More than 200 community members gathered Tuesday, Dec. 20, to celebrate the awarding of the Theology Department’s Certificate in Lay Ministry to a cohort of 22 students. Archbishop Bernard Hebda, Bishop Andrew Cozzens and St. Thomas President Dr. Julie Sullivan were among the community members who attended the celebration.
The curriculum for the Certificate in Lay Ministry, which has been part of the Theology Department’s offerings for more than a decade, was designed to provide people who are already serving in various ministries in their faith communities with the theological education to support their work. However, this is the first time it was taught in Spanish so that these students could engage the subject matter in their native language. Although a few had advanced degrees from their home countries, for most this was their first opportunity to study at a college in the United States. All of the participants of this cohort are members of Catholic parishes of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and contribute to their church’s ministry to local Hispanic communities.
During the celebration of the Eucharist, the students were awarded their certificates and commissioned for service in their church communities. The theme of the worship was, “Here I am, send me” (Isa 6:8), which was taken from the first reading. It is an “autobiographical” account of Isaiah’s encounter with God in the Jerusalem temple, in which he expresses his profound sense of limitation in the presence of the Divine and yet offers himself in response to God’s request for a spokesperson to the people. The same level of commitment was evident in these Lay Ministry students as they took up the call for service in the local church.