SASKATOON — Graduates of a two-year Lay Formation program were recently sent forth in two missioning ceremonies: one for participants from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon and another for those from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.
The purpose of the Lay Formation program is to help adult Catholics fulfil their baptismal commitment to the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, through a process of formation and faith education.
The program emphasizes spiritual growth and personal transformation, as participants deepen their relationship with God, expand their prayer life, learn more about the Catholic faith and experience Christian community during a live-in experience held at Queen’s House of Retreats one weekend a month, from September to June, over two years. Some 850 participants have graduated from the program since it started in 1987.
Thirteen eparchial graduates from across the province were sent forth June 6 by Bishop Bryan Bayda, CSsR. Sister Bonnie Komarnicki, SSMI, introduced the graduates at the missioning celebration held at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Saskatoon.
“Today we celebrate a great blessing. For the past two years our eparchial participants have been immersed in the study and the experience of the richness of our liturgy, theology, spirituality, prayer and tradition,” Komarnicki said.
“It has been a special gift as both diocesan and eparchial churches have journeyed together in study, prayer and community, giving mutual respect and appreciation for the dignity of the spiritual treasures of each other’s gifts.”
In his homily, Bayda reflected on the meaning of mission. “What does it mean to be sent on a mission or to be invited to be a missionary?” he asked. “We think about that event as a decisive moment. It is a continual one at the same time. Every day God calls me, every day I am sent.”
Giving time, extending forgiveness, and sharing mercy moment by moment is how Christianity is lived and shared, Bayda said. At the heart of the Christian mission is the experience of being called and being transformed into the Body of Christ, he challenged.
The next day, Bishop Don Bolen sent forth 16 graduates from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon in a missioning celebration on the Feast of Corpus Christi June 7 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family.
He was joined at the altar by Bayda, Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, vicar-general Rev. Kevin McGee, and other priests of the diocese.
The diocesan celebration included turning to the four directions during the Great Amen, and taking the collection in a Star Blanket, with proceeds going to the Steven Ballantyne Bursary Fund to assist Aboriginal Catholic Lay Formation participants to attend the program.
In both the eparchial and the diocesan celebration, participants renewed their baptismal promises and then were anointed by their bishop.
“Our Christian discipleship is a sharing in the self-giving of Jesus. It is an intimate sharing in the receiving, and — in the depths of our Christian lives — an intimation of what we celebrate in the eucharist,” said Bolen in his homily, pointing to the moment in the eucharistic celebration after the consecration, when the priest takes the bread and breaks the Body of Christ. “This is what Jesus does for us — and our sharing in this is to allow ourselves to be broken in all the tangible ways we are called to love and to serve and forgive.”
Bolen urged the Lay Formation graduates to recognize the broken Body of Christ in the poor and the suffering.
“You are going forth into the world as people who have been fashioned ever more deeply as disciples. We believe that you are going forth with joy, we believe that you are going forth with hearts ready to serve,” said Bolen. “Live deeply, fully and in joy, even in the giving of yourselves, even in being broken for others.”