Bishop calls lay ministers to be stewards, evangelizers

Patty Gazewood, Patti Kamper, Paulette Leonard, Andrew McCarthy, Corinne Puzio and Melody Smith listen as Bishop Barry C. Knestout commissions them as lay ministers during Mass, Saturday, June 18, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond. (Photo/Vy Barto)

Bishop Barry C. Knestout commissioned six people during Mass on Saturday, June 18, at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Richmond, who completed academic studies and spiritual formation through the Diocese of Richmond’s Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute (LEMI) program.

The newly commissioned are Patty Gazewood, St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish, Charlottesville; Patti Kamper, St. Michael the Archangel, Glen Allen; Paulette Leonard, St. Anne, Bristol; Andrew McCarthy, St. Edward, Richmond; Corinne Puzio, St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish; and Melody Smith, Prince of Peace, Chesapeake.

During his homily, the bishop, reflecting upon John 12:24-26, spoke about the stewardship that is required of lay ministers.

“The word of God and the teaching of the Church is entrusted to us as stewards,” Bishop Knestout said. “These teachings are not our personal possession, to do with what we will.”

He continued, “We are entrusted with a treasure, the teaching of our faith and spirit of God dwelling within us. We teach and hand on the faith always according to the mind and heart of the Church, to the mind and heart of Christ as guided by the Magisterium of the Church. We are not the owners or determiners of the Gospel; we are its stewards and servants.”

Noting that the Second Vatican Council’s “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity” called upon all people to share in spreading Christ’s kingdom, and that in 2013 Pope Francis termed every Christian a “missionary disciple,” Bishop Knestout highlighted the vocation to which the lay ministers have been called.

“Each of you in this commissioning today is an instrument of this apostolic work — to bring your faith to those around you at work or in your personal life and activities,” the bishop said. “In a unique way, appropriate to and according to your own circumstances of life, you assist in the Church’s work of evangelization.”

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