Notre Dame Launches Online Theology Program for Hispanic Catholics

By Kimberly Scharfenberger

unnamedFor available course, see Camino

 

A new faith formation program for Hispanic Catholics was just launched by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life, according to a University news release. The “Camino” program is designed to utilize technology and communications in encouraging “an encounter with Christ.”

Esther Terry, the program director for Camino, stated in the release that the program’s ultimate goal is to use technology and social communications “to walk with others and lead to an encounter in Christ.” This was reportedly inspired by Pope Francis’ 2013 address to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Timothy Matovina, a Notre Dame professor of theology and executive director of the Institute for Latino Studies, who will be the instructor for the program’s principal course, stated in the release:

Bishops and pastoral leaders across the United States have pleaded for quality faith formation programs that engage the fastest-growing population in our Church. Camino innovatively addresses that need and mutually enriches Notre Dame and our Hispanic sisters and brothers.

The courses reportedly cover “catechetical topics and particular needs in Hispanic ministry” which students will learn about through “video lectures, homework assignments and interactive discussion forums.” The principal course, “El Camino de la Fe,” will allow students “to take greater responsibility in promoting the life and mission of the Church” through an “informational and enriching introduction to the Catholic faith and theology.”

Another course available through the Camino program is “Sacramentos y Liturgia,” developed by Dr. Fanny Cepeda Pedraza, former president of the National Organization of Catechesis with Hispanics and collaborator with the USCCB on catechetical materials. The course will utilize scripture and tradition to study “the origin, theology and pastoral practice of the liturgy and the sacraments of the Catholic Church” with a “special emphasis on the Eucharist in order to enter more deeply into the mystery of God’s love and living an authentic Christian life.”

The “Oración y Esperitualidad” course will have students learn “the meaning of prayer” and introduce them to “fundamental concepts that will help us cultivate an ongoing relationship with each Person of the Holy Trinity.” The class was developed by Andrés Arango, the bishop’s delegate for Hispanic ministry and the director of evangelization for the Diocese of Camden.

Dr. Hosffman Ospino, professor of theology and religious education in Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, developed the Camino’s “El Credo” course, which will use the Catechism of the Catholic Church to “explore the beauty and depth of the Creed, highlighting its importance for the practice of Christian discipleship,” according to the website.

The University stated that “more than 450 people from 25 U.S. Catholic dioceses have enrolled in Camino so far” with participants comprised of “catechists, lay ministers, deacons, and others involved in Hispanic ministry who seek theological formation in their native language.”

Camino is a “great way to use media and technology to give learning opportunities beyond the University,” said Father Virgil Elizondo, professor of theology at Notre Dame, on the Camino website. “It is a great blessing to be able to bring the best professors to students and, best of all, in their own language.”

“Many Hispanics are hungry to educate themselves in the Faith and in pastoral leadership. The Camino program satisfies this hunger abundantly, with classes deeply rooted in the teachings of our Catholic Church and in the pastoral realities of the Hispanic people,” Matovina shared on the program website.

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