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Commissioned ministers urged to be kind and listen

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

July 17, 2019

The following is the homily delivered by Bishop Terry R. LaValley at the Commissioning of Lay Ministers held June 30.

In this Sunday’s Gospel from Luke, we heard that Jesus sent some messengers on ahead into a Samaritan village2019 Lay Commissioning to help prepare the residents there to welcome Jesus. But they refused to welcome Him. So, James and John asked: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them? Jesus turned and rebuked the two…” It seems that the people back in the time of Jesus had problems being hospitable. Some, even his closest disciples, suffered from a serious deficiency in just plain kindness.

Some things never seem to change. Today, there is so much contention and confrontation. Verbal missiles, fists or other lethal weaponry are hurled towards those who don’t see things our way. So many want to call down fire from heaven. There is no small amount of meanness and anger expressed on social media. The evening news abounds with examples. Our government is so polarized, we can’t talk civilly, let alone work together, for instance, towards immigration reform. Innocent people, meanwhile, suffer terribly because we won’t listen.

That’s the world in which we are called to minister today and it’s not all out there, far from home. At times, we may find divisiveness in our communities, our families, our parishes. Sadly, sometimes even in our own diocesan planning process when important decisions need to be made, a few of us might find it difficult to dialogue.

Change can be so very difficult. As newly commissioned ministers of the Church, I ask you to be particularly attentive, kind and respectful to those you encounter who are hurting, those who might express their frustration in negative ways. I know that it takes a whole lot of patience to listen. Today, more than ever, ours must be a ministry of reconciliation.

A couple married for 15 years began having more than the usual disagreements. In fact, their marriage was in crisis. They really wanted to work through it and agreed on an idea the wife had. For one month, they planned to drop a slip of paper in a “fault” box. The boxes would provide a place to let the other know about their daily irritations – their spouse’s faults. The wife was diligent in her approach: “leaving the cap off the toothpaste,” “wet towels on the shower floor,” “dirty socks not in the hamper,” and on and on until the end of the month.
After dinner, at the end of the month, they exchanged “fault” boxes. The husband reflected on what he had done wrong, as written on the slips of paper he read. Then the wife opened her box and began reading hers. The slips she was reading were all the same. The message on each slip was “I love you!” The crisis was over. The message of love was heard. If we could only learn to be merciful, to retrieve people’s good sides from the junk drawers of their soul. And, don’t we all have junk drawers in our souls?

Towards the end of her life, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta gave this advice, which I’m sure you’ve heard before: People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

We are so blessed because you have decided to participate in our Formation for Ministry program. You are allowing the Lord, through His Body, the Church to help equip you for discipleship. An important gift you bring to discipleship is the gift of attentive listening. The story is told of a famous author who was cared for as a child by a peasant woman after his mother had died. For about eight years during this period of his life, the author was blind. Years later, he had this to say about the woman who cared for him:

This woman, Martha was her name, took loving care of me. I remember she was a big woman and she must have really loved me because I remember those eight years of blindness in my childhood as essentially a happy time of my life. I remember a lot of talk and a lot of laughter. I must have talked a great deal as a child because Martha used to say to me again and again, “Do you remember when you said this” Do you remember when you said that?” And I realized that she had been listening to me and remembered what I said. And all my life I have had this feeling about myself: that what I think and what I say are worth listening to and remembering. This is the gift she gave me! My sisters and brothers, may each of us be such a gift bearer to our parishioners. May each of our parishioners know that he or she is worth listening to, that we have welcoming ears and tender hearts.

I know that these last two years, you have been listening attentively to all that your instructors offered you as they sought to help with the renewal of your minds and hearts through instruction about our Catholic faith. I want to thank them, Catherine Russell and all the members of the Formation for Ministry and Christian Formation staff, our pastors and parishioners for their strong support.

It’s no secret the Church of the North Country will rely more and more on your ministry in the local parish. Remember that you are co-missioned—that is, missioned with your sisters and brothers, members of the one Body of Christ. We never serve alone.

Today, on behalf of the Church of Ogdensburg, with a whole lot of gratitude and pride, I send you out for active discipleship in Jesus’ Name. I want to call down from heaven the fire of Christ’s love to empower you all. Give God’s holy people the best you’ve got, no matter the situation and through it all: May God be praised…forever may God be praised!

