Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 19, 2006
'Get off the couch to serve'
Pastoral Service grads challenged to reach out
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
"Our church cries out for hope."
- Fr. Bob Colburn
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Ten women were blessed and sent forth on June 11 to use their new knowledge of faith to serve God and their parishes.
Happily holding their new Formation for Pastoral Service certificates that they had received from Archbishop Emeritus Joseph MacNeil, the graduates seemed eager to head back to their parishes to share their newly acquired skills.
And that's the message that Spiritan Father Bob Colburn delivered to the graduates.
"It is time to get off the couch and get out there," the priest said. "You have to do it. You have to take all the bits and pieces that you learned, put it all together, build on it and start using it."
This was the last graduating class of the FPS program, which has prepared 181 women and men for volunteer lay ministry since it began in 1996. The archdiocese is planning to replace FPS with a different program in the near future.
The two-year program 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, social justice and pastoral skills.
FPS graduates serve their parishes in pastoral ministries, liturgical ministries, sacramental preparation and catechesis, and in many organizations, councils and commissions.
"These (graduates) leave the program knowing what it means to be a mature Catholic Christian," said Margaret O'Connell, the program's acting director for the past two years.
"They have acquired the confidence to share their faith and to serve their parish communities. This confidence comes from their own personal growth, renewed prayer life and love of God and a strong faith foundation upon which to build."
MacNeil, who initiated the program in 1996, and Newman president Bryn Kulmatycki handed out the certificates to the graduates before a crowd of 120 people.
"You have a responsibility to bring hope; you have to bring hope to our Church (because) our church cries out for hope," Colburn, the FPS spiritual advisor, told the graduates. "Let's bring hope to the people you live and work with."
FPS graduates are also called to become bridge builders. "We need good bridge builders. We need people who would listen, people who don't always have to have the answers but who allow people to tell their story," Colburn said.
"We want to reach out. We want to invite those on the fringes to come into the centre just as Jesus did. We want to look beyond the appearances. We want to invite the woman in the well. We want to invite the lepers.
"We want to go out and seek those and welcome them and bring them to the centre. And in doing that we will bring hope not just to our own selves, not to the people we touch but to the whole Church."