By Steve Neill Of The Catholic Virginian

Few people today would be familiar with the names Katharine Blodgett and Stephanie Kwolek, inventors who were successful as pioneers whose research led to scientific breakthroughs.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo mentioned these two women as examples of individuals who persevered in their work. He suggested that their spirit of seeking to make life better for people is similar to that of evangelists who go out and tell others about the Christian message of Jesus.

“What makes a person an inventor?” the Bishop asked in his homily at the commissioning of nine women as Lay Ecclesial Ministers June 10 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

All nine had successfully completed the Diocesan-sponsored Lay Ecclesial Ministry Institute through four years of formation which involved 10 courses. Eight received a Master‘s degree from St. Leo University.

The Bishop gave the example of Katharine Blodgett, a scientist with General Electric who worked with glass and lenses. Through her research she developed non-reflective glass.

Stephanie Kwolek, who worked at Dupont with synthetic fibers, developed Kevlar, used to make bullet-proof vests.

With the compassion of these nine newly commissioned Lay Ecclesial Ministers, Bishop DiLorenzo said they had “something of the same spirit” of inventors.

“They are driven to create, to bring something into existence which wasn’t there before,” he said.

“There is perhaps a curiosity and desire to make life easier and better,” he added.

“These folks here want to be evangelizers.

“The evangelizer wants to make life easier and better.”

With Jesus Christ as their life’s compassion, the Bishop said they will seek to help others become a new person in Christ.

“They bring into existence something that hasn’t existed before.

“They witness to Jesus,” he continued.

“They know themselves. They are realistic and have a sense of openness and welcome.

“They clearly live the life of Jesus and witness to that.

“They’re going to make life easier and better for those people who allow Jesus to enter their lives.”

The nine candidates were called forth for the Rite of Commissioning by Bernadette Harris, associate director of the Diocesan Office of Christian Formation.

They all are active in parish or Catholic school ministry.

“These candidates have been called and are gifted,” Mrs. Harris said. “They have spent the last four years nurturing their skills.”

The newly commissioned Lay Ecclesial Ministers are:

Joann Berrier, Campus Minister, St. Thomas More, Lynchburg, M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Tracy Brookmire, Director of Religious Education, Church of the Epiphany, Richmond; M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Heather Bryan, Special Education Teacher, Charlottesville Catholic School; M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Margaret Crews, OFC, Adult Faith Formation, St. Bede, Williamsburg; M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Sister Inma Cuesta, Comboni Missionary Sisters, Director of Office of Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of Richmond; M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Pamela Harris, Director, Office of Black Catholics; M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Janet Jones, Director of Religious Education, Church of the Ascension, Virginia Beach; M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Teresa Lee, Director of Evangelization, St. Mary, Richmond, M.A. in Theology, St. Leo University.

Ann Mattio, Youth Minister, St. Olaf, Williamsburg; Certificate in Youth Ministry and Certificate in Catechesis, Level 1, University of Dayton.