‘Be what God calls us to be,’
bishop tells lay ministers

Having completed the diocese’s Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute, Donna Keeley, coordinator of elementary faith formation at Our Lady of Nazareth, Roanoke, was one of 11 women Bishop Barry C. Knestout commissioned as a lay ecclesial minister during Mass Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. To her right is her husband, Dan. (Photo/Vy Barto)

Commissions 11 LEMI participants


In commissioning 11 women as lay ecclesial ministers, Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond, Bishop Barry C. Knestout encouraged them to continue “with determination on that same journey of growth and self-knowledge” they had undertaken in participating in the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute.

“Recommit to make use of all that you have received in this LEMI formation program, and recommit to bring this gift of faith to those you encounter in your parishes and in circumstances you encounter in the Church,” he said during the homily.

The bishop told the commissioned, which included volunteers, a middle school teacher, parish business manager, a catechist and coordinators of various parish ministries, that while they know their temperament, personality and abilities well, God knows them even better.

“He knows our abilities and our experiences, he knows how best to put those experiences and abilities at the service of the Gospel to further the mission of the Church,” he said. “It takes time for us, any of us, as we mature, to become more selfaware to hopefully become more fruitful and furthering the mission of the Church and living out our vocation and carrying out what God calls us to do and be.”

Bishop Knestout noted that the ministers will get to know themselves better by confronting the sorrows, challenges and difficulties they encounter.

“We experience events in our lives that have to do with our souls and spiritual life. We experience other occasions where it stretches our mind and intellectual life, other occasions that affect our emotions, actions and habits and our physical life, and we all encounter one another in our communal lives or social life and in pastoral interaction,” he said.

Calling their LEMI formation an “opportunity and blessing,” Bishop Knestout said that as a result of it they were “stretched” in intellectual, spiritual, personal and pastoral life. He noted the emphasis on Christ’s humility in St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and told the ministers imaging that humility would help them in their service to God and others.

“When we do this as our first spiritual goal — to live as disciples in love of God and neighbor, we always find that God blesses us personally,” the bishop said. “We are blessed with a deeper growth and greater self-knowledge as well.”

Following the Mass, Bridgett M. Passauer, a volunteer at Church of the Ascension, Virginia Beach, and one of the 11 commissioned, addressed Bernadette Harris, director of LEMI and associate director in the diocese’s Office of Christian Formation.

Those commissioned as lay ecclesial ministers on Saturday, Oct. 24, stand with Bishop Barry C. Knestout as their classmate, Bridgett Passauer, right, pays tribute to the work done by Bernadette Harris (black dress) for her work as director of the diocese’s Lay Ecclesial Ministry Program. (Photo/Vy Barto)

Directing Harris to look at a flower arrangement in the sanctuary, Passauer said, “LEMI has been here for 10 years. Everyone’s journey in the institute has been as unique as each one of those flowers in the vase.”

Noting various elements of the program, i.e., four-year master’s degrees, certificates, online and in-person courses, commissioning Masses, retreats, Passauer continued, “Everyone has one thing that has held them together, and that’s you. On behalf of all people who have come through LEMI, we thank you for everything you do. We are here because of what you are willing to do to ensure that we get here. We hope we can support you in the next 10 years.”

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