Graduates of the Lay Formation program in Saskatoon were recently sent forth in two missioning ceremonies: one for participants from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy and another for those from the Roman Catholic Diocese. Diocesan graduates were anointed and sent forth by diocesan administrator Rev. Kevin McGee (centre) in a celebration at St. Paul Co-Cathedral. (Photo by Kiply Yaworski)
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 900 participants have graduated from the program since it started in 1987.
Participants in three streams of Lay Formation now journey through the program: a diocesan Latin-rite stream, an eparchial Byzantine-rite steam and an Aboriginal Catholic stream. The groups spend time together in formation, in prayer and as a community, as well as gathering in their individual “streams,” focusing on their own traditions and spirituality.
Seventeen eparchial graduates were sent forth June 3 at a celebration held at Ss. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church. The next day, nine diocesan Lay Formation.
Others special guests at the diocesan celebration included family members, parishioners and Lay Formation alumni, as well as Rev. Pius Schroh, pastor of St. Paul’s, Rev. Nestor Gregoire, pastor of St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier parishes, Rev. Marvin Lishchynsky, diocesan Judicial Vicar and pastor of St. John Bosco parish, and Rev. Deyre Azcuna, associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Family. Music ministry was provided by St. Anne’s Parish choir under the direction of Michael Wesselingh.
Co-ordinator Mona Goodman welcomed those gathered for the diocesan missioning June 4 by acknowledging Treaty 6 territory and the ancestral homeland of the Métis people, saying “Our relationship as treaty people has brought many cultures together here today.”
The diocesan missioning included prayer in the four directions at the Great Amen and gathering the collection in a traditional star blanket — with gifts going to the Steve Ballantyne Bursary Fund to assist Aboriginal participants with costs that might otherwise prohibit participation in the Lay Formation program.
“As 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. Such a mission requires ongoing formation and renewal,” said Goodman.
“Over the past two years these members of our church have diligently and conscientiously deepened their knowledge of our faith and intensified their spiritual lives through the lay formation process. Today they ask the Lord’s blessing, they ask to be renewed in the spirit as you send them forth to proclaim the good news to serve and to worship in spirit and in truth.”
After the renewal of their baptismal promises and the affirmation of the assembly, each diocesan candidate was anointed by McGee as a sign of being sent forth into the community to continue their journey as disciples of Christ.
The feast of Pentecost was an appropriate day for the missioning, with McGee exploring in his homily the new beginning experienced by the disciples who encountered the Holy Spirit in the upper room.
“The gift of the Holy Spirit brings the reality of Jesus Christ into the lives of the disciples,” McGee described. “The Holy Spirit in a very real way makes Jesus complete in his ministry and mission. So we hear about men and women who were once hiding and hesitant now leap from their hiding place to bring the good news of the risen Lord to people of all languages and culture.”
The Holy Spirit brings a diversity of gifts that are shared by all within the Body of Christ, he added. “Over the past two years those of you who have been in Lay Formation have been exploring gifts, bringing them to a greater purpose in terms of their service to the Body of Christ.”
The Holy Spirit acts as a lens through which the disciples see for the first time and with perfect clarity who Jesus is, he added. “The Holy Spirit gives us fresh perspective and new meaning.”
Ultimately, Christians are people who are sent on a mission, McGee noted. “Over the past two years you have left your upper rooms and gone on a journey to encounter Jesus again and again, to go out and be met by him and transformed by him.”
He encouraged the graduates to go forth to be “the living fire of Jesus Christ, proclaiming his love and mercy. Continue to be the fire of God’s love in this world.”
The 2017 graduates of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy are Dodie Abrametz, Jennifer Clerke, Mary Shewaga and Theresa Skomar of Dormition of the Blessed Mother Parish, Saskatoon; Carmen Bartko, Nadya Berezowski, Bruce Berezowski, Fritz Friedrich, Patricia McCoshen, Yurij Popowych, Gloria Pryma, and Sister Gerogia Schavij of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Saskatoon; Veronica Chelack, Curtis Hiebert, Tamara Hrechuch and Marissa Owchar of St. George Cathedral, Saskatoon; and Lori Keller of St. George Parish, Melville.
This year’s diocesan graduates are all from Saskatoon: Annette Bley of St. John Bosco Parish; John Lyrette of St. Patrick Parish; Eileen MacKenzie of St. Francis Xavier Parish; Maria Luisa Mendoza O’Sullivan and Katelyn Peterson of Holy Spirit Parish; Cecilia Mui of St. Joseph Parish; Marjorie Stevens of the Cathedral of the Holy Family; and Chong Wong and Maylane Wong of St. Paul Co-Cathedral.
The Lay Formation program team includes leadership from both the diocese and the eparchy — staff as well as volunteers. Team members include Mona Goodman, Sister Bonnie Komarnicki, SSMI, Sister Marijka Konderewicz, SSMI, Joanne Kzyzyk, Wayne Kzyzyk, Henry Spilchuk, and Bob Friesen.
Applications are now being taken for all three streams of Lay Formation, with sessions beginning in September. For information see: www.saskatoonrcdiocese.com/layformation or call (306) 659-5846.