By Elizabeth Cortez
As with most aspects of practicing our faith, COVID-19 has required dramatic change for the Parish Ministers Formation Program (PMFP) that is offered by the Ministry Formation Institute. Through it all, our faith and hope increased as the MFI team worked together to implement our programs in a new method of teaching/learning.
With quick thinking and teamwork, student formation initially carried on using email and the telephone. After a brief time, PMFP began to use Zoom to deliver training to students online. Our first “Called to Serve” Retreats using ZOOM were held during the months of June and July and were a great success.
PMFP Coordinator Cristina Castillo was instrumental in the transition to technology-based instruction, using her skills in this area to help prepare instructors for our PMFP summer pilot program which began on May 30. Currently, 107 students from across all six vicariates of the Diocese are attending PMFP online. There are even a couple of people from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Diocese participating.
Below are comments from some of our students who are currently in our summer program.
“The PMFP Zoom classes have been such a blessing to attend; from cradle Catholics to converts, it is filled with multi-generational perspectives and people from all different parts on their faith journey. Despite being online due to COVID, we have all forged friendships as together we have all laughed, cried, prayed, been vulnerable, encouraged, and inspired one another.”
—Susan Toledo, St. Andrew Newman Center, Riverside (attending Monday morning cohort)
“… I had regularly been encouraged to take the diocesan PMFP course, but I could never seem to have a clear schedule for the dates offered… I once again looked into it and discovered that, due to the pandemic, the course was now going to be offered virtually through Zoom. What a blessing! I have been delighted to be able to experience this opportunity for personal growth and a deeper understanding of my faith. I truly believe it will aid me in serving my parish and diocese more effectively, as I gather insights and ideas with every session. Our instructors are welcoming and supportive, and I love the virtual “community” that is being formed between my fellow classmates and me. I highly recommend signing up for the next session!”
—Maria McAfee, St. Joseph, Upland (attending Monday morning cohort)
“PMFP Wow! It is what I expected and more. The facilitators and teachers have done a great job in presenting the material in a very easy and engaging way. I had my doubts regarding meetings via Zoom, for I am a people person. However, the meetings have been planned and managed very well. I have enjoyed meeting everyone and sharing some of our life experiences together during our small group sessions. If this course is an indication of how the rest of the courses are, I cannot wait for what is ahead.”
—Jorge Alvarado, St. Oscar Romero, Eastvale (attending Monday evening cohort)
Elizabeth Cortez is a Parish Ministry Formation Program (PMFP) Coordinator for the Diocese of San Bernardino.