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home : opinion : perspectives

7/20/2017 9:00:00 AM
Kateri Institute forms parish lay ministers
For more information about the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation, go to the Office of Ministry Formation tab at www.rcda.org or call 518-453-6670.
For more information about the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation, go to the Office of Ministry Formation tab at www.rcda.org or call 518-453-6670.

In 2011, after completing the Albany Diocese's two-year Formation for Ministry Program (FMP) for parish leaders, I had the privilege of joining the staff of the Kateri Institute for Faith Formation.

Like FMP, the three-year Kateri Institute program was created by the Diocese in response to "Coworkers in the Vineyard of the Lord," a resource for guiding the development of lay ministry in the United States. The Kateri Institute is sponsored by the diocesan Office of Lay Ministry Formation with the goal of helping laypeople become better leaders in their parishes.

More and more of these "lay ecclesial ministers" are collaborating with ordained clergy on the parish level. To facilitate this, participants in the Kateri Institute receive a strong theological and spiritual foundation. They study different aspects of the Church and the faith and develop pastoral and managerial skills.

They also deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. Those who are called to leadership in the Church must come to know God as the source of all that is life-giving, for only then can they proclaim the Good News and serve God's people with joy.

These past six years have seen participants embarking on an awe-inspiring and enriching journey. Each session begins and ends with a prayer service, initiated by a participant. It is here that we have the profound sense of how the Holy Spirit is working through us.

All learning is relational. Interaction with others at the Kateri Institute sessions spurs wisdom and understanding. We encourage a communal atmosphere of trust in God and one another that leaves no room for judging, with an honest sharing of ideas and perspectives that challenge us and allow us to explore our faith.

The Kateri Institute introduces participants to many aspects of Catholicism, including Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, Christology, liturgy and Catholic social justice issues. There are dynamic presentations that encourage class participation, lively discussions and a good deal of reading and writing reflection papers that allow participants to deepen their baptismal call.

Each session includes 45 minutes of faith-sharing. A half-dozen participants read a Scripture passage and talk about a phrase or word in the text that speaks to them.

Students at the Kateri Institute work toward one of two certifications: "foundations for ministry" or "leadership for ministry." The foundations for ministry certificate provides "a solid introduction to Scripture, theology and ministry skills, intended for active parishioners to grow in faith and knowledge to better serve their communities," according to the institute's webpage. The leadership for ministry certificate is geared more toward roles like deacon, youth ministry leader or pastoral associate for parish life.

The Kateri Institute addresses the need to prepare men and women for living out the mission of Jesus Christ as disciples.

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