New Program Launched in the Edmonton Eparchy
I specifically mention “Lay Leadership” and “Diaconate” together in the same breath. This is intentional, as I see them as one and the same program, albeit with some formation particular to one path as opposed to the other.
The intention of this initiative is simple: to foster “active disciples” whereby the faithful – laity, consecrated, monastic, and clergy alike – use their God-given gifts and talents to build up the Kingdom of God as active participants, not just spectators, both in their own faith journey as well as in the life of the Church.
Led by the Holy Spirit, the launch of the Lay Leadership and Diaconal Formation Program marks our next steps taken on our path toward the implementation of our 25 Year Eparchial Pastoral Plan and our “Vibrant Parish” worldwide spiritual renewal initiatives.
All too often, we forget that many of society’s institutions were established as a result of the Church responding to particular societal needs throughout history. Hospitals, schools, universities, social services, food banks, etc. owe their beginning in large part to the Church’s response in providing care for those in need. Only much later does civil society and the government become involved in the activity and oversight of these ministries.
In this light, it is fair to ask: What are the societal needs that require further attention by the Church today? What new emerging ministries might a lay leadership and diaconal program form and support? Eldercare and support, the sick and shut-ins, palliative care, Holy Communion, family and life ministry, sacramental preparation and post-sacramental care, catechists, volunteers, and active disciples are all important aspects of how we respond as a church.
Understandably, in order to be successful in these ministries, lay leaders and deacons must be properly trained and formed. To set them up for success, we must provide them with solid spiritual and integrated Christian formation, thereby fostering fruitful ministry and service to the Church. However, not everyone will require the same degree of training and formation.
Lay leaders will benefit from a two-year program of study and formation, comprised of bi-monthly weekend instruction while following a Certificate in Catholic Studies (12 courses, 5 weeks in length each) at Newman Theological College. The first year will be dedicated to an introduction to the Sacred Scriptures, theology, liturgy and spirituality. The second year will focus more specifically on the given area of ministry in which the lay leader is planning to serve within the parish.
Lay leadership and the diaconate are not at all new to the Church. However, a collective effort on the part of the bishop and the faithful of the Eparchy of Edmonton to foster a lay leadership and diaconate formation program is.
Like all the faithful, lay leaders and deacons are the face of Christ, not only for those whom they serve in their parishes, but also for their families, neighbours, co-workers, friends and strangers, alike.
Together, as the entire Body of Christ, we can inspire and transform the world, one day at a time, through active engagement with one another in faith and in service to God and the Church!
May God bless our Lay Leadership and Diaconate Formation Program.