Pastoral Ministries’ workshop offers new opportunity for ‘easy listening’

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Every year lay pastoral leaders gather for a week-long series of retreats and classes offered by the diocesan Department of Faith Formation. Most of them are going through a five-year certification program for catechists in the diocese, but this year, the Pastoral Ministries Workshop is open to anyone who wants to attend one of the classes, even if that person does not wish to enroll in the certification program at this time.
While the classes were never formally closed to other students, Fran Lavelle, director of Faith Formation, wanted to make it especially clear this year that all are welcome.
“We heard at the listening sessions that people are hungry for good faith formation opportunities. We have some wonderful presenters and we want people who are interested in these topics to feel welcome,” said Lavelle.  Bishop Joseph Kopacz hosted a series of Listening Sessions in February to start the process of pastoral planning for the diocese. While the final results are still being processed, some departments are able to address some common themes that emerged immediately.
The workshop is at Lake Tia O’Kahata in Louisville, is June 6-9. Classes this year include:
– Effective communications in ministry taught by Leo Trahan, director of religious education for the Diocese of Biloxi.
– Developing, maintaining and balancing programs taught by Janet Masline, associate director of religious education for the Archdiocese of Mobile.
– Ministry and Canon Law, taught by Father Kevin Slattery, Vicar General for the Diocese of Jackson.
– Spiritual and Prayer Leadership in a Parish taught by Father John Bohn, pastor of Jackson St. Richard Parish.
– Lay Reflecting from a Prayerful Heart taught by Sheila Przesmicki, lay ecclesial minister of Booneville St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
The cost for the week-long workshop is $500, which includes a room, meals and materials. Those who wish to commute can pay $200 for meals and  materials. Scholarships to pay for a third of the cost are available to anyone who is in the diocesan lay ministry formation program.
In addition to classes, the Pastoral Ministries Workshop offers retreat opportunities for catechists. The Pastoral Ministries Retreat starts Sunday, June 5, at 3 p.m.  and ends Monday, June 6, after lunch. The cost is $120 for this guided retreat. This covers three meals, one night lodging, and program expense.
An extended retreat which begins Monday, June 6, after lunch will run through Thursday, June 9, after lunch.  Retreatants will meet as a group for guided reflections on the 2016 catechetical theme, “Prayer: The Faith Prayed.” Every year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) selects a different catechetical theme which parishes, schools and individuals can embrace and explore.
The cost for just this extended retreat is $400. This covers three nights lodging, 10 meals, and program expense. Participants may combine the Sunday/Monday retreat with the extended retreat for a reduced combo rate of $485. The retreat portion of this week is intended for catechists and those in the lay formation program.
Registrations for all classes are due May 23. To request a registration form, email Lavelle at or call her at 601-960-8473.