ministry of Camden.

For more information on the Lay Ministry Formation Program of the Diocese of Camden, contact Linda Robinson at 856-583-6116, or