Faith Formation in the New Millennium

John Yaquinta

DAYTON - Have you heard about the Koinonia lay ministry classes being held around the Diocese? Is your own parish hosting them but you just do not have the time to attend? Are you a catechist with the desire to learn more about your faith and become certified, but just do not have the time or energy to go out another night of the week to attend a class? Are you at the point in your spiritual life where you could use a boost, but the classes are not held at a site or time that is convenient for you?

Well, the Diocese has some good news for you! You can now attend classes on-line through the Virtual Learning Center of the University of Dayton. These five-week sessions are set up with active person in mind. Each class is capped at 12 participants. Once you enroll in the course, instructions are sent concerning what steps to take next. Basic Internet access skills are required. Participants will follow links to download course material and participate in class discussions via a bulletin board type interface.

Here's an example. There are five sessions per course and each session must be completed in a seven-day period. Each week participants first take a preliminary test. This test is composed of 3 to 5 multiple choice questions. Once you select your answers, you click on the submit button and your test is sent to the teacher to review. The teacher then sends back comments on any incorrect answers.

The next step is to read a discussion question and post your response on the bulletin board. These questions are geared toward getting your thought process pointing toward what the specific lesson is about. Then, the participant downloads the required reading for the session. This material is usually an article or two on the subject, no more than 20 pages.

After reading the material, the participant responds to another discussion question on the bulletin board. Some classes have an additional activity for you to do off-line to enrich your knowledge.

Finally, the participant takes a test on the session. This test is usually an essay question (or two) requiring you to write a few paragraphs and the responses are only seen by the facilitator. Again, the facilitator responds to your test privately.

One of the great things about these classes is that after you respond to the discussion questions, you can go back and read other participants responses and add more questions or comments. It is a wonderful learning environment for all those in the class.

Isabel Redling, from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Huntington, is enrolled in the program to "increase my knowledge of my faith to assist me in teaching RCIA classes which I have been doing for the past 13 years." Isabel enjoyed the class on Jesus very much saying, "It was a very deep and enriching class."

Bridget Harbert, director of Religious Education at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Stonewood, says she enrolled in the program to learn more about the Catholic faith and the Bible. Bridget said, "I love the online class Catholic Beliefs. It allowed me the freedom to come and go as my time schedule allowed."

John Yaquinta, the youth director at All Saints Parish in Bridgeport, says that the classes are ideal for him. "I'm the father of two active teenagers, as well as youth director of a large parish. There just isn't one night a week I can consistently give to anyone. So, the online courses are great because I can steal a few minutes here and there throughout the week and complete the session on my own time. The course is better than reading books on your own because you have 12 other people to discuss your thoughts and feelings. It's very enlightening."

Currently the following topics are being offered: Catholic Beliefs, Church History, Jesus, Sacraments, Scripture (both Old and New Testament classes), Media and Moral Imagination. Participants that enroll in the Koinonia program and then enroll in a VLC class will only be billed for half of the $40 fee per class. For more information contact Catechectical Ministries at 223-0880, x300, or send email to Cheryl Fournier at cfournier@dwc.org or http://www.udayton.edu/~vlc/.