BLOOMFIELD – Fourteen women and three men from 14 parishes received the praise and encouragement of Archbishop Leonard P. Blair as they were welcomed as newly commissioned lay ministers during a ceremony at the ArchdiocesanCenter at St. Thomas Seminary May 30.
Archbishop Blair, who presented each new lay minister with a certificate and lapel pin, quoted Hans Urs von Balthasar, Swiss theologian and Catholic priest (1905-88), as saying that “truth is not discordant; truth is symphonic.”
The archbishop explained: “We would be wrong to think that bishops, clergy, religious and laity are somehow at odds with one another, that one is predominant over another.” He said that clergy, religious, bishops and laity all have gifts they can share with the church. The newly commissioned lay ministers, he said, “are making their great contributions in a very particular way to this great symphony of faith.”
Mary E. Marsan, coordinator of the lay ministry formation program at the archdiocesan Office of Religious Education and Evangelization (OREE), said this year marks 30 years that the Lay Ministry Formation Program has been in existence in the Archdiocese of Hartford. It is her eighth year as coordinator.
She said, “This is about people accepting the call of their baptism. It’s about recognizing that through our baptism we are called to minister.”
She said people come to lay ministry to educate themselves in the faith as well as to be of service to their parish communities. “It’s ordinary people just rising to the occasion and trying to do the extraordinary, to go beyond their personal limits, to stretch themselves and to be of more service,” she said.
“It’s a quiet ministry. We’re not going to get a lot of pats on the back,” she added.
Maria Roja, of St. Peter Claver Parish, West Hartford, one of the newly commissioned lay ministers, explained why she chose adult faith formation as her ministry: “I think there’s a lot of focus on the children, and I think adults really are looking for something more than the basics.” She added, “Of course, it falls right into the new evangelization as well, so I’m looking forward to getting involved with that at some point.”
Keith Griffin, of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish, West Hartford, said he was originally going to minister to the bereaved but changed his plan because his then-pastor Msgr. Michael J. Motta said there was a need for ministry in baptismal preparation. Mr. Griffin said, “It’s great because you’re with the Catholics at the beginning of their faith and helping them. I have young children, too, so I could relate easily to the baptism process and also because it’s our intent to make it a little bit more evangelical.”
Maura Buyak, of Church of the Incarnation, Wethersfield, will be working in catechetical ministry. She said, “I’m a teacher, in education, and was going toward my doctorate in education and it was so stressful that, you know what, when I leave this world, it doesn’t matter how many degrees I have, but it’s how much closer I’ll be to God and to serving him, so I decided that I wanted to devote my two years of studying – because I love learning – to lay ministry in the Catholic Church.”
Marianne Hogan, of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, Rocky Hill, will specialize in women’s spirituality. She said that women have different spiritual needs than men in many ways. “There’s the feminine piece, the motherly piece and being a wife and being a caretaker and serving the needs of others, which can get quite laborious at times and then we forget our own needs,” she said.
Linda Brierty, of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Harwinton, will take on two ministries: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and ministry to the sick and elderly.
“I’ve been a social worker for 20 years, so I think I’ll be incorporating all the things that interest me, and I think serving God also was a spontaneous thing where you do what is needed at the moment and not just one thing,” she said.
Michael Stella, of St. Joseph Parish, Bristol, will minister to the bereaved and act as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion to the homebound. He noted that he and the other newly commissioned lay ministers are already doing parish work. Of the commissioning, he said: “Is it a formality? Is it a celebration? No, I think it’s both,” he said. “I think it’s just a celebration of the church coming together and affirming our decisions.”
Father Christopher M. Tiano, director of OREE, congratulated the new lay ministers and called them “great role models for all of us and an inspiration to us who taught you and worked with you.”
Others in the lay ministry class of 2014 and their ministries are:
Adult faith formation: Sherri-Lynn Raimo, St. Vincent Ferrer, Naugatuck; and Cheryl Rusczyk, St. John the Evangelist, New Britain;
Ministry to the sick and elderly: Rose Arceri, St. Mary, Portland; Rose Jacobs and Marianne Lagel, St. Therese, Granby; and Joanne Motyl, St. Stephen, Hamden;
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults: Maureen Lowman, Assumption, Ansonia;
Stewardship: Deborah Klotzman, St. Therese, Granby; and
Youth ministry: Robert Brown, St. Mary, Milford; Patricia Whittel, St. Peter Claver, West Hartford; and Karen Klarman-Williams, St. Mary, Branford.
A new two-year lay ministry formation program will begin Sept. 11. It is offered to men and women over the age of 21 by the OREE. Classes are held at the ArchdiocesanCenter at St. Thomas Seminary, 467 Bloomfield Ave., on Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. For more information, call Ms. Marsan at 860-242-5573, ext. 2678, or email her at Mary.Marsan@aohct.org.