Registration for the next cycle of courses continues through July 4. The courses for that cycle begin on July 8 and end Aug. 11. To apply, register or for more information, visit the program’s website: vlc.udayton.edu or contact the Diocese of Orlando Office of Faith Formation at 407-246-4912.
Christine Stillings had been exploring a number of online learning programs to grow deeper in her own faith formation when she came across an experience offered by the University of Dayton in Ohio.
After hearing about it through the Diocese of Orlando website, and seeing firsthand the benefits of the courses offered, she felt compelled to participate.
“I decided to go ahead and explore and I liked what I saw,” said Stillings, the coordinator for adult faith formation for St. Augustine Parish in Casselberry. “So I went ahead and signed up.”
Recently, the Diocese of Orlando began a partnership with the University of Dayton to offer online courses for those in the Diocese to learn more about their faith. Currently, more than 40 dioceses around the U.S. are participating in the effort.
Known as the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), the program is an e-learning initiative which supports adult leadership formation in the Catholic Church. More than 60 courses and seminars are offered, with an emphasis on catechesis, Catholic doctrine, Church history, sacraments and prayer and social justice, among others. Each online course, led by a facilitator, runs for 3-6 weeks, and is capped at 15 participants. The courses involve a combination of reading, participation, assignments and tests, as well as interaction with the facilitator and other participants from around the world.
The partnership offers people another option on the path to the Diocesan Catechist Certification Program (DCCP), the faith formation program for those involved with religious education, Catholic schools, youth, young adult and adult ministry and Catechumenate. The classes are offered in English and Spanish.
The courses are not just for those ministering in the Church. Any parishioner is able to take a course; the University of Dayton said 65 percent of those taking courses are doing so on their own and not working toward any certification.
The courses are also cost effective. For those living in the Diocese of Orlando, the cost for a five-week course is $40, and the cost for a three-week seminar is $30.
Dennis Johnson Jr., senior director of faith formation for the Diocese of Orlando, has been instrumental in bringing the University of Dayton program to other dioceses in which he has worked. He said the courses help in obtaining certification for a number of ministries and that the program is another opportunity the Diocese of Orlando offers for those to form their faith deeper.
“I have tremendous confidence in what this program can do,” Johnson said. “This gives people another place at the table, where they can be drawn into their faith life and be formed and grow more deeply.”
Stillings said she has taken a seminar called Our Hearts Were Burning, which highlights the challenges and opportunities one can encounter in ministry with adults. She is already looking forward to taking additional courses and seminars.
“I plan to continue taking courses,” Stillings said. “For me, it’s an opportunity for me to go much deeper. I’m also looking to get adults in my parish involved, so they can take a new direction in their faith walk by taking these courses.”