MAM celebrates 10 years of lay formation

BRIGHTON -- Faithful lay ministry was the focus of a gathering to celebrate an advanced degree program that has trained lay leaders for the local Church for the past ten years.

On March 21, the archdiocese’s Master of Arts in Ministry (MAM) marked its 10th anniversary with a Mass, silent auction, and buffet luncheon at St. John’s Seminary.

“It is training and educating laity for their role in evangelization and for the mission for the Church in society,” said MAM’s director, Aldona Lingertat.

The Mass was offered by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley. Between Mass and lunch, attendees had a chance to bid on large prizes such as an autographed Jonathan Papelbon jersey and Red Sox tickets, and some others tailored to appeal to MAM students and alumni, such as dinner with the rector of St. John’s Seminary.

Following lunch, remarks were given by MaryAnn McLaughlin, the co-director of the archdiocese’s Worship and Spiritual Life office. Bishop Richard Malone, of Portland, Maine, delivered the keynote address.

Cardinal O’Malley praised the commitment of the laity in the life of today’s Church during his homily.

“That deep sense of commitment and vocation in lay ministries is the strength of the Church in so many parts of the world,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We need for it to be one of our great strengths in the United States.”

In his address, Bishop Malone, a former Boston auxiliary bishop, as well as religious education secretary for the Boston archdiocese, Harvard University chaplain, and St. John’s professor, reminded those in attendance of the role of the laity in today’s Church by citing the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canon Law.

Bishop Malone also spoke of the process of founding the MAM program, which he said began in the 1980s.

Since 2000, the MAM program has trained lay leaders such as pastoral associates, religious education directors, and employees of local Catholic entities for their service to today’s Church. The program is taught by numerous St. John’s faculty.

“At that time, the archdiocese needed a program that would be specifically for our local laity who were committed to the diocese and the local parishes. The seminary was asked if their faculty could help teach in the program,” said Lingertat.

Today, Lingertat said, the program enrolls 100 students per semester. Students take 11 core courses and four electives, as well as participate in a field education experience analogous to an internship, and spiritual and human formation which includes workshops, and faith sharing.

“We’re trying to help form the whole person,” Lingertat said.

In the future, Lingertat said she hopes to increase the scope of the program’s offerings. She said that she hopes to continue a recently-launched summer Scripture study series and the catechetical certificate. She said she also hopes to offer additional financial aid for students.

Students take the program for a variety of reasons, according to Lingertat, including for the degree, personal faith formation, and to audit the courses for ongoing education.

Alumni of the program have included Pilot columnist and music director of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, CatholicTV General Manager Jay Fadden, and CatholicTV news anchor Kevin Nelson.

During the celebration, alumni from the program’s early years reflected on MAM’s merits in their lives.

Bonnie Rodgers, a member of the first graduating class in 2002, is responsible for marketing and programming at CatholicTV. Prior to her current position, she retired from a career in contingency planning and information technology at Verizon.

“When (the MAM program) became available, it made sense to learn more,” she said.

She recalled specific faculty and their courses, including a class on the Eastern and Western traditions of the Liturgy of the Hours taught by Father Christopher Coyne, a Christology class taught by former MAM director Father Robyn Ryan, CP, and classes with then-Msgr. Richard Lennon, who went on to serve as Apostolic Administrator of the archdiocese and is now Bishop of Cleveland.

Rodgers also recalled a class on the Blessed Mother and the saints taught by Fathers Bill Kelly and George Evans.

Alumnus Jeff Eckelkamp recalled discussing content from class with peers.

“Some of the best stuff from MAM is the stuff that happened in between classes and around the kitchen,” he said. “You look forward to the breaks between classes because that’s when the good stuff happens.”

Eckelkamp has been volunteering in youth ministry and adult faith formation. He said he hopes to work in adult faith formation.

Jennifer McKiernan, another ‘02 grad, recalled the academic knowledge she gained, as well as the friendships she formed with classmates.

Prior to enrolling in the MAM program, she was a teacher at a Catholic school in the archdiocese.

She credits the MAM program for readying her for her current role as religious education director at Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden and baptismal program director at St. Theresa of Avila Parish in West Roxbury

“It was a wonderful time of both spiritual formation and preparation for parish ministry,” said McKiernan.