The diocesan Pastoral Institute commissioned 55 new lay minsters representing 33 parishes on May 16 at a Mass and bilingual ceremony in the chapel at the Immaculate Conception Pastoral Center, Douglaston.
The new lay leaders join nearly 700 lay ministers in the diocese who have successfully completed the three-year program of study, in existence since 2001 and offered in English and Spanish.
The ministers attended class once a week for two hours at one of four locations: Holy Family-St. Thomas Aquinas, Park Slope; St. Sebastian, Woodside; St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights; and the Immaculate Conception Pastoral Center.
“I feel like I’ve been re-evangelized,” said Cathy Femia of Queen of Angels parish, Sunnnyside. “I was excited to begin, and it was a sweet ending.”
Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez celebrated the Mass and preached his homily in English and Spanish. He spoke of the sacrifice each lay minister had made to the Church and the diocese.
“The pastors and associate pastors are stretched; they have a lot to do already,” Bishop Sanchez said. “There are so many things in the parish that priests are no longer able to do. I think the lay ministers make a tremendous contribution.”
The program includes spiritual reflection, mentoring and pastoral preparation. Many of the ministers have full-time jobs and families, so the bishop recognized their dedication to the process.
“I am totally in awe of the commitment that these lay leaders make for the three years,” said Gerald Tortorella, director of the Pastoral Institute. “It’s not easy juggling family, work and their ministry.”
The ministers take theology courses, attend workshops and engage in some sort of ministry project as part of the program. They also take part in days of reflection once per semester.
“We reflected a lot on what it means to be a leader and what it means to be a servant like Jesus was,” said Diana Miller from Our Lady of Light, St. Albans.
The new ministers have been prepared to coordinate new and existing parish programs. The purpose was to broaden their theological knowledge base, deepen their spirituality and enhance their skills as servants to others.
“It was a life-changing experience,” said Ana T. Maldonado from St. Mark’s, Sheepshead Bay, who developed Seton Society, a women’s fellowship group at the parish that applies religious teachings to everyday life, as her ministry project.
“There were times when it was very overwhelming, but looking back, I would have done it all over again. I would recommend it to anyone,” Maldonado said.
After Mass, Bishop Sanchez, Tortorella and Sister Angela Gannon, C.S.J., diocesan secretary for Catholic education and formation, presented the new ministers with certificates and pins.
“Formation is never over,” Tortorella said. “It’s an ongoing process, so we encourage them to participate in the alumni activities and further their formation.”
Newly Installed Lay Ministers
Assumption, Brooklyn Heights – Marianne Theresa Bellucci
Blessed Sacrament, Jackson Heights – Dora Bautista
Blessed Trinity, Rockaway Point – Nancy Jean Treffeisen
Holy Family-St. Thomas Aquinas, Park Slope – Hugo A. Gallegos, Rubid M. Gallegos, Vicenta B. Gamba
Holy Trinity, Whitestone – Mary E. Fera
Immaculate Conception, Jamaica – Mireille Leys
Jovenes de Valor /Blessed Sacrament, Jackson Heights – Angelica M. Taveras
Our Lady of Fatima, East Elmhurst – Esmeralda J. Hidalgo, Ivonne F. Peña
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Dyker Heights – Cynthia M. Campusano
Our Lady of Light, St. Albans – Gladys S. Brown, Diana L. Miller
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park – Fabian Otavalo, Adria Ramirez, Arturo Vázquez Díaz
Our Lady of Refuge, Flatbush – Nive Alexandre, Loretta R. Lucas, Nelson Gerardo Tlatelpa
Our Lady of the Angelus, Rego Park – Simab Aziz, Margaret Anne Ofikwu
Our Lady of the Snows, N. Floral Park – Kevin F. Hughes
Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills – Yorke B. Mizelle
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jamaica – Euler Olidio Miranda Miranda, Silvia M. Socop
Queen of Angels, Sunnyside – Arturo Marcelo Carrión, Nalina Christian, Adela Ciriaco, Carmen R. Ciriaco, Reyna Collado, Catherine M. Femia, Liliam Maya García, Ernestina Merino
Resurrection, Gerritsen Beach – James Giorgio
St. Adalbert, Elmhurst – Mary Anne P. Page
St. Agatha, Sunset Park – Maria Jimenez, Domingo David Reyes, Rita M. Reyes, Vilma C. Villatoro
St. Anastasia, Douglaston – Maria E. Acevedo, Yury T. Acevedo, Jesus I. Arroyave
St. Andrew Avellino, Flushing – Karen Vicario
St. Bonaventure-St. Benedict the Moor, Jamaica – Claudette Brathwaite-Brower
St. Brendan, Midwood – Carmina De La Rosa
St. Brigid, Bushwick – Jacqueline Perez
St. Charles Borromeo, Brooklyn Heights – Tracy A. Howard
St. John the Baptist, Bedford-Stuyvesant – Marie Sonia Marcellus
St. Mark, Sheepshead Bay – Ana T. Maldonado
St. Mary Magdalene, Springfield Gardens – Miriam Bettis
St. Mary Mother of Jesus, Bath Beach – Patricia C. Ferrera
St. Mary Star of the Sea and St. Gertrude, Far Rockaway – Rosa I. Miranda
St. Matthias, Ridgewood – Maria M. Chamorro
St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Jamaica – Leybi Lorena Lima