Bishop Joseph Kopacz has appointed Sheila Przesmicki Lay Ecclesial Minister of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church and Student Center, Booneville, as well as its mission, St. Mary, Iuka, effective April 1st. Sheila is a graduate student of LIMEX and will receive a Master degree in Pastoral Studies, with an emphasis in Small Christian Community Formation, in August, 2014.
In Mississippi, a Lay Ecclesial Minister (LEM) is a non-ordained man or woman appointed by the Bishop to administer to the pastoral care and needs of the people of God within a parish or mission. This person is responsible for the day-to-day ministry and operation of the parish or mission, and is assisted by a Priest Sacramental Minister who provides for the sacramental needs of the parish or mission. Both are under the supervision of a Priest Supervisor (canonical pastor). Ultimately all are answerable to the Bishop.
LEM’s have the regular administrative duties a pastor would normally have – such as presiding over the parish council and finance committee, maintaining sacramental records and serving as administrator of parish property. LEM’s are also empowered by the bishop of the diocese to preach the Word of God at a daily Communion service or at a Sunday service in the absence of a priest; and baptize in the absence of a priest, as well as coordinate and perform other sacramental and liturgical ministry.
As Pastoral Minister – one step down from an LEM in northeast Mississippi – at St. Francis, her base parish, since 2010, Sheila had already learned many of these duties on the job. But through her four years of studies in the LIMEX program, as well as some diocesan training, Sheila has acquired the background and knowledge to put these activities into practice from a spiritual perspective. She credits the course in Practical Theology with helping her to better understand herself and her role as a minister. Subsequent courses on the Scriptures have given her the confidence to give reflections during services, and facilitate discussions with her Bible study group.
Sheila enthusiastically promotes the LIMEX program to whoever will listen. “While there is always much more to learn,” she says, “These courses have given me the tools I need to know where to look for more information as I need it. And,” she adds, “LIMEX has given me a gift of understanding my faith like I’d never imagined – a gift I want to continue to share with my community.”