Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 19, 2000
Lay program builds confidence
After 2 years of Formation for Pastoral Service, couple ready to tackle ministries
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
In the past two years Joseph Ross Lizotte and his wife Alene have undergone a major transformation.
They have gone from refusing ministry roles in their parish because of a lack of preparation to feeling confident they can serve in almost any parish ministry.
"We have a better understanding of our faith and a better understanding of our Church," Joseph Lizotte told the WCR.
The couple from St. Joseph's Basilica Parish are among 31 lay men and women who graduated June 10 from the two-year Formation for Pastoral Service program at Newman Theological College.
Before a crowd of 200 people, they received certificates from Archbishop Thomas Collins, Newman College president Kevin Carr and program director Kim Wanner. More than 100 people have graduated from the program since it began in 1994.
The program, held one weekend a month from September to June at Newman and at the Grey Nuns Regional Centre, was developed by the Edmonton Archdiocese to offer lay people an opportunity to develop practical skills for parish ministry based on a sound theological foundation.
It covers various areas in theology, Scripture, liturgy, spirituality and pastoral skills.
"This is a great day for the Church and the Archdiocese of Edmonton," convocation speaker Sister Mary Lou Cranston told the graduates.
"The Church is returning to you what rightfully belongs to you. It has given you a sound theological formation which we know you are going to share with us."
Cranston, a professor of moral theology at St. Joseph's University College and a FPS program instructor, urged the graduates to continue their theological formation and to be "men and women of prayer" who "must be madly in love with God as God is madly in love with you."
The Lizottes said the FPS program affected their lives significantly. Through it they learned about the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council and the reasons for the changes. The program also gave them a better grasp of Scripture.
"But the most important thing we learned is that because we are baptized we have a calling from our God to serve in whatever way possible," Joseph Lizotte said.
Now the Lizottes, both Eucharistic ministers at their parish, will serve in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at the basilica.
"I would have never thought of putting my name down for that ministry before," Joseph Lizotte admitted. "Now I'm confident I can serve in any ministry."
Marianne Morrell, a member of St. Mary's Parish in Provost, enrolled in the Formation for Pastoral Service program on her own because she felt she needed the formation.
She said the program gave her a good background in Scripture, heightened her prayer life and made her more aware of the elements of a good liturgy.
"It did a lot for me spiritually and socially too," she said. "I learned that the Church is not necessarily the building but working with people and building community."
Morrell is currently serving in her parish as part of a funeral committee that helps grieving families choose the readings for the funeral liturgy.
George Lucas, another St. Joseph Basilica parishioner, helped launch the FPS program during his time as vice-chair and then chair of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.
"For a guy like me to be a participant in the program is very exciting," he said. "It was very, very rewarding not only spiritually but also socially."
Lucas said the program, which requires all participants to live-in at the Grey Nuns Regional Centre while attending the weekend sessions, "transformed 31 strangers into members of a big family. It was a tremendous experience."
Danielle MacDonald of Edson said the program made her "more aware of God's presence" in her life and has deepened her prayer life. "It helped my spirituality immensely," she said.
The mother of three didn't have a ministry previously. Now she is rural representative of the Family Enrichment Centre and will help with marriage preparation in her parish.
"It's exciting to see the archdiocese including lay people to this extent," she said.