2019 Lay Commissioning

Lay ministers from 23 parishes commissioned

The Roman Catholic Community of Brownville and Dexter

Edward J. Queal – Liturgical Ministry
Theresa A. Queal – Liturgical Ministry

St. James Minor Church, Carthage
Anna Margaret Archer-Runge – Catechetical Leadership
Susan M. Gibbs – Parish Life and Outreach
Lori A. Hanno – Parish Life and Outreach and Catechetical Leadership
Nicholas R. Hanno – Parish Life and Outreach and Catechetical Leadership
Joseph Margrey – Liturgical Ministry
Joanne M. Norrgard – Liturgical Ministry
Judy H. Nye – Liturgical Ministry
Brandon J. Olley – Catechetical Leadership
Monica M. Olley – Parish Life and Outreach
Michelle L. Wojcikowski – Youth Ministry
Thomas D. Wojcikowski – Youth Ministry

St. Mary’s Church, Copenhagen
Michael Joseph Arsenault – Parish Life and Outreach
Sadie L. Shettleton – Parish Life and Outreach

St. Mary’s Church, Evans Mills
Tammie M. Eggleston – Youth Ministry
Cathy Anne Voos – Catechetical Leadership

St. Francis Solanus Church, Harrisville
Julie Chartrand – Youth Ministry

St. Peter’s Church, Lowville
Sarah Jane Neddo – Catechetical Leadership

Church of the Holy Family, Watertown
Charles N. Childs – Liturgical Ministry
Anne M. Seegebarth – Catechetical Leadership
Gary E. West – Liturgical Ministry

St. Anthony’s Church, Watertown
David Buskey – Parish Life and Outreach
Kathi Buskey – Parish Life and Outreach
Sarah Buskey – Youth Ministry

The Catholic Community of Holy Name and St. Matthew, Au Sable Forks

Henry Coolidge – Liturgical Ministry
Holly Coolidge – Liturgical Ministry
Norman W. Hatch – Liturgical Ministry

The Roman Catholic Community of Keeseville, Keeseville
John LaHart – Liturgical Ministry

St. Agnes Church, Lake Placid
Marcia Bugbee – Parish Life and Outreach
Kristen Clark – Parish Life and Outreach
Bernadette Clarke – Liturgical Ministry
Ann M. Hearden – Liturgical Ministry
Sandra E. Izzo

St. Augustine’s Church, Peru
Dwane Bast – Catechetical Leadership
Kristen Bast – Parish Life and Outreach

St. Peter’s Church, Plattsburgh
Janice Tobin – Liturgical Ministry

St. Bernard’s Church, Saranac Lake
Stuart Darrah – Parish Life and Outreach
Tracy Darrah – Parish Life and Outreach
Claudia A. Fennell – Liturgical Ministry
Robin Hogan-Law – Parish Life and Outreach
Jimmy Law – Liturgical Ministry

St. Patrick’s Church, Brasher Falls

Lynda A. Lemieux – Parish Life and Outreach

St. Mary’s Church, Brushton
Troy J. Deno – Catechetical Leadership

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary, Canton
Cathleen E. O’Horo – Liturgical Ministry

St. Regis Mission, Hogansburg
Dr. Rose-Alma J. McDonald – Catechetical Leadership
Caroline Peters – Youth Ministry
Lisa M. Tarbell – Parish Life and Outreach

St. André Bessette Roman Catholic Parish, Malone
David Petrelli - Parish Life & Outreach
Sponsor: Rev. Steven M. Murray/Rev. Steven M. Murray

St. Peter’s Parish, Massena
Patricia A. Badlam
John C. Kozsan – Parish Life and Outreach
Sylvie Marion – Parish Life and Outreach

Our Ladies Parishes, Ogdensburg
Lorraine Carney – Catechetical Leadership
Lil Dailey – Catechetical Leadership
Angela Morley
Mark E. Sovie – Liturgical Ministry
Mary Wood – Parish Life and Outreach

The Roman Catholic Community of St. Mary, Potsdam
John Andrikut – Parish Life and Outreach and Liturgical Ministry
Suzanne Francis Smith – Parish Life and Outreach

St. Mary’s Church, Waddington
Debra Lynn Gainey – Youth Ministry
Matthew J. Gainey – Parish Life and Outreach
Mary O’Horo Loomis - Liturgical Ministry
Anne Marie Young – Youth Ministry


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