In the year of his Silver Jubilee, Bishop Gerald Barnes is being honored nationally for one of the hallmarks of his Episcopacy – lay formation.
On June 2, Bishop Barnes will receive the Gaudium et Spes Award from the National Association for Lay Ministry. This honor is given to one who promotes understanding of the Church in the world within the context of the Second Vatican Council. It is named for one of the four pastoral constitutions that emerged from Vatican II, addressing the relationship between the Church and society. Promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1965, it called for greater involvement of the laity in the carrying out of Church ministry.
The Diocese of San Bernardino has built a national reputation for lay formation, largely through the flagship Ministry Formation Institute. Reflecting recently on the high points of his 25-year Episcopacy, Bishop Barnes listed the expansion of diocesan programs to form the laity.
“You see new volunteers, you see people who were hesitant about going into formation programs, how they are now responding to them, how we’re developing people to meet different needs,” Bishop Barnes said. “Those are the satisfying things when people come up and say, ‘Bishop, thank you for the formation programs.’ I get that all the time.”
The National Association for Lay Ministry has recognized the Diocese’s ministerial achievement in lay formation in the past, giving the Gaudium et Spes Award to Bishop Phillip Straling, the founding bishop of the Diocese. He set the Diocese on its path of strong lay formation with the Straling Institute and the Department of Education and Catechesis for Hispanics (DECH).