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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

A Lasting Impression

Marie-Hélène and Oliver Stuckey from Heidelberg, Germany, discuss their faith journey with the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives’ Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation. (VLCFF)

Marie-Hélène: Grüße aus Deutschland! (Greetings from Germany)

Oliver: Guten Tag! (Good day)

Marie-Hélène: I grew up in France. My late uncle, Fr. Pierre Babin, was a member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and the founder of the Centre for Research and Education in Communication (CREC-AVEX) which trains people to use media for evangelization. My uncle’s visits to my parents were always enjoyable, largely because he often arrived with students or teachers from around the world. 

During one of his trips, my husband and I met visiting professor Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, the current Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives.   

Decades later, I was searching for online courses in adult faith formation in Germany and couldn’t find any. Then, I remembered Sister Angela Ann from the University of Dayton. A few clicks on the internet led me to the VLCFF.  

The VLCFF program really prepares me to think about offerings that respond to the diversity of needs, experiences, ways of thinking and learning that Catholic adults may have. The materials and exercises from the five courses I have completed so far, as well as the exchanges with other global adult students, and the facilitator’s (instructor) guidance, has been inspiring and provided new ideas. By small touches, through a comment or a sentence in a document, I progress, I clarify my thoughts, I imagine and I prepare myself to serve. I love this enriching experience of learning with and from others. And my enthusiasm is contagious. 

Oliver: Yes, indeed it is contagious. I retired last year from a very busy job, working in the Czech Republic and traveling throughout Europe and abroad. Suddenly with much more free time, and seeing my wife enjoying her courses with the VLCFF, I decided, as a converted Catholic since 2007, to start learning more about my faith.  I must admit that apart from the Sunday readings I had not yet read a lot in the Bible. So, I started with the Bible Basics course. The course really sparked my interest for the scriptures and opened new horizons. Introduction to Scripture and Old Testament followed, and I look forward to the next course, the New Testament! 

Marie-Hélène: We wish the University of Dayton VLCFF was more known in Germany and in other European countries (many people are fluent in English). Learning in an international environment is so enriching. I found the perfect curriculum for me, the certificate in Adult Formation Leadership. It appealed to me because I see a great need for Catholic adult faith formation in Germany, a need to deepen and better understand the faith and to learn to transmit it. I desire to set up offerings for adults in parishes in my area near Heidelberg, but I am aware that it requires more in-depth training on my side.

Oliver: I started telling everybody about the need to give such classes to every adult catholic in Germany. I believe that a basic knowledge of the scriptures and the history around them as well is a must to be able to understand what we believe in. And, I see myself slowly becoming able to start a small Bible study group in our parish.

Marie-Hélène: I believe my uncle would be delighted that, in our own way, we are continuing his work. I would have to say, Sister Angela Ann has made a lasting impression.

The VLCFF online is year-round, with three- and five-week courses in English, Spanish and Arabic, offering certificate programs, diaconate courses and more. See the schedule and list of courses. CREC Founder Fr. Pierre Babin, OMI (1925-2012) an author and researcher, taught at universities around the world his innovative new approach to catechesis in the media age.

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