Formation for Ministry

Contact Info & Staff

Formation for Ministry is a two and half year program of education, ministerial training, field experience, and spiritual preparation of adult Catholics leading to Certification in a specialized area of ministry and Commissioning by the diocesan bishop. Commissioned Lay Ecclesial Ministers are asked to give three years of service to their parish or sponsoring institution.

The Formation for Ministry Program is for women and men who are mature people of faith and willing to accept responsibility for ministry in the Church. Candidates must be recommended by their pastor or the director of a diocesan institution.

Candidates must demonstrate a fidelity to the faith and tradition of the universal Church and manifest the intention to adhere to the faith, tradition and disciplines of the universal Church, the local diocesan Church and their parish. They should also demonstrate a willingness to pursue continuing formation even after they are commissioned.

For more information please call the office and a packet with a full description of the program will be sent for your consideration.

 What is a Lay Ecclesial Ministry?

Lay ecclesial minister is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's (USCCB) preferred term for a member of an emerging and recognizable group among the larger group of laity who serve to equip and strengthen the church for its mission in the world.

What do we mean by the terms lay ecclesial ministry and/or lay ecclesial minister

  1. It is 'lay' because it is service done by lay people. The sacramental basis is the sacraments of initiation, not the sacrament of holy orders.
  2. It is 'ecclesial' because it has a place within the community of the church, whose communion and mission it serves, and because it is submitted to the discernment, authorization and supervision of the hierarchy.
  3. It is 'ministry' because it is the work by which Christians participate in the threehold ministry of Christ, who is priest, prophet and king, and will continue his mission and ministry in the world.

As the body of Christ, we are called and gifted in various ways to share responsibility for the sanctification of the world. From among the faithful are those who care called to serve the church as its ordained ministers and experience a specific call to lay ecclesial ministry.

 What Current Candidates are Saying about the Program

"As I continue in my course of studies, I continue to be very impressed with the holiness of the people I meet. It amazes me how many truly wonderful and devoted people there are that are part of the Formation for Ministry Program. My prayers have increasingly turned to prayers of thanksgiving for having had the opportunity to meet such wonderful people. Their devotion to their ministries is inspiring, and has helped me to remain focused as I continue my spiritual journey" - Syracuse 

"In addition to the improvements in my prayer life and spirituality, I have grown as a person and as a Catholic Christian through participation in the Formation for Ministry classes and the contact that I have had with others in the program, including instructors, administrators, and formation candidates. I truly believe that I am a better person because of these last two years in the Formation program. I find that I am more patient, more willing to wait and hear someone out or look for ways to improve any situation in which I find myself trusting in God that everything will work out in the end. I find that I am more empathetic with the poor, the sick, and the disadvantaged. I realize how fortunate I am and how I need to share my good fortune through others through service and charity. I am more introspective. I find myself examining my conscience in ways I could not before I gained in wisdom and insight through Formation" - Syracuse

"I have been involved in different parish ministries for over the last forty years and I have always felt very blessed in having the opportunity to serve my church. The FFM program, in so many ways, has affirmed my experiences and provided new insights into my Catholic Faith. What I have gained as a result of FFM is a deeper knowledge, guidance, and discernment in how I can effectively serve my church. The information provided, the sharing of experiences, becoming aware of the good works happening in our Diocese, and most importantly, learning about how - with the help of the Holy Spirt - how God can use me, has made me a better apostle" - Rome

"I have grown by leaps and bounds in my faith. I am learning so much about the Catholic Faith due to my participation in the FFM program. It is important to be educated in our Faith in order to effectively minister to others. God has called me to grow in my ministry by teaching me to be more tolerant and patient of others. My ministry has had a positive effect on how I deal with people in the workplace. The program has prepared me for some of the losses that I have had over the past two years, most recently my father's passing and that of a couple of close friends" - Binghamton

 The Formation Process

At the same time, it is necessary to improve pastoral structures in such a way that the co-responsibility of all the members of the People of God in their entirety is...promoted...This demands a change in mind set, particularly concerning lay people. They must no longer be viewed as "collaborators"...but truly recognized as "co-responsible" for the Church's being and action. 

Benedict XVI
Address to Pastoral Convention of the Diocese of Rome, May 26, 2009


The preparation provided by the Formation for Ministry Program is a multi-faceted developmental process that represents authentic Catholic teachings and current skills for ministry. Respecting the uniqueness of the individual, theory and practical application are blended to provide an integrated and comprehensive approach to the formation of the person of the lay minister.

Areas of Formation for Ministry

Ministerial preparation involves the integration of four areas of formation: the human, the spiritual, the intellectual, and the pastoral. The FFM program is patterned on this type of preparation, with particular attention given to the life circumstances of the lay person. 

Human Formation

The capacity for critical self-awareness and self-reflection about one's human qualities, character, gifts, limitations and physical and psychological health, is critical to the development of a mature and effective minister. Students have formal and informal opportunities to deepen their understanding of that it means to be in a relationship with one's self, with God, and with others.

Spiritual Formation

The source and heart of ministry is the personal experience of God's gracious gift of love in Christ and through his Spirit. The FFM program includes a number of opportunities for reflection, prayer, and retreat experiences, to assist candidates discern a call to public ministry, and sustain them in their lives and service to the church.

Intellectual Formation

For Catholics, thinking is part of believing. Rooted in the belief that God has become fully human in Jesus Christ, the Catholic intellectual tradition upholds the mutual illumination of faith, knowledge, and reason. Program courses include: Introduction to Scripture, Sacraments, Morality, Pastoral Care, Spirituality of Leadership, Catholicism, Church History, Evangelization, Advanced Scripture, Liturgy/RCIA and Youth Ministry.

NB: In addition to completing FFM requirements, those in preparing to serve the church as Faith Formation Ministers must complete requirements established by the diocesan Faith Formation Office.

Pastoral Formation

Through practice of minitry during their field work and workshops, combined with mentored reflection on those experiences, enables students to cultivate their knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to minister effectively in the name of the Church.

Areas of Service

Each candidate is given a variety of special concentration areas from which to choose. They include: Faith Formation, Liturgy/RCIA, Youth Ministry, Parish Business Administration, and General Parish Service with one of the following sub-specialties such as outreach, social justice, pastoral care, respect life and others. 

 A Model of Adult Education

The adult character of the People of God flows from Baptism to Confirmation which are the foundation of the Christian life and ministry. They signify initiation in to a community of believers who, according to their state in life, respond to God's call to holiness and accept responsibility for the ministry of the church.

Called and Gifted for Third Millenium (N.11)
National Conference of Catholic Bishops

 The Adult Model recognizes that an adult learner is self-directed, highly motivated and responsible, and enters the learning experience with the 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.

To view the video series from the North American Forum on the Cathechumanate, click here.



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