What is the Institute?
In response to the Diocese of Bridgeport Fourth General Synod, The Leadership Institute was founded to serve as the center for formation in the diocese. Its mission is to foster encounters with Jesus Christ through ongoing formation. The Institute is a place where people who serve in ministry – and any adult who wishes to learn more about his/her faith – can gather virtually and in person to learn more and, in turn, serve others more effectively.
When will the Institute start?
The Institute will officially launch during Evening Prayer on January 11, 2017. This event will take place at 7 pm at Assumption parish in Westport, CT. All are welcome to join together for this event as we pray the Institute into existence.
Who is the Institute for?
Those who answer the call to ministry also answer the challenge to be lifelong learners. Therefore, all those who serve in any ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport are invited to participate in the Institute. As the Institute grows, so will its audience. In the beginning years of the Institute, those who serve as catechists, youth ministry volunteers, and those in liturgical roles will play a special part in getting the Institute up and running. Every year, more and more ministerial roles will be added. In the meantime, anyone who wishes to learn more about their faith can join the Institute at any time.
What is required of me?
To paraphrase Bishop Frank Caggiano, the Institute will begin with the willing. To that end, nothing is mandated at this point. Those in ministry will initially be invited to remember their call to continued education as part of their response to serve in a ministry setting. Eventually, participation in the Institute will become commonplace for those who serve our local church.
How much does it cost?
Initially, the Institute will be free. After the initial growing pains and once the kinks are worked out of the system, the suggested participation costs could be something like this:
$10/year for liturgical ministers in the Diocese of Bridgeport
$20/year for catechetical ministers and youth ministry volunteers and staff in the Diocese of Bridgeport (often paid for by a parish or school on behalf of the volunteers)
$25/year for those not currently serving in ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport
$30/year for those who reside and serve in ministry outside the Diocese of Bridgeport
These are only proposed prices. The Institute advisory board will establish the price points down the road.
How do I register?
Anyone who wishes to participate in the Institute may register online at formationreimagined.org. The registration process is brief and self-explanatory.
What does the logo mean?
For generations, stained glass has been used in churches around the world to tell the story of salvation. Inspired by this tradition, the logo for The Leadership Institute of the Diocese of Bridgeport embodies the humility and devotion of its participants. At its center is a dark orange cross pattée, symbolizing the Christian faith. Surrounding the cross are symmetrical shapes colored in our two accent colors, midnight blue and pale turquoise. These colors express wisdom and stability and work to bring the cross into full view. The shapes all point towards the cross, representing that all things lead to Christ. At the same time, four additional orange shapes extend out from the cross, reminding us of our own mission to spread the message of the cross and the hope of the Resurrection to the world. The contents of the logo gather together to form a circle, signifying a unity forged in worship, love, and community.
What is a module?
A module, by definition, is an independent unit that can be used to construct a more complex structure. For the purposes of the Institute, a module is made up of three parts: Encounter, Formation, Discipleship. Each module will include an introduction and overview, a video presentation and readings, and reflection questions that invite participants to connect what they have learned with the ministry they have been called to share. In some cases, many modules will make up a course. In other cases, one module may be all you need on a particular topic.
What about certification?
Certification often includes a beginning and an end and once someone is certified, that person might be tempted to stop learning. But we see things a little differently. Nearly all professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, even professional meeting planners) have to continue to learn to keep their skills sharp and knowledge current. We believe those being served by our ministry leaders deserve the same. So, while certification is not offered through the Institute, you may receive a certificate of completion for individual modules. Your learning, however, continues for as long as you serve as a ministry leader. (It’s called lifelong learning for a reason!)
What’s the Inventory?
The Inventory is a series of questions and statements that is made available when someone first enters the Institute. The goal of the Inventory is to provide participants with a series of choices that identify suggested modules for study. Since everyone arrives to the Institute with their own unique gifts, educational background, and experience in formation, the Inventory helps people to identify what they know from they would like to learn.
