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IPI & UAE: A Heavenly Match

By Dr. Dorothy Mensah-Aggrey

Following my Saturday class of Forum for Young Catechetical Leaders, I rushed out of Curran Place and drove to the airport headed for the United Arab Emirates.  My week long trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai was four-fold: to meet with the Arabic-speaking community, the Catholic School teachers, catechists, and catechetical leaders. 

Kate Miles-Flynn, the Director of the Faith Formation program in the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia (AVOSA) upon seeing me, said, “The Arabic group of catechists and translators are eagerly awaiting your visit.” 

Great!  (I blurted out)

I was equally eager to meet this wonderful group of people who had just assisted the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives (IPI) in accomplishing another first…online faith formation in Arabic! 

IPI’s Virtual Learning for Faith Formation (VLCFF) has pioneered so many “firsts” so this new venture should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with our VLCFF.UDayton.edu platform.

Kate and Fr. Tanios Geagea, the priest in charge of the Arabic and French communities,set this initiative in motion with Sr. Angela Ann a few years ago.  It took several people to eventually translate text, powerpoints, and videos in order to make this happen. Marie Sewaya, and Catherine Sabbagh dove right in translating the first course, Catholic Beliefs.  

It was a huge success!

To say that the group is eager would be an understatement! Catechists and translators alike were thrilled that UD’s Institute for Pastoral Initiatives had taken the initiative (no pun intended) to collaborate with catechists and translators in the gulf regarding evangelization. 

The meeting was quite animated.  Here are some of their comments:

"It was so convenient!  I could take my lunch break and type on my phone."

"We understood each other in deeper ways through the discussion boards. :

"My faith has deepened."

"This online course allowed for expressions which otherwise may not have happened if the course had been face-to-face."

"Please translate more courses for us!"

IPI partners with AVOSA, offering what they need, and creating varied leadership and spiritual formation opportunities for them, providing a "heavenly match."

The VLCFF distance learning program (VLCFF.UDayton.edu)  offers over 100 course subjects in English,Spanish, and now, Arabic, with 5-week e-courses or 3-week e-seminars.  Check out the course list.   HR covers the cost of courses for university faculty/staff and alumni can pay the reduced rate of $50 for a 5-week course.  Contact our office at 1-888-300-8436.

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