SASKATOON — Twenty graduates of Lay Formation were recently sent forth by Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen and Keewatin-Le Pas vicar-general Rev. Robert Laroche, OMI, during a missioning celebration June 5 at the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon.
First Nations dancers led the opening procession, which also included smudging, praying in the four directions at the Great Amen, and the use of a star blanket to collect the offering.
Those missioned this year included the 28th diocesan class since the Lay Formation program began in the fall of 1987, and the fourth class of the Aboriginal Catholic Lay Formation program, which was launched in 2007. This year’s Aboriginal Lay Formation program included participants from the dioceses of Saskatoon and Keewatin Le Pas, as well as one from the Archdiocese of Edmonton.
In addition to the diocesan Latin-rite and Aboriginal Catholic programs, there is a Ukrainian Catholic Byzantine-rite stream of Lay Formation: the eparchial group has completed Year 1 and will be missioned after their second year in June 2017.
As of this year, the diocesan stream will no longer have both Year 1 and Year 2 offered at the same time. Rather, there will be a single diocesan class journeying through the two-year program alongside Eparchial and Aboriginal participants. The next opportunity to begin all three streams of the Lay Formation program will be in September 2017.
The three groups journey together for two years in monthly weekend gatherings held at Queen’s House in Saskatoon, in a program designed to help adult Catholics deepen their baptismal commitment to the mission and ministry of Jesus. The Lay Formation program provides faith education and learning, an ongoing focus on prayer, and an experience of Christian community.
“As true servants of Christ we are to be men and women motivated by the spirit of the Gospel. We are called to a life of holiness, prayer and action,” summarized Aboriginal Lay Formation co-ordinator Renske Averyt during the June 5 celebration.
“Such a mission requires ongoing formation and renewal,” added Diocesan Lay Formation co-ordinator Mona Goodman. “During the past two years these members of our church have diligently and conscientiously deepened their knowledge of our faith, and intensified their spiritual lives with the Lay Formation process.”
After the participants from the two streams renewed their baptismal promises, Bolen and Laroche anointed and blessed the graduates, sending them forth “to proclaim the good news, to serve and to worship in spirit and in truth.”
Through baptism, we all share in the mission of Jesus, who is our source of life and of love, said Bolen. “Jesus continually calls us forth to be that same source of life and love to those to whom we minister: whether in the parish community, the workplace or the home, I call upon you to go forth, to extend the mission of Jesus.”
In his homily, Bolen reflected on the readings for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which resonated with the Easter message of the triumph of life over death, “the proclamation of God’s desire to come bringing life.”
The bishop stressed that to participate in the Lay Formation program is to deepen understanding and experience of the Paschal Mystery that is at the heart of Christian faith: the power of life over death revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“You have been equipped for something new. Your faith has been deepened. You are going forth as artisans of reconciliation, as bearers of healing and compassion, people with a deep and abiding sense that God can bring life into any situation — and not only can, but does,” he said.
Bolen pointed to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada and the ongoing call to work for reconciliation and healing in this country — something the Lay Formation program embodies. “In this program, indigenous and non-indigenous Catholics walk deeply together, and you are a visible sign of reconciliation, of a new way of walking together,” the bishop said, calling on participants to continue to be “artisans of reconciliation.”