SASKATOON — Deepening a relationship with God through the Aboriginal Lay Formation program changed Marlene Hansen’s life. As the new co-ordinator of the program, that transformation is something she shares with and encourages in others.
“The more you get to know God, the more you get to know about love,” says Hansen, a parishioner at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Buffalo Narrows, Sask.
Encouraged by a colleague, Hansen first experienced the Aboriginal Lay Formation program as a participant in 2012 - 2014. She also took the spiritual direction program offered at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal in Saskatoon.
“I wouldn’t say life is easy, but the more I got to know God the easier it became to deal with, knowing God and having God in my life to lean on, through the difficult times.”
Hansen, who works in the area of mental health and addictions for the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority in northwestern Saskatchewan, is presently leading nine participants in the Aboriginal Lay Formation program, held one weekend at month at Queen’s House.
Jointly offered by the dioceses of Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Keewatin-Le Pas, Aboriginal Lay Formation is held in conjunction with a Ukrainian Catholic eparchial stream and a Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon stream of Lay Formation. Participants in each stream are together for some sessions and apart for others. All three streams offer an opportunity to deepen one’s faith and relationship with God through prayer, learning, and Christian community.
Taking Aboriginal Lay Formation was the best thing she could have done, asserts Hansen.
“It was really about finding out about my relationship with God, how does God work in my life, was God in my life, where is God? Because I always thought God was ‘out there,’ I didn’t know God was in here,” she says, pointing to her heart.
“It’s just easier to live now, and it makes life more beautiful,” Hansen adds, noting that Lay Formation has brought healing, and helped her to see God at work even during difficulties and in darkness.
The spiritual enrichment Lay Formation offered has also permitted her to reach out to others, to confidently share faith, to assist in her parish, and now to accompany the nine participants in this year’s program. The content of the program, the prayer, the learning, and the connections built among traditions have a powerful effect on people’s lives, says Hansen. “They are able to take it back to their communities.”
Lay Formation is about trusting God and being open to listening to God, she says. “If we open our hearts to it, our lives will make a difference in helping others. And I believe that is why we are here.”