By Maureen Smith
The Office of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Jackson continues to respond to the diocesan priority of intentional formation of life-long disciples with new offerings at its annual Pastoral Ministries Retreats and Workshops in the first week of June at Lake Tia O’Kahata.
“One recurring theme that was brought up at all of the listening sessions with Bishop Joseph Kopacz was intentional faith formation for catechists and other lay persons in pastoral ministries including adult faith formation, youth ministry, RCIA and pastoral care,” wrote Fran Lavelle, director of Faith Formation for the diocese in an email. “As we move forward, we are evaluating the programs, workshops and retreats provided by the diocese for professional development and catechetical training. The Pastoral Ministries Workshop is a useful tool to help form and inform Catholic lay leadership for your parish,” she added.
The retreat and workshop is really three events rolled into one week: a retreat for those in ministry, an opportunity for an extended retreat, and a four-day workshop including classes needed to be certified as a lay minister for the diocese. The certification process is five years long and starts at the Pastoral Ministries workshop.
The retreats are guided. The shorter one starts Sunday, June 4, and ends at lunch on Monday, June 5. The cost is $120. The extended retreat starts Monday and runs through Thursday, June 8, and can be combined with the workshop. The extended retreat alone costs $400. The theme this year follows the 2017-2018 catechetical theme announced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, ‘Living as Missionary Disciples.’
The workshop is part of the five-year certification process and each year builds on the previous one, so people taking it tend to form a community with others going through the program. It runs from Monday, June 5, through Thursday, June 8. Classes progress from introductory level theology through prayer, canon law and administration in a parish. The workshop is $500. Those taking a combination of the workshop and the retreat will pay reduced rates and scholarship money is available. The deadline to register is May 15.
The classes are taught by a team of excellent presenters, the atmosphere is relaxing, the daily liturgies are inspiring and for those attending the retreat there is ample opportunity for personal quiet time and reflection. Lavelle said a concerted effort is made to create a welcoming and inviting environment. “A lot of our attendees work for the Church in full time capacities, but some work full time in a job outside the church.” Lavelle hopes to provide a solid formation experience, mixed with great liturgies, and time to make connections that are helpful the other 51 weeks of the year. “We try to maximize the benefits of the limited time we have together,” Lavelle added.
Patti Greene, youth minister at Gluckstadt St. Joseph, and Canton Sacred Heart Parishes, is completing her last year in the program. “For me, the Pastoral Ministries Workshop has made all the difference in how I conduct my ministry. My first year, I had no idea what to expect, and was not looking forward to ‘another workshop.’ But this is not just a workshop. The Pastoral Ministries Workshop is where I finally surrendered my reservations and preconceptions about my ministry and opened myself to the guidance of the Spirit to truly lead my ministry. It was there that I found value in becoming a lifelong disciple and servant, so I could become a better teacher and leader” she said. “Each year that I attend, I discover multitude of resources in materials shared as well as in a network of common experiences and bonds with my brothers and sisters in Christ and in ministry. During this time of spiritual and professional renewal, I began once again my creative process of shaping the next year of our youth ministry. This year, my fifth year, as June approaches, I grow increasingly impatient to begin my next, but hopefully not last, journey to Lake Tiak O’Khata,” Greene added.
To enroll in the certification process or inquire about the retreats, contact Fran Lavelle at (601) 960-8473 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.