By Celine Klosterman
After graduating in the 1990s from the Davenport Diocese’s Ministry Formation Program, which trains lay Catholics for ministry, Dixie Booten felt ready to learn even more.
“I so enjoyed MFP; I told them that if they offered anything else, to let me know,” she said. “Then they came up with the catechetical track.”
She signed up the first year the diocese offered that specialization, in 2000. “I put what I learned into practice right away because I’d been volunteering at church as helper for the coordinator of religious education.” Thanks in part to her MFP education, Booten said, she’s now director of religious education for parishes in West Point, Farmington, St. Paul and Houghton.
In the catechetical courses, “We learned so many things and got ideas that we could use not just with kids, but with all ages and aspects of parish ministry.”
The diocese hopes more Catholics learn as much when it offers MFP’s catechetical track this fall for the first time in years. That track is designed to help parish and school leaders better understand the dynamics of faith development, choose the best materials and methodology for faith formation programs, and design opportunities such as retreats, days of reflection and adult studies. “Participants will be better able to put together a comprehensive catechetical plan for their parish or school,” IlaMae Hanisch said. She is coordinator of adult and family formation and lay ministry for the diocese.
Four courses in the catechetical specialization will be available online and on-demand for the first time, which Hanisch hopes makes the track easier for busy Catholics to complete. Participants will take the courses through the University of Dayton, a Catholic institution.
The yearlong catechetical track also requires four in-person practicums, three of which will take place during the summer.
Directors of religious education must complete the catechetical program, Hanisch said. People interested in the pastoral associate or parish life coordinator specializations of MFP must take it, too.
But leaders of confirmation teams, school principals and teachers of religion in Catholic schools also have finished it. Those Catholics — and the people they minister to — can benefit from updated training, she said.
Sharon Crall, a graduate of MFP’s catechetical track, agrees. “I’m someone who wants to be sure she’s offering sound teaching, doing it the way it should be done in the Church, and staying current,” she said. She ministers in several pastoral and catechetical roles at St. Mary Parish in Albia and St. Patrick Parish in Georgetown.
Courses such as those in MFP have helped her especially in discovering new resources for ministry and learning how to better use familiar resources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, she said.
“I understand my faith so much better as a result of going through MFP,” said Kent Ferris, a member of Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine who graduated from the two-year basic program in 2009.
Especially valuable was a field experience opportunity in the ministry of social action, said Ferris, who began serving as the diocese’s social action director three years ago.
“This course of study makes you more open to the Holy Spirit. It allows you to better understand how you can live your faith. We get so caught up in our day-to-day routines; we need time to be able to step back, pause and reflect, and hear things in a different way.”
If you make time to know and understand your faith better through offerings like MFP, you’ll have a better foundation in which to work, Ferris said.
For Roberta Pegorick, who recently finished the parish life coordinator track and completed the catechetical track in 2003, the best part of MFP is building relationships. An assignment for which she worked with another participant last year “was a great opportunity for collaboration and to get some fresh ideas.”
“I would highly recommend the catechetical track and often do to others who I think may be interested,” said Pegorick, director of religious education for Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire and Holy Family Parish in Davenport. “All the tracks are a lot of work, but you get back more than you could ever give.”
The Ministry Formation Program year two basic track (available in English or Spanish) and the catechetical track will begin Oct. 6 with a retreat and commissioning at St. James Church in Washington. Cost for each of the four online courses in the catechetical specialization is $40. Application forms and costs for the catechetical practicums and for the basic track will be available this month at www.davenportdiocese.org. Click on Chancery, then Faith Formation, then Lay Ministry (MFP).