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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Online classes a blessing for busy lifestyles

By John LeComte

As a mother of five, Maureen Finnegan Scoggin understands the meaning of ‘busy.’

“I volunteer for many of my children's activities,” Finnegan Scoggin said. “One of those happens to be religious education.”

Beverly Fox has two children and two grandchildren. 

 “I quickly discovered that having my grandchildren stay for a week does not make for a very conducive study environment,” Fox said, adding an lol. 

Both women volunteer for their parishes and were recently recognized during the Archdiocese of Atlanta's annual Parish Catechetical Leaders (PCL) awards ceremony. These women and several other catechists completed certificate programs through the University of Dayton's Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), which provides year-round online classes. 

“Being a mom, I really enjoyed the flexibility of the online environment,” said Finnegan Scoggin. “One thing about the VLCFF is the staff and facilitators are encouraging and understanding of life's obstacles. The facilitators work with you and check in on you.”

Fox says the online discussion boards made a huge difference in her faith formation.

"Discussing and networking with my cohort helped cement my formation," she said. "I was able to take all the information presented to me and process it along with my virtual classmates."

Students can choose to complete e-courses of interest or follow specialized VLCFF Certificate Program tracks. VLCFF classes are asynchronous, allowing participants to learn on their time and complete assignments on their time. Although sometimes that's a challenge. 

“Some weeks were easy, and, other times, I struggled to submit my assignments by the midnight deadline,” said Finnegan Scoggin, who completed a total of eight courses to earn a Certificate in Catechesis Level I and Level II.

“There were times when I submitted assignments a few minutes before the deadline,” said Fox, who completed the VLCFF Youth Ministry program. “I also  asked for an extension on other assignments and the VLCFF was there to support me.”

Through the VLCFF’s online classes, PCLs are equipped to become better leaders by focusing on four key areas: administrator, professional catechist, spiritual leader and community builder. Fox and Finnegan Scoggin say the VLCFF platform made it possible for them to continue their education. Now they want to share knowledge of the Catholic faith with others. 

“Being a catechist is living our truth and opening our hearts to hear God's call,” Finnegan Scoggin said.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta partners with the VLCFF to provide online faith formation for catechists, teachers and anybody interested in deepening their faith. Contact your diocese for details or go to For a schedule and list of classes, click here.

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