The Congar Institute is a common initiative of Home Missions Leadership Conference, and Southern Dominican Province. Founded in 2005, our Institute offers comprehensive consulting for Diocesan personnel dedicated to the ministerial formation of lay leaders and deacons. Our services include diagnosis of needs and resources through the final evaluation of projects, including all the stages of development.

To know more about our work click on each question

Do you want to begin a formation program?

The staff of the Congar Institute, with the authorization of your diocesan bishop, can help you to start a formation program from whatever point you need to begin, whether it's reviving a previous program, building on initial efforts, restructuring your present program, or starting from scratch. Some of the things we can help you to do are the following:

  • Carry out an analysis of the reality that allows you to identify the most urgent needs, available resources, ways to implement, and the contents and methodology best suited for your formation program.
  • Design a curriculum based on best practices taking into consideration your needs, the resources available to you, and the latest standards from the USCCB.
  • Identify potential funding sources.
  • Plan the implementation of the program.
  • Find the most suitable formators.
  • Provide formation to future or current formators in the program.
  • Design methods and strategies to evaluate the results obtained.
Our staff will accompany the team or the person responsible for the formation program in the tasks mutually determined necessary among those mentioned above.

Would you like to strengthen your formation program?

If you need more qualified formators, seek a higher academic level of formation, want to analyze or assess courses to strengthen your curriculum, desire to develop new forms of evaluation, think that the methodology being used is not adequately facilitating the learning process or that the impact of the program in the diocese must be increased, our experts can help you to solve these and many other kinds of challenges.

Would you like to evaluate your program of formation?

We can help, advising you regarding various forms of assessment, the most suitable materials to carry it out, and even, accompanying or conducting the evaluation process.

Would you like support/accompaniment in your work as a director of a formation program?

The Congar Institute's staff is ready to advise you regarding such matters as the level of theological and pedagogical foundations, the contents, methodology, or the administration of your formation program, and your efforts in communication, personnel management and development, participant issues, screening, advisory group creation and development, and so on.

Do you need one or more formators (teachers, formation consultants, etc.) for your formation program?

The Congar Institute works with over 100 formators or "resource persons" who are highly qualified and experienced in different fields of ministry and ministry formation, willing to contribute their expertise to the strengthening of the mission diocese and willing to offer their services for reasonable stipends.

Many of them are bilingual and all share with us the vision of Church of Vatican II and the documents on the role and formation of the laity of the Church in the Americas. Most of our resource persons have many years of experience in ministry in rural and under-served (mission) dioceses. Contact us, we can help you.

Would you like to talk to someone about your Diocesan-wide formation needs?

If there is no solid and systematic plan of ministry formation in your diocese, or there does not seem to be interest, time, or resources to develop it, and you don't know where to turn... contact us. Congar Institute can offer advice and/or support in the first steps to open up this very important field of pastoral ministry.

Would you like to see some concrete examples of the work we do?

Hispanic Lay Ecclesial Ministry Formation Program

Although we recognize the critical need for bilingual language facility, this formation program addresses the formation needs of a cohort for whom formation processes will be most effective in Spanish language.

Our collaborating partners noted that an effective formation model for Hispanic LEM candidates would address diverse learning backgrounds and styles and different cultural models. Thus, we opted to revisit online studies and other independent inquiry models that work well for English speakers. We found that these online offerings are not readily adaptable to the current needs for ministry formation for the lay leaders in the Hispanic community.

The program we offer builds on Aqua Viva and takes these leaders to the next level. Carefully screened Spanish-speaking LEM candidates in the program receive formation for ministry in a manner that also addresses their specific learning characteristics. Local clergy and lay Spanish-speaking instructors assist with intellectual formation initiated and overseen by the Congar Institute.

Intellectual Formation Curriculum

The theological formation is based upon the certificate program offered by the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI). The sequence includes nine core courses of study plus a preaching course for lay ecclesial ministers.

Theological formation is offered primarily in Spanish through a combination of local presenters and experienced Resource Persons from the Congar Institute.

