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Archives Bishop’s Fund: Together in Faith
Thirty-two years of forming lay ministers

Sept. 7, 2022

By Cathy Russell
Director of Faith Formation

For the past 32 years, thanks in large part to the generosity of donors to the annual Bishop’s Fund Appeal, lay men and women have stepped up to be trained as commissioned lay ministers through the Formation For Ministry program. Since its inception in 1990, over 1,000 north country men and women have been sent out from the program. The current class will be commissioned by Bishop LaValley in June 2023.

The two-year program has evolved to meet the changing needs of parishes and those who seek to serve. Yet, the commitment of the program to provide an excellent foundation for lay ministry has not changed. The success of the program hinges on the individual working with the pastor to match the needs of the parish and the candidate. Through a partnership with Boston College’s Crossroads program, candidates take classes online. The classes include Old and New Testament, Creed, Sacraments, Spirituality, Morality, Catholic Social Teaching, Church History and the Eucharist.

During year one, candidates participate in two in person workshops: “Vision of Lay Ministry” and “Recognizing Gifts.” There is a day of reflection at the end of the first year. This day is an opportunity to take the time to integrate what they have learned into their own spiritual lives. During the second year, candidates choose a ministry area from liturgical, youth, faith formation, sick and elderly and parish outreach. They then attend four all day in person workshops to sharpen skills in their area of choice. The second year ends with a weekend retreat and the commissioning by the bishop.

After commissioning, all lay ministers are strongly encouraged to deepen their spiritual lives and their pastoral ministry skills through participation with their regional Commissioned Lay Ministry Association and continuing education opportunities.

Tuition and other expenses for the program are kept reasonable for parishes and candidates because of the generosity of the annual Bishop’s Fund Appeal. More information on the program can be found on the diocesan website (rcdony.org/formation) under Office of Formation for Ministry or by contacting the director, Cathy Russell, crussell@rcdony.org.


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