By Celine Klosterman
Parish life in congregations at Riverside, Richmond and Wellman has “absolutely” grown since parishioners began taking courses in the Davenport Diocese’s Ministry Formation Program (MFP), said Father Rich Adam, pastor of those towns’ parishes.
Most recently, Jane Duwa and Sandy Marner, members of Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond, approached him about using what they’d learned in MFP to enhance their parish’s faith formation program. Fr. Adam said that because of their initiative, Holy Trinity will hold classes next spring for parents of first Communion students in addition to classes for the children. Parents will likely play a larger role in next year’s program for confirmation students, too, he said.
“I just really have seen the fruits of what parishioners have learned in the classes come alive in the parish, both through their own involvement and getting others involved,” he said. “They have a keen insight into what the church is all about; they understand the liturgical calendar and the church’s history and tradition. It makes our faith so much more real … to have people who understand well what’s going on.”
Fr. Adam estimated that seven to 10 local parishioners have gone through MFP.
As did Marner and Duwa, Peggy Bush of St. Mary Parish in Riverside made use of information gleaned in MFP. After learning about SHARE Iowa, a food distribution and volunteer program, through a video for a class, she coordinated the first SHARE Iowa distribution effort for St. Mary’s, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph’s in Wellman in October 2005. Though she handed over her role as coordinator to Sue Hansen three years later, the still-active program now provides 50-60 food packages to participants monthly.
Bush said MFP also fueled her passion for supporting families in the faith. Thus, two years ago she and other parishioners started offering a children’s Liturgy of the Word during Sunday Mass. And she said a first Eucharist retreat for children and parents has become a tradition in the Riverside, Richmond and Wellman parishes.
“I’ve felt more confident in my ability to try new ministries,” Bush said.
Likewise, Laura Fugate, pastoral minister for the three parishes, said she’s become more involved in parish life since enrolling in MFP’s basic program and catechetical and parish life administrator tracks. Before taking her current position, she first became a lector, then music liturgist and extraordinary minister of holy Communion.
MFP has helped her make contacts with ordained and lay ministers in the diocese, she said. And the program “has deepened my knowledge of the Catholic faith, enabling me to better share my faith with others.”
Betty Kaalberg, a St. Mary parishioner who converted to Catholicism after marrying a Catholic, shared similar sentiment. “I can honestly say that not until I took part in the MFP program did I really get into my faith… It just made me want to learn more and more and get involved.”
“I wish that more people realized what a great tool we have available to learn, understand, live, enjoy and defend our faith.”
Classes begin Sept. 12 for MFP basic year one, and Sept. 19 for the catechetical specialization. Application forms are available at www.davenportdiocese.org: Under the Offices tab, click Faith Formation, then Lay Ministry.
For more information, contact IlaMae Hanisch, MFP coordinator, at (641) 791-3435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.