A Crash Course in Formation
As noted in earlier Divinity Digest posts, this year marks the tenth anniversary of Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord in which the American Catholic bishops described the importance of proper formation for those training to be Lay Ecclesial Ministers. In the weeks ahead, we will continue our commemoration of that anniversary with a more detailed and focused treatment of each of the four areas of formation highlighted in the text: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation.
However, today I write from Honduras where I have brought a group of students to participate in a medical brigade at the Holy Family Surgery Center. The days are long and exhausting (but very rewarding), and although our studies at the School of Divinity are a thousand miles away, our work here is essentially a "crash course" in formation. Daily care of self and intense human interaction on many different levels contributes to personal growth. Communal and private prayer nurtures the spiritual life. Students pursuing independent studies read and reflect with faculty on recent developments in the Catholic social tradition. And our care for and response to the patients we serve greatly expands our pastoral skills. The need for a holistic approach to ministry preparation is immediately evident in everything that we experience here in "the vineyard of the Lord."