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Archives Called to ministry?
Formation starting soon

May 10, 2023

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing Writer

We are all called to ministry by our baptism. Whether we are baptized as infants or as adults, we are always in the process of formation. The Church helps us to understand our call to ministry in many ways. The Diocese of Ogdensburg’s Formation for Ministry program offers adults the chance to grow in their faith and use their gifts to help serve ministry in their parishes. The 2023-25 cycle is now taking registrations.

Through a partnership with Boston College, the diocese offers the two-year program online except for in-person workshops and retreats twice a year. The courses explore the core foundations of the Catholic Faith including the Eucharist, the history of the Church, and Catholic social teaching, which opens meaningful discussion amongst program candidates and the instructor.

The current two-year cycle wraps up with 19 candidates being commissioned as lay ministers on Sunday, June 25. Jayme St. Croix is one of those candidates hoping to bring his gifts to youth ministry at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Watertown. He believes an internal push and influences from his past called him to the program.

“I grew up and was gracefully influenced by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of St. Joseph,” he said. “As we all know, their numbers are decreasing, and someone needs to step up and help our Church as they have for so many decades.”

St. Croix remembers his time as a child in youth groups at Sacred Heart, where he and his peers took part in community service projects and youth Masses while also having fun on group trips and at organized dances. Once commissioned, he hopes to establish more activities in the parish for kids to both enjoy and grow in faith. St. Croix, who currently teaches Sunday school, says the program can also give candidates more confidence when talking about their Catholic faith.

“I have really enjoyed this opportunity to not only share my faith but to encourage my students to do the same,” he said. “I would encourage anyone to take advantage of the Formation for Ministry Program as our future needs more leaders and this is a perfect place to start.”

A growing trend in recent years has been more married couples going through Formation for Ministry together. Kitty Samuels of Massena had considered the program for some time, so when she saw the bulletin announcement in the summer of 2021, she knew this was the time. But her husband James was still on the fence despite their pastor encouraging them to go through it together. It was a trip to Colorado that had James thinking more about Formation for Ministry. He asked Kitty to check if it was too late for him to sign up.

“I wanted to know more about the faith and the potential roles I could play in the Church,” he said.

Now nearly two years later, James and Kitty agree that going on this journey together has deepened their respect and admiration for one another. They are hoping to bring more joy and prayer to the Outreach Ministry they already are a part of within St. Peter’s Parish.

“Formation for Ministry has confirmed in me that I need to walk by faith in all I do for others and let God’s love shine through me,” said Kitty.

Ideally, a commissioned lay minister has developed the spiritual life and skills necessary to become more involved in parish life by the end of the program. Formation for Ministry Director Cathy Russell explains that with pastors stretched so thin these days, lay ministers have an opportunity to do and be more in their parish.

“For example, a minister might take communion to shut-ins,” she said. “Instead of just a quick visit, a commissioned lay minister has learned how to talk to shut-ins, how to perhaps follow up with a family member, and pray with the person. This is one way the lay minister takes a little of the work off the pastor’s shoulders.”

Before enrolling, Russell suggests talking with your pastor for guidance on possible ministry opportunities. If your pastor agrees your gifts are needed contact Russell at crussell@rcdony.org or call (315) 393-2920.

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