By Kiply Lukan Yaworski
[Catholic Saskatoon News] – After two years of faith enrichment and spiritual growth, participants in three streams of Lay Formation were sent forth in missioning celebrations held June 1 in Saskatoon.
“Lay Formation has been beautiful; it has been awesome…. we had an opportunity to learn some academic things, we have a better understanding of the Bible…. we had an opportunity for spiritual growth…. I would also say one of the key characteristics was the presenters: the presenters were well prepared, very knowledgeable and very sincere in what they were doing.” – Gerald Baron, 2019 Lay Formation graduate, St. Augustine, Humboldt
The missioning of the graduates of the Diocesan and Indigenous Catholic streams was part of a Saturday morning celebration of the Eucharist in the chapel at Queen’s House of Retreat and Renewal, where the Lay Formation program is held one weekend a month from September to June over two years. Graduates of the Eparchial Lay Formation stream were recognized at a Divine Liturgy held later that same day at Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Saskatoon.
“Lay Formation has been a life changing experience in the journey of faith. We have drawn closer to God through community and fellowship, we have learned how to pray and how to minister to other people in our community, in the world around us.” – Michelle LaBrash, 2019 Lay Formation graduate, St. Mary, Saskatoon.
Four bishops concelebrated the missioning Mass at Queen’s House, along with parish priests of several of the diocesan graduates: Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of the Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas, Bishop Albert Thévenot of the Diocese of Prince Albert, and Bishop Emeritus Gerald Wiesner, OMI, who helped to establish the program in Saskatoon some 32 years ago.. Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon was also present at the start of the Queen’s House celebration (before leaving to meet another commitment.)
“We are to be men and women motivated by the spirit of the Gospel, we are called to a life of holiness and prayer,” the graduates heard as they were called forth to renew their baptismal promises, before being presented with a rose by their particular bishop.
“Over the past few years these members of our church have diligently and conscientiously deepened their knowledge of our faith and intensified their spiritual lives through the Lay Formation program,” summarized team member Wayne Kzyzyk.
“I came to Lay Formation to feed my brain, to learn. But really, I fed my heart so much more.” – Sandra Richter, 2019 Lay Formation Graduate, St. Anne, Saskatoon
“I hope the great Holy Spirit is enlivening you as we come to this point today of transition: it is a benchmark to celebrate the end of a journey and the beginning of a new one,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen, reflecting in his homily about Ascension Sunday in which we celebrate Jesus going to the Father. “What it means is that God’s life comes to us in a new way through the power of the Holy Spirit, and so God is alive and well today in the power of the Holy Spirit. On this day you will be blessed and anointed to go deeper and higher in your life of reception and giving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because God has called you here, and God sends you forward,” said the bishop.
“God calls us to hold up a vision that is going to affect this world, but is not of this world,” he added.
“We need each other, as bishops and pastors we need the people of God to receive the fullness of God’s gifts, in order to proclaim the Good News and the blessing of God’s presence and life in the world today, now. You will be – and are – the person of Jesus in your families, in your communities, in your work places, in your churches — wherever God calls and sends you.”
Bishop Hagemoen spoke about the baptismal call to share in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and servant king, and acknowledged that Lay Formation is prophetic in and of itself, as it embodies Canada’s “very important, wonderful and difficult” journey of Truth and Reconciliation by incorporating an Indigenous stream with Diocesan and Eparchial streams of formation. “To be able to gather as people in the shared vision of Christ’s call to us, to be a people of different places, parts of the land, different parts of this area of our world — and to bring to bear our culture, our identity, our family and our personal gifts on the call of the Gospel and to bring light and healing today — that is so important.”
He urged graduates to continue their ongoing journey of conversion and healing in the days, weeks and years ahead. “As we heal, we help others to heal. May God bless us on the healing journey … as we go more deeply into what it means to be a healing people… let us continue to journey and heal together, wherever we are called to serve.”
