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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Connecting with Middle Eastern Catholics

By John LeComte

Adult students in the Middle East are embracing their faith and actively engaging in the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives online courses through the VLCFF (Virtual Learning Community for Faith formation).

The VLCFF has been serving these communities for 12 years with courses in English and Spanish, but the goal now is expanding e-courses available in Arabic.

“These added online courses in Arabic are a blessing for Arabic speaking Christian communities,” said Catherine Miles-Flynn, director of the office of Christian formation in AVOSA (Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia) serving UAE, Oman and Yemen.

“Throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, and in the war torn countries of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, we have already had participants in the VLCFF courses."

In Lebanon, Bishop Joseph Naffah said these online e-courses provide Christian formation for Arabic parishioners. 

“This Dayton program (VLCFF) allows for a community of learners who are eager to learn about religion and help each other to grow in faith,” said Naffah, who has also guides students through many of the Arabic courses as a facilitator (instructor)

There are currently three Catholic courses translated into Arabic.

  • Catholic Beliefs  مدخل إلى الايمان المسيحي
  • Catechism Seminar 1.1: طرق التعليم المسيحي 1: ما هو التعليم المسيحي؟
  • Catechism Seminar 1.2: طرق التعليم المسيحي 2: دعوة معلم التعليم 

In Dubai, Fr. Tanios Geagea has been serving Arabic and French communities for nearly two decades. 

“The VLCFF online program in Arabic offers Catholics here in United Arab Emirates and other countries an opportunity to practice their faith,” Geagea said. “It also gives non-Christians a chance to learn about our religion and faith."

In Abu Dhabi, Bishop Paul Hinder says it will be helpful to continue to build on the early success of this program.

“The online courses offered by University of Dayton VLCFF have been well received and appreciated over the past decade,” he said. “The goal will be to have a full and comprehensive formation program for Arabic speaking catechists and other lay faithful.”

Classes start October 10, 2021.

 تبدأ الدورات الدراسية في 10 تشرين الأول 2021 

The plan is to create 10 additional courses in Arabic. For more information on the Arabic program and donation opportunities, contact Laura Franklin.

To register for an online class in one of three languages, go to and create a profile under the log in link. Courses cost just $10 a week for a 5-week course in a partnering diocese.

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