Recently, 11 parishioners from across the Catholic Diocese of Marquette completed their final semester with the diocesan Ecclesial Ministry Institute (EMI), an intensive September to May, two-year program of study, formation, prayer and reflection. The program is specifically designed for lay people in the diocese to equip participants to more fully live their Catholic faith and serve their parish communities.
This year’s EMI graduates with their parishes are Bob Berbohm, Holy Family, Flat Rock; Karen Berbohm, Holy Family, Flat Rock; Justin Chouinard, St. Mary & St. Joseph, Iron Mountain; Katie Flaherty, St. Peter Cathedral, Marquette; Paula LeFevre, St. John the Baptist, Garden; Jenny Lochner, St. Peter Cathedral, Marquette; Lenora (Len) McKeen, St. Anthony, Gwinn; Bill McKnight, St. Louis the King, Marquette; Diane Noel, St. Michael, Marquette; Alison Schlag, Our Lady of Peace, Ironwood; and Terry Verville, St. Agnes, Iron River.
“EMI exposed us to the talented priests and deacons in our diocese, as well as Sister Marie Lamora, who guided us to a deeper understanding of our glorious faith,” stated Bob Berbohm, who at his parish in Flat Rock serves as a lector and Eucharistic minister, along with being a catechist for pre-Cana, faith formation and Catholics Returning Home.
His wife, Karen, also a Eucharistic minister and volunteer of St. Vincent de Paul added, “EMI has definitely made me look deeper into our Catholic faith, it is truly a blessing. There's so much to learn and it's a never-ending journey.”
Katie Flaherty, whose parish ministry is serving as the RCIA coordinator, along with being a mother of two, is thankful for the class and participating instructors. “I learned a great deal and was also impressed by the knowledge and talent of our many instructors, and grateful for the gift of their time.”
Paula LeFevre commented on the program as “a wonderful faith-filled learning experience.” LeFevre serves the three Catholic parishes in the Garden area as faith formation and youth ministry director, and safe environment coordinator.
“EMI is an invaluable experience which most of us could not otherwise have, with family and work commitments,” stated Jenny Lochner, whose parish ministries are faith formation coordinator and respect life ministry. “I have some wonderful new friendships in Christ and a much stronger ability to witness and evangelize, as well.”
Len McKeen echoed Lochner, “The EMI course is a great way to explore church history, develop strong relationships with other participants, and deepen your faith.” McKeen’s primary ministry is the St. Francis Connection Center, an outreach of St. Anthony Parish in Gwinn.
Bill McKnight, an active participant in the Koinonia movement, along with serving in youth ministry and as a lector and a Eucharistic minister at his parish, added, “The great teachers of our diocese came together to broaden our knowledge and to invite us to further study. Fortunately, this is a subject that knows no limit to how far you can dive for a deeper understanding.”
“I have grown in my faith in ways I didn't expect. The experience has brought me such peace and joy. I now feel much better equipped to participate in ministry in my parish,” noted Diane Noel, whose parish ministries include RCIA, Eucharistic minister, Mass coordinator, parish registrar and part-time parish secretary.
Justin Chouinard, a Eucharistic minister at St. Mary and St. Joseph Parish in Iron Mountain, said of the program, “It is a wealth of information and knowledge of the Catholic faith that all parishioners should attend.”
Alison Schlag, faith formation coordinator of Our Lady of Peace in Ironwood, enjoyed the communal aspect of the program, “It has been a fantastic opportunity to grow in your faith and meet wonderful people from around the diocese.”
“EMI has brought me closer to my faith, and is only the first step in coming closer to Christ,” stated Terry Verville, whose parish ministries include minister of communion, lector, server, member of the Pastoral Council, chair of the Fundraising Committee and a third degree Knight of Columbus.
The EMI program began with its first class in 1982, then called the diocesan Lay Ministry Leadership School, and later became known as the Ecclesial Ministry Institute. The classes are both academic and spiritual in nature, and topics include Church history, Vatican II documents and the sacramental and moral life of the Church.