We care about the quality of the formation that we provide. Excellence in formation is the most important quality we have to offer. There are many other values that come with excellence, but without it, there is nothing unique about what we do. Excellence is important because it is precisely the characteristic that is most endangered by a lack of resources. Anyone can cobble together a series of courses following the outline of formation available to anyone willing to do a little research. But if the formation that is provided is not excellent, then it is not providing the People of God with the quality of pastoral care to which Jesus calls His church. Such excellence does not happen accidentally. It is the coming together in a synergistic confluence of a number of qualities carefully balanced that make it possible.
Among these qualities are the commitment and appropriate structures, especially in such matters as promotion, screening, and evaluation, provided at the local level. These are supported in an ongoing way through the availability of experts at the Congar Institute. We offer to the folks working on the ground in the Diocese advice, support, and referrals as needed. The Congar Institute, through its staff and Resource Persons, has expertise to offer in the development and evaluation of curricula, of texts, of packaged programs. We keep our fingers on the pulse of lay ministry formation throughout the country and offer our sense of where things are headed to those who need to know.
Our Resource Persons have been carefully selected. We are blessed to have Resource Persons who are members of the religious communities with whom we are partnered as well as some Resource Persons who are individuals who share our passion for this ministry. Those who are members of religious communities went through a careful process of being identified and presented to their leadership team for consideration. Only after their nomination was accepted by the leadership team were they invited to serve as Resource Persons. These are women and men religious who are in full-time ministry who are willing to give some of their precious time to contribute to the formation of lay leaders in under-served regions, those places where folks cannot easily get the formation they need. They are highly educated experts who have long experience in pastoral ministry particularly in under-served churches. We also have a few highly qualified lay persons who work with us. We’ve gotten to know them through our networking with national organizations. Only those whom we know personally will be invited to work with us. Many of our resource persons speak English and Spanish. Our Resource Persons love the church, the Body of Christ and have given their lives to serving it. In their own ministry, they serve with excellence and as such, they embody the qualities we are trying to assist formation program participants to gain. They themselves are models of excellent ministry and by being who they are, they call the participants to excellence in ministry. They also set them on fire with a love for the People of God and for ministry.
As highly effective ministers and educators in their own right, our Resource Persons understand the importance of adult learning processes and how to facilitate learning among adults. They recognize the importance of integration and understand that ministry formation is a holistic process that engages the whole person and ultimately invites them to conversion so that their ministry is an expression of an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. We enhance this approach through a constant process of evaluation. Each session is marked by evaluation. The formation facilitator is evaluated by the participants. The Director of the local formation program evaluates the facilitator of formation as well as the learning of the participants and the experience of working with the Congar Institute. The facilitator of formation (Resource Person) does the same as well as evaluating the experience of working with the local formation program. Such feedback is essential to maintaining excellence in formation. We never tire of it because maintaining excellence in formation is the raison d’etre of the Congar Institute for Ministry Development. We offer excellence in formation in those places where it is not otherwise available to the local Church. Excellence in formation makes it possible for the church to provide effectively for the continuing pastoral care of God’s people in that region.