The “I’s” had it as about 60 parish staff members from southern Vermont gathered for a retreat May 1 at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Ludlow.

Deacon Phil Lawson, executive director of evangelization, catechesis, divine worship, marriage and family and respect life for the Diocese of Burlington, spoke about the “Challenges to Joyful Ministry.” These he identified as individualism, identity and intensity.

The first, he said, can cause people to guard their personal freedom even though “we are made for others.” Identity can be a challenge when persons become embarrassed about their relationship with Christ and uncomfortable with who they are and what they do. And intensity requires persons to take time and let themselves be reinvigorated, he explained.

Deacon Lawson told the parish employees and volunteers that it is their privilege and responsibility to be the face of the parish and not to let individualism, identity and intensity inhibit them from working as joyful ministers in the Church.

Responding to those three “I’s,” Josh Perry, director of worship for the Diocese, called for another I: integration.

He said work and volunteerism for the Church are “bound up” in the minsters’ role as human beings. “Our job as ministers does not end when we leave the church,” he said. “Our church work is not separate from the rest of our lives.”

He said they must integrate being the “face of Christ” as ministers in the Church with other vocations like those of spouse and parent.

Among those in attendance at the retreat were extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, parish council members, catechists, music ministers, lectors, usher/greeters and administrative assistants.

In addition to the talks by Deacon Lawson and Perry, the day-long event included a talk by Lori Daudelin, administrative assistant in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, on “Practicing Joyful Ministry: The Practicals.”

Michael Hagan, coordinator of religious education and catechesis for the Diocese of Burlington, lead the Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) and explained that it involved reading from scripture, reflection, prayer and contemplation.

Before lunch participants had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and have individual prayer time in adoration. The retreat ended with Mass.

The retreat, titled “Laetare Living: Joy in Ministry,” had been offered to parish ministers in the northern part of the Diocese earlier this year in Hinesburg.