God’s love is complete. I’ve come to understand and appreciate this truth more fully through my experience in the Lay Formation program at Saint John's Seminary. In a world searching for meaning, Jesus Christ – and the unconditional love He poured out for each of us in his Paschal Mystery -- offers the only real answer that will satisfy our souls – and lead us to eternal life. In St. Augustine’s insightful words: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
By virtue of our Baptism each of us is called to participate in the life of Christ and to witness to the Gospel as members of the Body of Christ. For me the nature of this calling evolved over many years and led me to enroll in the Master of Arts in Ministry Program as I envisioned taking a more formal role in Church ministry work. I’d say it was “love” that led me to the program. Love for my God, our Blessed Mother, and the Saints. Love shared with my husband and my family – particularly as we traveled through a journey of caregiving for my mom with Alzheimer’s Disease. Love for my “sisters-in-Christ” who formed the faith formation community I led in my local parish through the Women of Grace apostolate. But most of all, it was love of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary and a desire to do the Father’s will.
Moving forward in faith, I trusted in the wisdom of Saint John's integrated Lay Formation Program to better equip me for the important vocation as a “co-worker in the vineyard,” and I was never disappointed! The experience exceeded my expectations across the “four pillars of formation,” as inspired by the vision of Pope St. John Paul II. I confess that I thoroughly enjoyed my academic classes, delving into Scripture, Philosophy, Theology, Liturgy, Ecclesiology among others, and in turn developing a new level of knowledge and fluency that I will continue to build on in mining the riches of our Catholic faith. The two-year formation program offered a path to explore “human” and “spiritual” pillars that are essential to maturing in one’s faith and becoming an effective minister of the Church. And the two years of apostolic field education enabled exploration of ministry roles with the advantage of active personal reflection and supervision.
Now transitioning from student to alumni ranks I’m most grateful to have participated in this superb integrated program with outstanding and supportive professors and peers. I’d encourage anyone who currently works in pastoral ministry or is thinking about a potential “encore career” in vocations of lay faithful to take a serious look at this amazing program.
It is my humble hope that as I go forth deeper in the vineyard, I’ll be able to witness effectively to God’s unfathomable love and, in doing so, encourage others to open their hearts more fully to rest in the Lord.
By: Lynne O’Connor
Master of Arts in Ministry
Class of 2022