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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Three students from the Peterson Space Force Base Chapel standing in front of a priest.

Military spiritual mentoring course soars to new heights with the VLCFF

The Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), a major initiative of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives (IPI), is thrilled to announce the success of a groundbreaking Catholic mentoring course for members of the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA called, “Spiritual Mentoring with the Military Services.”

This is in collaboration with the Department of Religious Studies' Masters in Pastoral Ministry Program. The brainchild of Suzy Streeter (retired Colonel of the U.S. Air Force), this program introduces military personnel to serve as spiritual mentors to their peers, blending the VLCFF's online platform with in-person classes for a comprehensive hybrid experience.

Creating unity between one’s professional and religious life can be a very relevant trial for a Catholic serving our country, and this course’s aim was to apply this concept within a mentoring relationship.

Mary Grier, a retired Master Sergeant of the U.S. Air Force, believes that “if people had a spiritual mentor, there may be a lot of individuals who would not leave their faith.” This was the hope of some mentees that were surveyed prior to the program: that their own faith could be strengthened by learning from the experiences and struggles of mentors with an outside perspective. These mentors act as a hand-to-hold when one navigates through the rigorous regimens of military life. Without a mentor, faith formation can oftentimes feel lonely. Streeter needed to create an avenue where service members could learn how to become a guide for those who want to bridge the gap between military and spiritual life. This is precisely what this program prepares them to become.

Streeter started this process in October 2021, envisioning a program that would eventually span all six military branches, starting with the Air Force, Navy and Army. In the fall of 2022, she pitched her idea to IPI Executive Director Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D. Min., and in June 2023, worked alongside IPI’s Robert Stewart to set up the VLCFF course.

Sister Angela recommended Streeter work in collaboration with Dr. Mark Moitoza, the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA’s Vice Chancellor for Evangelization. The VLCFF team created a special course tailored to meet the unique needs of military personnel, which became a central component of Suzy's practicum project for her Master's Degree in Pastoral Theology at the University of Dayton. We are proud to share that Suzy graduated from the University of Dayton in May 2024. She hopes her pastoral practicum experience will be implemented, with the support of the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA, around the world. 

The first pilot was conducted from mid-August to early September 2023, and was used to test training material and prepare for the course. The course itself lasted from October to November 2023, and the second pilot, which leveraged what the mentors had learned in the course, occurred January to March 2024. All received positive feedback from participants, demonstrating the program's effectiveness and potential for expansion. While Streeter awaits approval from the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA for a year-long pilot in 2025, the VLCFF will continue to support the spiritual growth of military personnel worldwide. The VLCFF also looks forward to building upon this success by working with Streeter and the Archdiocese of Military Services, USA, a proud partner of the VLCFF. 

This course is just one of the many exciting opportunities the VLCFF offers on the online, multi-language, educational platform and the functionality of services allows students to learn from wherever they’re at! This particular course hosted students from a variety of places, including the Peterson Space Force Base Chapel and the U.S. Army Fort Carson Chapel in Colorado. Below, are some of their students who completed this course. We are so amazed to see how God is working in these military circles! 

Students from Peterson Space Force Base Chapel(From left to right (front row): students Mary Grier, Carlos Montgomery, and Mark Sorapuru from the Our Lady of Peace Catholic Community at the Peterson Space Force Base Chapel) 

Students from U.S. Army Fort Carson Chapel(From left to right: students Maureen Combs, Joe Grande, Rexie Jones, and Miguel Resendiz from the Our Lady of Fort Carson Catholic Community at the U.S. Army Fort Carson Chapel)

Want to browse all the other courses the VLCFF has to offer right now? Visit and create a profile to register for only $50/per course in a partnering diocese. Cycle 5 is open for registration until July 10th! 

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