Two open-ended questions included at the end of the questionnaire allowed respondents to elaborate upon their responses to the close-ended questions. The first question asked program directors to name the most important elements of spiritual formation for lay ecclesial ministers and describe why they are the most important. The second question asked program directors what they think lay ecclesial ministry candidates find most helpful for their spiritual formation.
A total of 172 respondents provided comments in response to the question, "What are the most important elements for spiritual formation for lay ecclesial ministers? Why?" Many of the responses reiterated items from the questionnaire, but a number elaborated on those items and explained their reasons for considering these elements most important.
Most Important Elements for the
Spiritual Formation of Lay Ecclesial Ministers
Most frequently mentioned elements:
|Theological reflection||29 mentions|
|Healthy sense of self||17 mentions|
The following are typical of responses to the question on the most important elements in the spiritual formation of lay ecclesial ministers:
Understanding of call. Awareness of a discernment process. Ability to enter into theological reflection. Commitment to prayer. Why: these are the tools for holy self-directing ministers, who hold themselves accountable.
Shared prayer. Study of the tradition. Theological reflection on personal ministry. Experience of community. These are the elements of the LIMEX program that the graduates identify most often in transforming them.
Sense of mission discipleship, community and prayer. These three elements keep us centered on the mission and purpose of Jesus. We live out the call of Christianity by living within a community, actually many communities in which we use out faith and interpersonal skills in diverse ways. The church community, communal and personal prayer give us "fuel" to live out lives as disciples of Christ.
About the same number, 173 respondents, reflected on the question, "What do lay ecclesial ministry candidates find most helpful for their spiritual formation? Why?"
Spiritual Formation Elements Most Helpful to
Lay Ecclesial Ministry Candidates
Most frequently mentioned elements:
|Group activities||24 mentions|
|Spiritual direction||21 mentions|
The following examples illustrate some of the common themes that directors report as the elements of spiritual formation that are most helpful to their candidates:
Most of the candidates have shared that they find theological reflection invaluable, especially those who have taken positions in parishes. Doing theological reflection with pastoral teams has helped with perspective and created bonds of community with the members. We haven't had the program long enough to answer what candidates find most helpful for their spiritual formation. Many have spoken about gratitude for the varied opportunities to experience prayer forms, the strong sense of community they experience growing out of our Eucharistic Liturgies. It tells them they are about something good and worthwhile for their lives. They have also commented on the helpfulness of faith sharing with other students, it helps them put their prayer and life experiences together.
Opportunities for prayer, retreats, etc. as these nourish and support their spiritual life. Theological reflection and faith sharing as these help them to express faith in order to share with others.
Ongoing opportunity for prayer and faith sharing. The opportunity to pray and place their story into the context of a shared experience aids their personal development of a ministerial identity and an experience of grace.