Six lay ministers to receive Emmaus certification

ALLOUEZ — Six lay ministers from around the Diocese of Green Bay will receive certificates acknowledging their completion of the Emmaus Program for Ministerial Leaders, which is the lay ministry formation program of the diocese. 

Bishop David Ricken will lead a celebration liturgy to certify these Emmaus Program Ministerial Leaders on Thursday, May 6, 6:30 p.m., at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay.

“These students have done fine work in preparation for ministry under very difficult circumstances,” said Jamie Whalen, lay leader formation director. “With their coursework moving online because of the pandemic, and the closing of Holy Family College in Manitowoc, they’ve had a lot to deal with. Since parish ministers have to be very flexible, in some ways this was good preparation. I am very proud of what they’ve achieved and how they are serving their parishes.”

Emmaus is a three-stage process involving personal, pastoral and spiritual experiences, academic studies and a supervised practice of ministry. It provides preparation in five basic areas in order to assist the pastor/pastoral leader: faith formation, youth ministry, pastoral ministry, liturgy and parish business administration.

The new certified ministers are:

Michelle S. Blatz, Liturgy and Pastoral Ministry

Blatz, of New Holstein, is the pastoral, liturgy and music coordinator at Good Shepherd Parish in Chilton. She serves as an organist and in many roles and committees in the parish. She enjoys sharing her time with family and friends.

Barbara Dehne, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry

Dehne has been the OTIS (Optimistic Teens Improving Society) youth coordinator at St. Thomas the Apostle in Newton since 2013. Dehne works part-time for St. Thomas the Apostle Parish while working full-time for Weber Oil Company in Kiel. She has been married to her husband, Duane, for 20 years and they have one daughter, Tess. In her spare time, Dehne enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing games and going for walks. 

Candace Lynn Gehl, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry

Gehl is a religious education coordinator for the Tri-Parish Catholic Faith Community in Sherwood, Hilbert and Stockbridge. She works full-time as a teacher at St. John-Sacred Heart School in Sherwood. She volunteers at the food pantry, leads the youth group and reaches out to those in difficult situations, leading them to community and parish resources. Gehl is the mother of four and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Clint, for 17 years this May. She also enjoys hiking, kayaking, road trips and playing board games with her family and friends.   

Barbara Heiges, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry

Heiges is the faith formation coordinator at her home parish of, St. Mary, Algoma, and is a supervisor at East Shore Industries in Algoma. She and her husband, Dennis, have been married 41 years. They have two children, Amanda and Ryan (Meg), and two granddaughters, Lainey and Addie. She volunteers as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and in many fundraisers for the parish community. Heiges enjoys camping and traveling with Dennis and the family dog, Remy. 

Meredith M. Lauer, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry

Lauer is the full-time religious education coordinator for grades 7-10, as well as the confirmation program coordinator at St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Neenah. She and her husband, Mike, live in Neenah with their five children and a three-legged cat. She and her family have been active members at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Neenah for 14 years. Lauer enjoys working with families and helping young people discover the joy of Jesus in everyday life. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends on Lake Winnebago. 

Kelly A. McKibben, Faith Formation and Youth Ministry

McKibben has served St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Waupaca as a coordinator of religious education since 2018. In addition to youth faith formation, she volunteers as a lector, cantor and extraordinary minister of holy Communion. McKibben and her husband, Nickolas, have been married 27 years and have two adult sons, Sean and Riley. Kelly’s previous employment was in the legal field for 20-plus years before answering the call to youth ministry. Her greatest joys are family and motherhood. McKibben also enjoys nature, gardening, music and sharing her cooking and baking with family and friends.