Diocesan Ministry Day Offers Something For Everyone

What do catechists, liturgical ministers, parents and parish council members all have in common? Each of them will find something tailored to their ministry needs at this year’s Diocesan Ministry Day.

This year’s theme, From Encounter to Accompaniment, speaks to the challenge Pope Francis says we all face in our lives. Missionary discipleship, he says, begins with an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Once we have been introduced to our Lord, we want to learn more about him and, eventually, help others come to know him too.

The full day of formation, set for Saturday, March 7, 2020 at All Saints School in Norwalk, begins with registration at 8:30 am, followed by Mass, celebrated by Bishop Frank J. Caggiano. Following Mass and light hospitality, there will be three sets of workshops. The day will conclude with closing prayer at 4 pm.

Patrick Donovan, director of The Leadership Institute, which is sponsoring the event, says the plethora of workshops should appeal to a wide audience. “When we invited workshop presenters, we were careful to make sure we included speakers that would have broad appeal, yet be able to speak specifically to those in various ministries.”

As an example, Donovan notes that Joe Paprocki, a well-known catechist and author with Loyola Press, will host three workshops that that on the surface, look like they are designed only for catechists who teach in our parish religious education programs. “But look a little closer,” Donovan adds, “and you will see that what Joe will be sharing is appropriate for Catholic school teachers and parents too.”

Workshops are planned in a few other languages too, including Spanish, Portuguese, and Vietnamese. Complete details of workshops will be put online as speakers submit them.

Parish Council Track
Following Bishop Caggiano’s decree last June that all parishes establish (or restore) a parish pastoral council to help in the leadership of the parish, several parishes requested that The Leadership Institute offer formation for parish council members.

To accomplish this, Donovan says, he has invited Rich Curran, founder of Parish Success Group, to host a track of workshops throughout the day for those who serve on parish councils. Curran, author of We Lack for Nothing: Five Essentials to Grow Your Church, has more than 30 years of experience in helping parishes improve communication, planning, and strategic visioning. He will accompany those who serve on parish councils to help them develop measurable outcomes, a communication plan, and a better understanding of the important role parish councils can play in a parish.

Pastors who wish to attend with their parish council members are welcome to drop in and out as their schedule permits. Parish council members should indicate their desire to participate in this track by checking the appropriate box on the registration form.

Estate and Funeral Planning
When the funeral norms were published in September 2019, The Leadership Institute launched a webpage with several resources for those who wanted to learn more about end of life issues, how to plan a funeral, and even how to write words of remembrance. Now, in collaboration with Catholic Cemeteries, workshops will be offered in three specific areas:

Estate Planning. Emily Wilson, a 2014 Synod delegate and Norwalk attorney who works with seniors, will offer a workshop to help those who wish to learn more about how to plan their estate, write a will, establish an advance directive, and more.

Planning a Funeral. Sister Mary Ellen Genova, Director of Pastoral Outreach at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, will lend her expertise to those who wish to begin planning their own funeral or the funeral of a loved one. Sister’s compassionate care and gentle way with families is well-known in the diocese.

The Benefits of Bereavement. A team from St. Thomas More in Darien will share their own experiences of work in this important area as an inspiration to others who hope to begin a bereavement ministry in their parish.

Pope Francis, Youth and Young Adults
Paul Jarzembowski, who staffs the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth at the USCCB, will offer one workshop on his own and one with his wife, Sarah, Coordinator for College Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. These workshops will focus on the epidemic of loneliness that faces many young adults, how to bring young adults back to the church, and Christus Vivit, Pope Francis’ new framework for outreach to young people.

Brenner LeCompte, a youth minister from St. Mary in Ridgefield, will compliment these discussions with a workshop of his own on how to keep young people safe online and how to keep young people from leaving the Church in the first place.

Nicole Perone, Director of Adult Education in the Archdiocese of Hartford, will share her wisdom about the power of adult education in parishes and how engaging the faithful in formation can lead to parish renewal.

Ela Milewska, Executive Director of the Department of Youth Faith Formation in the Archdiocese of New York, will offer her 30 plus years of experience in catechesis to those who wish to learn more about what really works in engaging young people in the faith.

Special Musical Guest
To lead the music for the day, we will be joined by Tony Melendez. Tony will lead the music at Mass, offer a workshop in English and Spanish about the power of music, and then close the day in prayer.

A thalidomide baby, Tony was born without arms. He was brought to Los Angeles from Nicaragua at an early age to be fitted with prosthetic arms, which never quite fit, especially since he had grown accustomed to using his fit. In time, Tony taught himself to play the guitar with his toes. He was propelled to stardom when he played for then Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles and the Holy Father, inspired by Tony’s performance, leapt from the stage to embrace Tony and kiss his feet. Today, Tony is an internationally-known musician who travels the world singing and sharing his story of how God always gives you the gifts you need.

To Learn More
For a complete overview of the day, an explanation of workshops, and to register, please visit . The cost for the day is $20 per person, which includes morning hospitality and lunch. Participants will choose workshops on the day of the event, allowing more workshops to be added right up to the moment the doors open.

Click here to read Bishop Frank Caggiano’s invitation.