“Lay Formation is a good way to get close to God, and it is a good way to learn about yourself, to understand yourself, and to grow. If you are looking for something to grow spiritually, come to Lay Formation!” – Lisa Jane Nateweyes, 2019 Lay Formation graduate, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Sandy Bay
2019 Lay Formation Graduates include:
Archdiocese of Keewatin-Le Pas:
- Bertha Derocher, Saint Mary Magdalene, Beauval
- Gladys Janvier, Our Lady of the Visitation, La Loche
- James Janvier, Our Lady of the Visitation, La Loche
- Lisa Jane Nateweyes, Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Sandy Bay
- Dorilda Piche, Our Lady of the Visitation, La Loche
- Arlene Ray, Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, Sandy Bay
Diocese of Saskatoon:
- Janice Blatz, Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Christine Baron, St. Augustine, Humboldt
- Gerald Baron, St. Augustine, Humboldt
- Blair Carruthers, Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Jennifer Carruthers, Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Patrick Daley, Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Alice Denis-Daley, Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Thomas Fortosky, Holy Family Cathedral, Saskatoon
- Rodney Klysko, Holy Spirit, Saskatoon
- Michelle LaBrash, St. Mary, Saskatoon
- Caroline Laviolette, St. Anne, Saskatoon
- Sandra Richter, St. Anne, Saskatoon
- David Sanscartier, St. Thomas More, Saskatoon
- Velma Whatley, St. Joseph, Kindersley
Diocese of Prince Albert:
- Gary Bell, Our Lady of Peace, Meadow Lake
- Ron Johnson, St. Agatha, Shellbrook
- William Thibeault, Our Lady of Peace, Meadow Lake
Eparchy of Saskatoon:
- Christine Byblow, Descent of the Holy Ghost, Benito, MB
- Kathy Kalyn, St. Nicholas, Uhrynow, SK
- John Kindrachuck, Ss. Peter and Paul, Speers, SK
- Melissa Korol, Ss. Peter and Paul, Saskatoon
- Irene Stakiw, Ss. Peter and Paul, Saskatoon
- Joanne Wandzura, Ss. Peter and Paul, Saskatoon
- Walter Wandzura, Ss. Peter and Paul, Saskatoon
The Saskatoon Diocesan Lay Formation program was launched in the fall of 1987 as a way to fulfill Pope John Paul II’s request that the formation of lay people in their Catholic faith should be among the priorities of every diocese.
The purpose of the program has been to help adult Catholics fulfill their baptismal commitment to the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, through a process of faith education, spiritual formation, prayer and Christian community.
A shared formation experience with the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon started in 1999. As Latin-rite and Byzantine-rite Catholics journeyed together, shared Eastern and Western perspectives were woven into the program, in addition to presentations and experiences that are specific to the respective rites — with the unique program fulfilling Pope John Paul II’s desire that the Catholic Church would breathe with “both lungs” of the Eastern and Western faith traditions.
In 2004, a dialogue group was created to explore how to make the Lay Formation program more welcoming and sensitive to Indigenous Catholics who were coming to participate in the diocesan program. An Indigenous Lay Formation program grew out of the discussions, with an Aboriginal/Indigenous stream starting in the fall of 2007. The shared program of the diocese of Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Keewatin-Le Pas offered Indigenous, First Nations and Métis Catholics an opportunity to deepen their faith within their own cultural and spiritual framework.
Presentations on core Catholic teachings bring together the three streams as participants deepen their faith and their understanding and experience of God. Learning about Eastern and Western traditions, and an introduction to Indigenous spirituality and culture enhance mutual understanding among participants in all three streams.
Smudging, bringing forward gifts to place in a star blanket, and praying the Great Amen in four directions were among the traditions included as part of the Missioning Celebration for the Diocesan and Indigenous stream graduates.
Lay Formation Program team members include Blair and Jennifer Caruthers, Marlene Hanson, Sr. Bonnie Komarnicki, SSMI, Sr. Marjika Konderewicz, SSMI, Wayne and Joanne Kzyzyk, and Henry Spilchuk.
(Lay Formation is one of the many ministries supported by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.)