26 lay ministers commissioned|10 are the first Spanish-language MFP graduates

Lay ministers were commissioned during Mass at St. Patrick Church in Iowa City Oct. 1. The class includes the first Spanish-lanuage Ministry Formation Program graduates. Also pictured are IlaMae Hanisch, MFP coordinator, front right, and Bishop Martin Amos.

By Celine Klosterman

IOWA CITY — While enrolled in the Diocese of Davenport’s first Spanish-language Ministry Formation Program the past two years, Pablo Peña shared at weekly charismatic prayer group meetings what he was learning.

“When people ask questions about our faith, I can give them the answer,” he told The Catholic Messenger through an interpreter. A eucharistic minister and catechist at St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction, he said he’s grateful for the program that educates lay ecclesial ministers because it helps him to better follow Jesus.

Bishop Martin Amos celebrated a bilingual Mass of commissioning for Peña and 25 other MFP graduates, including 10 Spanish-language students, during an Oct. 1 retreat at St. Patrick Church. Eight priests from throughout the diocese concelebrated.


In his homily, the bishop told the candidates he hoped their commissioning represented a spiritual step. But “it is not the last step you need to take.”

“You do not all have the same interests or the same talents,” he said. “But you all have the same mission.” Journeying in community, “we must stay united to the vine and be pruned to bear more fruit, remaining in Jesus and his words remaining in us.”

IlaMae Hanisch, MFP coordinator, said that by virtue of their baptism, the candidates had been called to share in Christ’s mission. “The Eucharist sustains them, and the gifts bestowed on them in confirmation have equipped them for their special tasks within the Church.”

Bishop Amos then called forth and blessed graduates of MFP’s basic two-year program, and the liturgical specialization and pastoral associate specialization programs.

“Lord, guide their steps with your mighty arm and with the power of your grace strengthen them in spirit, so that they will not falter through weariness,” the bishop prayed. “Make their words the echo of Christ’s voice, so that those who hear them may be drawn to obey the Gospel.”

As volunteers at St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty, graduates José and Maria Durán have worked to share the Gospel with sick Catholics and struggling families whom they visit to pray with. MFP has helped the spouses to better carry out their ministry and given them more confidence, they said.

Happy to have graduated MFP, Marcos NaJarro said he’s grown in faith and wisdom. “I feel more motivated to serve my parish when I can,” said the eucharistic minister and member of a charismatic prayer group at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa.

“When the bishop talked about ‘steps’ in his homily, I couldn’t help but recognize that as a Church we are beginning to take steps to commission those who speak a different language,” Hanisch said. “We have now finally commissioned Spanish-speaking lay ecclesial ministers!”

Numerous Catholics have taken on larger leadership roles in their parishes since enrolling in MFP, Hanisch said. “All of those who were commissioned make up an exceptional group of Catholics.”

Catholics who recently completed the Ministry Formation Program

Parish Life Administrator/Pastoral Associate

Katherine Brack, Oxford-St. Mary

Tammy Norcross, Newton-Sacred Heart

Marybeth Wagner, formerly Newton-Sacred Heart, now in the Archdiocese of Dubuque

Liturgical Specialization

Jane Kamerick, Melrose-St. Patrick

Basic Two-Year MFP:

Robin Brierly, Colfax-Immaculate Conception

Refugio Ceniceros, Muscatine-Ss. Mary & Mathias

Mark Comer, DeWitt-St. Joseph

James Connell, Clinton-Prince of Peace

Donna DeJoode, Pella-St. Mary

Mario DeLeon, Ottumwa-St. Mary

José Durán, West Liberty-St. Joseph

Maria Durán, West Liberty-St. Joseph

Angela Gritsch, Brooklyn-St. Patrick

Tracey Jacobsen, Davenport-St. Paul the Apostle

Karl Lantzky, Davenport-St. Paul the Apostle

Margarita Marquez, Ottumwa-St. Mary

Ann Mohr, Long Grove-St. Ann

Marcos NaJarro, Ottumwa-St. Mary

Pablo Peña, Columbus Junction-St. Joseph

Alicia Rivas, Muscatine-Ss. Mary & Mathias

Francisco Rivas, Muscatine-Ss. Mary & Mathias

Joseph Rohret, Cosgrove- St. Peter

David Roling, Charlotte-Assumption/St. Patrick

Karol Salgado, Ottumwa-St. Mary

Lowell Van Wyk, Pella-St. Mary

Rhonda Versluys, Pella-St. Mary

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