Universities Collaborate to Develop Formation Program

by | Dec 17, 2016 | Formation, News

Participants in the planning session to develop a formation program for higher ed included, left to right, Dr. Brian Hughes, director of the theology program, University of Saint Mary (US M); Rob Judge, executive director, Seton Heritage Ministries; Sister Diane Steele, US M president; and Sister MargaretRodericks, SCN, international student coordinator, Spalding University, Louisville, KY

The University of Saint Mary (USM), Leavenworth, hosted an initial planning conference in late October for universities and colleges sponsored by or sharing the charism of congregations in the Charity Federation to begin to create a “Charity Formation Program” for faculty and staff.

Sister Diane Steele, USM president, was convener and facilitator for the gathering. In a letter inviting participation, Sister Diane cited the increasing trend of lay men and women to staff and continue ministries previously operated by women religious.

“All of us are doing many great things to pass on our heritage,” she says. “We must plan for the future. Creating a shared, sustainable formation program will ensure the charity charism continues to shape our response to God’s people.”

The group focused on creating a program that will include information while providing formation. Participants will work electronically to develop the shared curriculum and meet face-to-face again, if necessary. Their plan is to develop the program by July 1, 2017.

Sister Diane said that developing a formation program for faculty and staff is part of USM’s strategic plan. In conversations with presidents of other Charity Federation higher ed institutions, she found they had identified similar needs.

Next step is distribution of the preliminary plan to institutions and congregations to obtain their buy-in. Then an executive director will be recruited to oversee development of the program with the help of an advisory board made up of members of participating religious communities and universities/colleges. The plan is to create a two-year formation program with participants meeting twice annually and working online between times.

Seventeen participants represented:
•       College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, N.J. (Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth).
•       College of Mount Saint Vincent, New York, N.Y. (Sisters of Charity of New York).
•       DePaul University, Chicago (Congregation of the Mission).
•       Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati, Ohio (Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati).
•       Seton Heritage Ministries, Emmitsburg, Md.
•       Seton Hill University, Greensburg, Pa. (Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill).
•       Sisters of Charity Ministry Network, Bronx, N.Y. (Sisters of Charity of New York).
•       Spalding University, Louisville, Ky. (Sisters of Charity of Nazareth).
•       University of Saint Mary, Leavenworth, Kan. (Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth).