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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Hispanic Virtual Learning Community grows in faith and numbers

More than 3,000 Hispanic students across the world, lay and consecrated, connect online for adult faith formation through the Institutes’ Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF). There are more than 57 online courses in Spanish with four certificates available year-round. 

Recent Hispanic projects at the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives include a new partnership with Catholic Extension, which works in America’s poorest regions to build up vibrant and transformative Catholic faith communities, as well as the implementation of a group from Brazil taking online courses on the Marianist charism.

VLCFF en Español provides a solid foundation for ongoing adult faith formation classes online, as well as promoting youth, young adult and adult leadership at parishes and dioceses and empowering clergy and lay ministers with multicultural skills and competencies to improve their successful performance in their different ministries as Christian leaders.

“We seek to transform parishes into places of communion and service,” said Liliana P. Montoya, M.DIV.,  Hispanic program director for the Institute.

“Facilitating fruitful, intercultural dialogue enriches integration, communication and cultural immersion. For example, our partnership with Catholic Extension allows us to provide formation of the nuns who then provide pastoral support in the United States.”

In addition to Montoya, the Institute’s Spanish team consists of Cristina Ryan, a full-time administrative assistant, and 30 Hispanic facilitators and students who add their talents to the programs.

Aside from student growth in the online programs and increased course design, the VLCFF en Español has increased membership from new dioceses located in Latin America and worldwide. Also, the VLCFF currently offers deacon formation, as in the case of the Diocese of San Angelo, Texas, which was able to provide formation in Spanish for four ordained deacons. 

Montoya says current online courses supporting diaconal formation reach students in the United States, Chile, Venezuela, Honduras, Colombia, México and Puerto Rico. There are also partnerships with the Diocese of San José, Calif., which allows VLCFF’s virtual formation to expand to the west coast of the United States. 

Exposure to multiple contexts and realities of pastoral ministry has allowed the VLCFF en Español to design and implement innovative and relevant courses that directly support Hispanic ministry such as  Emotional Intelligence for Pastoral Ministry, Praying with the Holy Scriptures, English for Pastoral Care in the United States States, Human Development and Spirituality, Paths to Better Know the Directory for Catechesis, among many others. In addition, there are four certificates. Certification in Catechesis, Certification in Foundations for Leadership in Ministry, Certification in Missionary Ministry and Bilingual Certification Program in the Ministry of the Missionary Disciple are available, and we are in the process of designing a certification in Sacred Scripture and Family Ministry.

So, what does the future hold?

The VLCFF en Español will continue working to increase registration by 20% this year. Similarly, we are supporting new local initiatives at the institute, including an in-person formation program for Hispanic leaders from Immaculate Conception and St. Mary parishes in Dayton, OH.

Spanish programs seek financial support to provide scholarships for those participants that qualify. Contact Liliana Montoya for details. To learn more about our Spanish-language programs, check out and see a list of online courses and programs here.

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