What about all the work I previously accomplished?
This is why we believe the Inventory is so brilliant. No matter what courses or workshops you have taken or what degrees you have, everyone starts with the Inventory. The answers you submit will forge a personalized learning path, with modules recommended based on the choices you make. Everyone brings different gifts and learning experiences to the table, and the needs of one person in ministry are different than the needs of another, so why should all the learning paths be the same?
Why is the Inventory required?
Everyone brings their own gifts to the table. In the same way, participants in ministry throughout the diocese have experienced various kinds of formation. So that everyone participating in the Institute gets “credit” for the knowledge they bring to ministry, the Institute is required. This tool is designed to help participants map the learning path that best represents the knowledge and experience of the individual learning. Requiring everyone to complete the Inventory on an annual basis allows the learning paths to change as we grow in wisdom and understanding?
How often do I need to complete the Inventory?
Participation in the Institute requires that you complete the Inventory upon enrollment and every year on or near your enrollment anniversary. Doing so allows you to update your learning path as you grow in knowledge and experience.
What if I am already in school?
Good for you. You are more than welcome to participate in the Institute regardless of whether you are in school. You are also welcome to use the courses you take in school as the “Encounter” and “Formation” pieces of modules and then log in to your account and post reflections (“Discipleship”) about what you are learning so that your mentor might comment and make suggestions for future learning opportunities.
Will courses only be online?
No. Throughout the year, the Institute will partner with other diocesan organizations and offer workshops and courses. In addition, the Institute offers seasonal (Advent, Lent) opportunities to learn more about the Catholic faith, as well as various series throughout the year.
Who reads my reflections?
Your reflections (the “Discipleship” component for each module) will be read by the assigned mentor for each module. This person will have both ministry experience and experience with the topic covered in the module. Their job is the read your reflection and comment, not criticize. The whole process is aimed at helping the participants become more effective in a particular ministry. We believe it will benefit participants to have a conversation with those who wish to share their lifetime of experience.
Will modules be available in languages other than English?
Yes. Our aim is to offer some modules is Spanish and other modules with subtitles in Vietnamese, Portuguese, as well as Spanish.
Will my parish make a computer available?
We will strongly encourage parishes to make a learning station available for those who do not have a computer.
How can a parish use the online modules?
We hope that parishes will use the modules within face to face gatherings. For instance, if a parish leader is having a meeting with all lectors, catechists, etc. that leader could share the Encounter portion of the module and then show the video, which makes up most of the Formation portion of the module. Then, upon returning home, participants can log in and post their reflections to wrap up their participation in that particular module.
Can we do the modules as groups?
Absolutely. Couples can work on modules together. Parish groups can work on modules together. Even friends can gather together and participate in the module. The only portion of a module that must be completed alone is the reflection, which can be posted online or submitted via US Mail for those without computer access.
Is there a time limit to finish a module?
We think it works best for participants if modules are completed within 30 days of beginning. Otherwise, you may find that you need to start over.
Is it safe? Is my information private?
The Leadership Institute is committed to your online safety and privacy. We will never sell or give away your personal information and will only use your email address to contact you for upcoming events or our virtual newsletter. Our content delivery partner, Edvance360 is equally committed to your online safety and uses the industry standard encryption on its site.
How will the diocese keep track of this participation?
Every participant has his/her own e-portfolio that contains all your reflections, course completion certificates, and badges. Anyone assigned as a local leader in a parish can log on and see how someone is progressing in the Institute. The system will keep track of your participation for you.
Is there a required minimum amount of participation?
Initially, the Institute is simply inviting those in ministry to participate at their leisure. In time, participation may become mandatory and minimum requirements might be put in place. For now, just enjoy exploring the modules we offer.
What does the phrase "all who minister" mean?
The short answer is this: If you have been asked by someone in authority in a parish to serve your parish in a particular way, you are included. In addition, anyone who wishes to learn more about his/her faith are welcome to participate in Institute offerings.