The Bible: Its Saving Message
  • Revelation of God in the experience of the people of Israel (Old Testament)
  • Revelation of God in the experience of the historical Jesus and the risen Christ
  • Interpretation of the saving experience within the framework of human existence.
  • Anthropology and Spirituality of the Hispanic People

  • Human response to the Word of God within the cultural framework.
  • Characteristics of the Hispanic people in their history, socio-economic and religious experiences within the dominant culture.
  • Hispanic faith response in traditions, customs, and religious symbols.
  • Jesus and His Community of Faith

  • The person of Jesus and his faith community
  • Implications of following Jesus today
  • Analysis of the lived experience of faith of the Hispanic people.
  • Theology of Ministries

  • Ecclesiological model according to recent church documents
  • Ecclesiological model: its implications for the diversification of ministries toward a Church of participation and communion.
  • Theological guidelines for ministry
  • Reasons for the development of new ministries and models for restructuring of ministry.
  • The Sacraments and Liturgical Creativity

  • Sacramental theology and its liturgical implications
  • Liturgical creativity of the Sacraments of Initiation within the present norms of the church.
  • History of the Church in the USA

  • Hispanic roots of Roman Catholicism in the USA and its indigenous reception.
  • Regional development of evangelization.
  • Puritan and non-catholic traditions influencing its Anglo-Saxon roots.
  • Development of Hispanic consciousness and ministry within a growing cultural pluralism in the Church.
  • Ethical Principles and Social Doctrine

  • Concept of the person from a moral theological viewpoint.
  • Relationship of law and love in the light of the Gospel.
  • Basic sources of morality: Fundamental documents of the Church's social doctrine before and after Vatican II.
  • Latin American Church documents.
  • Pastoral Principles for Hispanic Ministry

  • Contemporary problems and methodologies of pastoral theology.
  • Applications in the religious and sociological context of the Hispanic community.
  • Introduction to ministry in the Hispanic community-III National Encuentro and National Pastoral Plan plus study of Encuentro and Mission- A Renewed Pastoral
  • Framework for Hispanic Ministry (USCCB).

  • Ministerial skills and practical issues for parish ministry.
  • Ministry in Service to the Word

  • Principles of effective communication.
  • Principles of homiletics.
  • Public speaking/ lay preaching practicum.
  • Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest.

All candidates receive their spiritual, human, and pastoral formation activities, retreat days, and spiritual direction bilingually or in Spanish, but in a manner appropriate to their diverse needs. Other services and skill building activities are coordinated by the Offices of Religious Education, and Hispanic Ministry.

Population Served

This program addresses the Bishop's identification of a critical need for a well-formed core of Spanish-speaking lay ecclesial ministers who will serve in the missions and parishes of the Diocese. Our program includes seventy carefully screened laypersons who attend monthly formation sessions in Salt Lake City.

Immediate and Long Term Benefits of the Formation Program

  • Formation of Spanish-speaking lay ecclesial ministers aids our goal of evangelization and catechesis in missions and underserved parishes. The Catholic Church in the Diocese of Salt Lake City estimates 76% of its membership is Spanish-speaking Hispanics. Long-term, these LEMs with excellent formation and bilingual language skills will recruit, form, and support other pastoral leaders who are needed to assist in meeting the needs of local Spanish-speaking faith communities. This pastoral leadership is essential to assure the Church's welcoming presence for Hispanics who live within a predominantly Latter Day Saint culture that aggressively proselytizes the newly arrived. We identify many in this population as young, poorly catechized, often recently arrived, and in need of pastoral services.
  • Spanish- Speaking Resource Persons work with program participants to meet their formation needs.Instituto Congar para el Desarrollo Pastoral (Congar Institute) collaborates with the Diocese by offering a theological formation program that is based upon nationally recognized standards for Hispanic ministry formation. Hispanic LEM candidates attend these sessions with Resource Persons who have extensive ministry experience within Home Mission dioceses and Hispanic communities. The Institute introduces areas of intellectual formation and guides local presenters to offer a curriculum with ten core theology courses over the four years of formation.
  • Lay Ecclesial Ministers grow in understanding their distinct vocation to ministry as originating from their common call through Baptism. Through intellectual study and other formation activities, the Hispanic LEM community builds strong relationships with clergy. This collegiality among the ordained and laity models to others in the Hispanic community ways to explore, celebrate, and use their gifts in service to the Gospel message.
  • Candidates with limited financial means are able to participate in an affordable formation program. Spanish-speaking and bilingual lay ecclesial ministers often do not have resources to underwrite their theological education at out-of-state Catholic colleges or universities. In this program, Congar Institute brings in well-known scholars and ministers who assist local instructors. The formation program fulfills the intellectual formation needs and gives a lower cost alternative for theological education.


285 Oblate Drive
San Antonio, TX 78216-6693
Email: congarinstitute@ost.edu
Phone: 210-341-1366 Ext. 269
Fax: 210-341-4519

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