Lay Ministry Leaders Hold Annual Conference
by Shirley Figueroa-Lascano
The National Association for Lay Ministry (NALM) held its 41st Annual Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, from May 31 to June 3, 2017. This year’s theme was “Joy on the Journey”— Serve, Collaborate, Dream. The three-day event was attended by Lay Ecclesial Leaders and religious on a national level. Honored guest speakers offered inspiration to the attendees.
The opening keynote speaker was Fr. Ricky Manalo, CSP, PhD, a Paulist priest and a liturgical composer who is currently teaching at Santa Clara University in California. He also serves as the main facilitator of the Cultural Orientation Program for International Ministers/Priests (COPIM) of Loyola Marymount University. He studied composition and piano at the Manhattan School of Music, theology at the Washington Theological Union, and liturgy, culture, and sociology at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), in Berkeley, California.
Before Fr. Ricky began this speech, he performed an Easter song, “Springtime Is Blossoming”, which he wrote for the children in his parish. He spoke on “What is Culture?” focusing on the past 40 years of NALM and the future of our church in the lens of ‘culture’. The Friday Banquet was highlighted by a presentation of the following awards:
- The Gaudium et Spes Award was presented to Most Rev. Gerald R. Barnes, Diocese of San Bernardino. Bishop Barnes is chief shepherd to one of the fastest growing dioceses in the nation; with over 27,000 square miles and over 1.6 million Catholics.
- The Juan Diego Award was presented to Dr. Arturo Chavez. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Mexican American Catholic College (MACC) in San Antonio, Texas. Nationally recognized for his servantleadership, he was appointed to serve on the White House Council for Faith Based Neighborhood Partnerships.
- The Spirit of the Conference Award was presented to Gerald Tortorella, who embodies the theme of service, collaboration and dream resulting in Joy! As Director of Pastoral Institute whom he held since 2009, he was responsible for overseeing the Lay Formation Program of our Diocese. Jerry and his wife Maria devoted their service to their parish of 35 years.
The Closing keynote speech was delivered by a firm believer on the role of the laity and a descendant of the family of John and Helena Raskob, who founded the RASCOB Foundation in 1945. Currently the Foundation has about 125 family members. One of them is Kerry Alys Robinson, who shared her support and love in NALM for the role of the laity in the “life and vitality of the Church.”
As a Lay Ministry Leader myself, attending the NALM Conference brought an enlightening spirit and hope in the life of our church. The appreciation and recognition of religious, including bishops on a national level, are inspirations in the service for the future.
On the other hand, lay leaders must be responsible for the growth and constant formation of oneself so as to become effective in the Ministry and the church to which we so belong by virtue of our baptism.
On behalf of the representatives who attended NALM this year, we want to recognize Bishop DiMarzio and Theodore Musco, Executive Director of the School of Evangelization, for their messages in this year’s Conference. I also want to extend my gratitude to Fr. Jeffry T. Dillon, Pastor of Christ the King Church in Springfield Gardens, Jamaica, for his support.