Challenged to 'bring the message of hope and salvation to all"
HICKORY — "Lord God, in Your loving kindness You sent Your Son to be our shepherd and guide. Continue to send workers into Your vineyard to sustain and direct Your people."
That was the prayer spoken by Monsignor Mauricio W. West, vicar general and chancellor, as he blessed 57 lay ministers who were recently recognized for completing the Diocese of Charlotte Lay Ministry Program.
Dr. Frank Villaronga, diocesan director of evangelization and adult education, presented these newly formed lay ministers to Msgr. West. The ceremony took place on June 16 at the Catholic Conference Center with 135 lay ministers, family, friends and teachers in attendance at Mass.
Pictured: Tim Britton from St. Leo Church in Winston-Salem shakes hands with Dr. Frank Villaronga after the ceremony. (Photo by Barbara Gaddy)
During his homily, Msgr. West reminded the graduates that they have "discerned a call to become followers of Jesus in the world and to bring His message of hope and salvation to all to whom you come in contact."
After sharing a story about service at the Catholic Social Service Food Pantry, Msgr. West reminded all of them that they "must be Jesus for others."
"Father Shawn and I cannot do this work alone," he said. "We need you!"
Concelebrant at the Mass, Father Shawn O'Neal, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Bryson City and Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Cherokee, made the trip to celebrate with his first two "graduates," Glenda Jarrett from Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Cherokee and Concetta "Connie" R. Di Lillo from St. Joseph Church in Bryson City.
George "Tim" Britton from St. Leo Church in Winston-Salem said he was profoundly touched by Msgr. West's message.
"I've been told multiple times throughout Lay Ministry that I am called to be holy, to bring Christ to others, but hearing from Father Mo (West) that I am 'called to be Jesus' was so powerful," Britton said.
The multicultural nature of the gathering was evidenced by the first time a reading was proclaimed in Vietnamese at a Lay Ministry Mass. St. Joseph Church parishioner and graduate Quang Thanh Nguyen read from the First Book of Kings.
This year's group of lay ministry graduates represents 28 parishes throughout the Diocese of Charlotte. Classes were held in Bryson City, Lenoir, Greensboro and Charlotte over the past two years.
Read more about the Lay Ministry Program at http://education.charlottediocese.net/adult-education/lay-ecclesial-ministry-formation/diocesan-program.
— Barbara Gaddy