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Archives Growing in faith, growing as a couple

Aug. 26, 2020

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing Writer

CLAYTON – When Wanda and JB Kavanaugh signed up for the Formation for Ministry program, they knew the journey would strengthen their relationship with God and their parish. What they did not expect was the program would strengthen their relationship with each other.

The Clayton couple hasbeen married for 42 years and are active parishioners at St. Mary’s Church, where Wanda serves as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharistic and JB serves as an usher. Both volunteer for whatever space needs to be filled. Wanda was 18 years old when she converted to Catholicism before marrying JB at the now closed St. Michael’s Church in Antwerp. She said she has grown into the faith over the years but was looking to learn more. She decided on the Formation for Ministry program.

“I kind of decided I needed to wait until I was retired, then all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit was there, and it was now, this is when I was supposed to take it,” said Wanda.

Wanda, along with Father Arthur J. LaBaff, encouraged JB to go along for the journey. JB agreed that it just seemed like the next step to take in his faith journey.

Recently, the two-year program went mainly online. Wanda and JB said while the individual may see the lack of in-person classes as a loss, for them, it was a gain.

“I think we have more conversations, because it is just the two of us,” said Wanda.

“When our kids grew up and left, there’s that time period where we drifted in our faith community between the two of us, and this has really put me back to those memories of 42 years ago of how we were together with our faith, so I think that has really helped us tremendously.”

“Let’s be honest, we’ve been married 42 years,” JB said. “You have habits and patterns, so I would say those habits and patterns have shifted over the years.”

Taking the program together has allowed the couple to share in a way they haven’t in years thanks to the self-reflective questions they must complete each week that go along with readings and videos. Each course takes around four weeks to complete.

The course “Mapping Your Inner Landscape” begs the questions, how can I fit in my parish family? How can I make best use of my gifts and talents? The Kavanaughs said the explorative topic said stood out to them, allowing them to grow as a couple and as human beings. They’ve welcomed fellow parishioners and Father LaBaff into their home for dinners, an activity they acknowledge they may not have considered in the past, and they credit the program for leading them to that openness. Upon completion in May 2021, Wanda and JB will be Commissioned Lay Ministers.

JB said he felt the Formation program offers participants an opportunity to develop their faith and develop as people.

“Even if they walked away saying ‘I don’t really know if I want to help or not,’ it’s good for personal growth,” said JB.

Wanda said she would recommend Formation for Ministry to anyone, but to be able to do it as a married couple, she claims is beneficial in many ways.

“It’s laughter, it’s tears,” she said. “It’s just so much enjoyment doing it together. I just know I can’t imagine doing it without him.”

If you’re interested in becoming a Commissioned Lay Minister through Formation for Ministry within the Diocese of Ogdensburg, go to www.rcdony.org/formation or contact Cathy Russell at (315) 393-2920.



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