What is the Ministry Formation program?

A two-year formation program, offered in English and Spanish, for any adult Catholics who want to:

    • offer leadership in an area of ministry
    • deepen spiritual awareness
    • enhance theological knowledge
    • develop pastoral skills for a particular area of ministry

You and your parish benefit from the Ministry Formation Program!  Well trained lay ministers will promote the Gospel and encourage the involvement of others! 


Class of 2023 Testimonials

Class of 2021 Testimonials

Classes meet each year from September through May on nine Saturdays (9am-12:30pm), and nine weeknights (7pm-9pm). Sessions include:
Faith Development, Sacraments, Prayer, Leadership Skills, Old and New Testament, Communications Skills, Theology of Ministry, Theology of Church, Apologetics, Morality, Christology, Church History, Social Justice, Evangelization. The program includes a Specialization Day (March) and a Retreat Day (May) each year. The same track is offered in English and Spanish.

Most sessions involve some required reading for preparation and written reflections after the class has been completed.  Periodic meetings with a Sponsor give candidates an opportunity to fully assimilate and integrate their learning experiences. A Retreat is an important part of each year.

The overall formation process provides candidates with opportunities to grow through prayer, theological reflection, critical analysis and problem solving, discussion and presentations by qualified adult religious educators using an Adult Model of education.

The Adult Model recognizes that an adult learner is self-directed, highly motivated and responsible, and enters the learning experience with wisdom of rich and varied life experiences.  Consequently, instructors invite the active participation of these adult learners through approaches that recognize and appreciate their knowledge and background.

In using the Adult model, instructors must also be flexible enough to appreciate the diversity of individual learning styles and needs.  Effective adult learning is practical and oriented toward real life issues and situations.

Each year’s curriculum provides in-service days facilitated by Diocesan leaders in specialized areas of ministry, such as:
Family Life, R.C.I.A. Justice & Peace, Compassionate Ministry, Religious Education, Evangelization, Respect Life, Youth Ministry, Liturgy, and Stewardship.

These days offer a focused opportunity to deepen understanding and sharpen skills necessary for effective leadership in these ministries.  Throughout the two years, each candidate works closely with a Sponsor who provides support and direction.  The entire process culminates in a written Learning Report which details the insights received throughout the entire program.  A formal Certification Ceremony with the Bishop follows completion of the program’s requirements.

The Office of Ministry Formation was opened in July of 1986 after a careful study of the spiritual needs of the people of the Rockford diocese by Bishop Arthur O’Neill.  In August of 1987, the program began guiding the first group of over 50 candidates toward certification.  To date, the program has certified hundreds of candidates.  Most of those certified through the Ministry Formation Program have stayed active in parish ministry, and some have gone on for further training for full-time professional ministry.

The two year formation program is a wonderful opportunity for Catholic lay people to deepen their faith, and to receive the most important knowledge and skills necessary for effective leadership in pastoral ministry.  Using teaching methods specifically suited for adult learning, the sessions explore our Catholic tradition through participant input, critical reflection and human experience.

How do I apply?

Potential candidates for the Ministry Formation Program must be endorsed by the Pastor.  It is best to contact your Pastor or a member of the parish staff to discern your involvement in this formation program.  The application forms can be obtained from the Ministry Formation Office or you can follow the links below.

*There is a non-refundable fee of $30 to process an application