By Mary Pedersen
Special to The Witness
CEDAR RAPIDS — On Saturday, May 11, members of the 2017-19 cohort, with their mentors, participated in a final session of IMPACT, a lay formation program designed to help adults deepen their relationships with God.
The latest participants recalled their first experiences of IMPACT and their two years of spiritual, personal, pastoral, and theological growth — of “transformation.” Using the story of the road to Emmaus, these men and women conversed about all that had occurred along the way. They discussed highlights of the two years, including the holy fire of the Spirit, the vulnerability of God in the Incarnation, the fulfillment of the covenant, of blessedness, grace, and The Joy of the Gospel. They remembered the ways their eyes had been opened as they had encountered Jesus through their mentors and pastors, Scripture and Sacrament, in the assigned readings, and in each other.
Diane Formo spoke with enthusiasm: “The Impact program is such an incredible faith journey. This program and the wonderful people I’ve met here are an incredible gift that I will forever be thankful for and that truly is life changing!”
Everyone was excited to celebrate the learning, friendship and growth and they were also challenged to make an even greater impact as they returned to their parishes/clusters with their newfound formation. None of the participants could have predicted where God was leading, but concluded IMPACT with a greater understanding of God calling each to live as a missionary disciple.
Jennifer Jacobs reported: “Two years ago we began this powerful journey called IMPACT. From the beginning, I knew that I was where God wanted me. At this point, I’m not sure where God is leading me next, how He wants to use this in my life, how He wants to use me for His purposes…but I am seeking and open.”
Reflecting on her journey in IMPACT, Nicole Trapani wrote: “The IMPACT community has walked with me down this road of brokenness and blessing, suffering and joy. And God has been intimately involved every step of the way. I have felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit and found solace in new forms of prayer. I have gained deeper understandings and new insights. I have wrestled with concepts, analyzing and internalizing the information provided within the assigned readings and Saturday presentations. I have considered the perceptions, experiences and opinions of my group members and those of our greater IMPACT cohort. I have reflected upon all this in conversations with my spiritual mentor. And, in the end, it is this beautiful fusion of education and community that makes this lay formation program so impactful.”
The day concluded with Mass celebrated by Father Ken Glaser, pastor of St. Ludmila Parish in Cedar Rapids. On behalf of Archbishop Michael Jackels, Father Glaser commissioned the IMPACT participants to take all they had gained back to their home parishes.
The challenge inspired Melissa Fettkether: “I am excited to take what I have learned and discovered about myself and the Catholic beliefs and continue to apply it to my daily life,” she said. “I am also looking forward to working within my parish and pastorate to provide leadership in the ways that best suit my gifts and the parish. I like the quote I heard during one of the sessions, ‘Be responsible for our Church. Ask not what my parish can do for me but what can I do for my parish.”
The May session commissioned, blessed and sent all those who completed IMPACT back to their parishes/clusters to make an even greater IMPACT for Christ! The next IMPACT cohort begins this September and will meet once a month from September through April for the next two years in Elkader, Iowa. IMPACT is directed by the Archdiocese of Dubuque in collaboration with Loras College. To learn more about IMPACT or to register, please check the website: https://www.dbqarch.org/offices/adult-faith/archdiocesan-programs/impact/.
For more information, please contact Mary Pedersen: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 319-290-5488. Pedersen is the director of adult faith formation for the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
The group pictured above completed the IMPACT program May 11. The lay formation initiative takes about two years to finish. During that time, participants study the Catholic faith, listen to speakers and meet with spiritual mentors, among other activities. (Contributed photo)