SALT LAKE CITY — Marking the culmination of the second generation of the certified lay ecclesial ministry program in Spanish, a certification ceremony will be celebrated during a Mass with Bishop Oscar A. Solis on Aug. 17 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
The four-year program, known as EMAUS II, has 57 participants. An additional 13 were in the English program; all of them will be certified during the Aug. 17 Mass.
Among the EMAUS II participants preparing for certification are Roberto and Blanca Mercado, Saint Francis Xavier parishioners ; they are also part of the Marriage Encounter in Spanish. For them, having been admitted to the program has been a blessing despite the sacrifices.
“For us as a married couple, entering this program, the purpose was to learn and prepare ourselves better to be able to serve the community better,” Roberto Mercado said. “This program nourishes our abilities to serve. It gives us more tools to keep on learning and serving.”
In their perspective, the Catholic Church in today’s world more than ever needs people who understand the faith.
“Sometimes we don’t have the right attitudes, we are not welcoming, we don’t have the patience for others and sometimes we feel that we are better than others, but here in the EMAUS what we have learned is totally the opposite,” Roberto said. “The more you learn the more you have to be humble and the more that you have to serve.”
The couple still has much more to learn, but “we are on the right path to be able to serve better,” he said.
One of the program’s most relevant things for him is the invitation to be missionary disciples, to use what they have learned outside of their parishes, he said.
Reaching out everywhere is important, he said. “Our church needs us. Sometimes Catholics leave the faith because they don’t have the opportunity to really get to know about it.”
For the Mercados, being a member of a minority faith in Utah is a challenge but is also a great opportunity to put the faith into action.
“Our brothers and sisters need us to serve them and if we are prepared, we can share the knowledge and not let others mislead the Catholics,” said Roberto, adding that once a person learns more about the Catholic faith, “you love it, and the more you know about it the more you are proud to be a Catholic in Utah.”
After being certified, the Mercados plan to keep on serving and reaching out.
“We are available and open to what the Church, our pastor and our bishop ask us to do,” he said.
The first group of Spanish-speaking lay ecclesial ministers in the Diocese of Salt Lake City was certified in 2014 along with the second group of English-speaking LEMs; the diocese certified its first LEMs in 2010. Since being certified, LEMs have participated in various parish ministries such as religious education and leading retreats, said Maria Cruz Gray, director of the diocesan Hispanic Ministry.
For information about the EMAUS program, call Maria Cruz Gray at 801-328-8641 ext. 361.
WHAT: Lay Ecclesial Minister Certification Mass
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 17, 11 a.m.
WHERE: Cathedral of the Madeleine, 209 E. South Temple, SLC
All in the diocese are welcome to attend.