The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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February 23, 2001 Issue
Local News

Pastoral associate answers Lord's call

Joan Bartman of St. Margaret Mary Parish, Neenah, likes challenge

Fourth in a series on the annual Bishop's Appeal

By Joanne Flemming
Compass Correspondent

Bishop's Appeal

What: Bishop's Appeal, the Green Bay Diocese's annual fund-raiser to support diocesan programs and services offered to parishes and individuals.

Where: All parishes in the diocese.

When: Right now.

How: Making a cash, check or pledge donation. Materials have been sent to homes and also are available through parishes.

Theme: Summoned to Serve.

Target: $4.1 million.

When the Lord called Joan Bartman of Appleton to pastoral ministry, she said she answered, "Here I am," just as Samuel did when he was called to be a prophet.

Bartman, a pastoral associate at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Neenah, believes she has always had a call to ministry, but was only able to answer it 15 years ago.

She was a volunteer at St. Bernard Parish in Appleton, when the pastoral associate there gave her a brochure on the Green Bay Diocese's Commissioned Ministry program, which receives funding from the Bishop's Appeal to train lay ministers and deacons to serve in parishes.

"That was the Spirit of God at work, I think," said Bartman.

She attended Commissioned Ministry classes to prepare her to enter the master's program in theological studies at St. Norbert College. She was commissioned as a pastoral minister in 1989 and received her master's degree in 1995.

Her first job as a pastoral associate was in De Pere at St. Boniface Parish, which has since merged with St. Joseph Parish to become Our Lady of Lourdes.

Bartman called her position a "wonderful beginning" to her ministry as a pastoral associate - a position whose responsibilities vary in each parish.

The variety is what she likes best - "working with, ministering with and to people in many different situations in life (and) the depth of those situations as well."

In De Pere, she helped start the human concerns committee, which ministered to people in the parish and community. She also ministered to the sick, homebound and persons in nursing homes.

After six years in De Pere, she was ready for a full-time challenge. She found that challenge at St. Margaret Mary, a larger parish, where the job description was similar, except "there was more to each area of the job" and "good opportunities to involve parishioners in the projects."

She speaks with pride about the St. Margaret Mary human concerns committee and how it has expanded its work in the last five years. One new area is a meal ministry. Volunteers make and deliver meals to people during illnesses or after a baby's birth or a death.

She's pleased with the parish's decision to tithe 2% of the weekend collections to the human concerns committee to help people in the parish, the community and beyond. The parish has adopted a Native American family on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

In both De Pere and Neenah, she has enjoyed leading prayer and reflections on Scripture.

Bartman said her love of people, sense of compassion and ability to listen have helped her in her ministry.

"I see myself as being compassionate. I've lived through some hard things in my own life. I think you become more compassionate and become less judgmental," she said. "I think I have some gifts of listening to others, of hearing what is deep inside. I like being with people ... the recognition that all of us have gifts and that God is at work in each life."

She said the commissioned ministry program helped her develop these gifts by giving her "a good foundation in basic theology." It also opened her to a network of people from across the diocese to whom she can turn when she needs help or has questions.

This networking has opened up other ministry opportunities for her, including leading retreats at Holy Name Retreat House on Chambers Island and serving on its advisory committee. She is enrolled in a three-year program at the Norbertine Spirituality Center to become a spiritual director.

Bartman has served as a sponsor for commissioned ministry students and last year taught a class for the program. She also is a member of the pastoral associate organization.

There are 124 students in the Commissioned Ministry program and 15 will be commissioned this spring, for a total of 137 persons commissioned.

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