Home Diocesan News Hundreds hear call to be ‘missionary disciples’ at diocesan Ministry Day
Hundreds hear call to be ‘missionary disciples’ at diocesan Ministry Day Print E-mail
Written by Ann-Margaret Lambo, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 03 November 2017 14:29

LOUISVILLE – At the recent diocesan Ministry Day, there was singing and dancing and lots of praising God – and that was just the keynote address. 

Keynoter ValLimar Jansen opened the day-long event, “Embracing Our Call,” held Oct. 15 at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Middle School here.  About 450 participants from across the diocese attended the biennial event to deepen their faith, increase their knowledge and develop relationships with other believers.

A highly-regarded singer, composer and recording artist as well as an experienced college professor, a leader of worship and prayer and a workshop presenter at conferences, both domestically and internationally, Jansen spoke on “Making Present the Kingdom of God.”   Jansen received most of her music training from Howard University in Washington. She holds professional degrees in the arts from California State University and the University of California.

The speaker addressed a few basic questions as she focused on missionary discipleship, including: What does it mean to be a missionary disciple in today’s society? How do we respond to contemporary culture to be fully present to the experience? What is the place of prayer in the life of a missionary disciple? And how does prayer allow us to encounter Christ more deeply?

Jansen’s talk blended inspiration, prayer, music and biblical storytelling, in a kind of old-fashioned revival style. When she was singing, dancing, and praying, she seemed to expect her audience to be up along with her, singing, dancing and praying – and they obliged her.

Jansen listed four stages toward discipleship that she believes all Christians should follow. The first stage is encountering Jesus. The second is accompanying Jesus. The third stage is to remain in Him. The fourth is to “go forth, therefore and make disciples of all nations.”

These stages, Jansen suggested, invite believers to a gradual and continual process of conversion for a deeper relationship with God. The stages are “an invitation to sustain one’s faith through ongoing catechesis and lifelong learning.”

“We are accompanying each other on the journey,” Jansen said to the group. “Responding in faith means growing closer to Jesus. Growing closer to Jesus brings us into a deeper relationship with the body of Christ.

“Who is the body of Christ? We are. Growing closer to Jesus brings us into a deeper communion with the Church, for communion and discipleship are intrinsically linked.

“We are to go out and make disciples and we do that by being a friend, yes?” Jansen asked. “By making a friend, being a friend, we bring that person closer to God. I give glory and praise to God with my words and actions.”

Msg. John Zuraw, diocesan chancellor, noted that attendance at Ministry Day is completely voluntary for those involved in Church life – and anyone interested in such. He voiced hope that participants’ take-away would be related to two experiences.

“The first is through the keynote,” Msgr. Zuraw said. “What does it mean to make disciples? Many of these individuals are directors of religious education, CCD teachers, school teachers. Part of their responsibility is to bring forth the message to that new generation.”

“The second is through the workshops,” he continued. “There are over 60 workshops that are going on through the day. The beauty of these workshops is that whatever participants are interested in, or whatever can enhance their ministry, that’s going to be the selling point of how successful this day was. What can they take and apply to their individual ministries?”

The Ministry Day program “gives me an enthusiasm that we can face tomorrow,” Msgr. Zuraw said. “There are so many troubles in today’s world, but there is good. Leaving that keynote session [reminded me] there’s a lot of good to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. It outweighs the bad that is in the world.”

Like many others involved in youth ministry, Angie Moultan of Rootstown St. Peter of the Fields Parish, attended the ministry day on a quest for ideas about how she can get more of the parish’s young people involved in parish events.

“We have been trying to figure out how to get … the youth ministry to grow at St. Peter,” Moultan explained. “I think keeping our youth involved is a universal problem in the Church. I think if we can find people like today’s keynote speaker to talk to our kids and motivate them, that would be awesome.”

Several of the Ministry Day workshops dealt with youth ministry. A sampling of the other topics included evangelization; vocations; volunteers; helping young adults respond to their call to discipleship; ministering to families amidst the loss of a child; building parish communities; Catholic social teaching; Catholic Charities’ programs; liturgical ministry; Hispanic ministry; art in faith formation; teaching religion through electronic games; helping victims of abuse; marriage preparation; ministry to the divorced; music and the Mass; mission in the inner city; praying the rosary with contemporary relevance; retreats for children; ministry to those who have had abortions; family faith days; ministry to those with special needs; and reconciling faith and science.

Ministry Day is co-sponsored by the diocesan Central Offices.


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