A New Door Opens for Lay Pastoral Workers
By: Baby Ramirez
Starting schoolyear 2013, the international Institute of Formation, Fondacio Asia (IFFAsia) for lay Church workers is partnering with Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan to undertake a common mission of collaboration for the formation of youth and laity, especially from the emerging churches in the Asian region.
To seal this partnership, both institutions come together on November 5, 2012, to sign a Memorandum of Agreement at the campus of Xavier University, a private Jesuit institution located in Cagayan de Oro.
IFFAsia is a school of discipleship at the service of local churches and mission. It adopts a holistic and integrated approach to formation as it trains and forms young adults to be active agents of renewal in church and civil society. It emphasizes lay discipleship, integrated formation and a spirituality of blessing and docility to the Spirit.
This help in building up capable lay leaders who can participate to bring about changes is IFFAsia’s response to the call of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) for a renewed church and society. The partnership further initiates a dual-track program which aims to respond to both formation and academic needs of the students of IFFAsia.
In the M.A. program, the student can earn either a Diploma certificate in pastoral leadership or a Master’s degree in development leadership. The program accreditation is granted by the Commission on Higher Education. Included in the IFFAsia formation program is a skills training focusing on micro-finance and entrepreneurship at the South East Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute, of Xavier University.
Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi, and IFFAsia Chairman of the Board, calls the formation at the Institute an “experience lived in the context of a community and missionary spirituality”.
Wilfred James of Sabah says, “What I learned in IFFAsia four years ago – Christian values, spirituality of Fondacio, formation of the human person – are really sustaining me in my mission, and transforming my attitudes towards relationships and work.”
Since its launch in May 2006, IFFAsia has produced almost a hundred young pastoral workers, eighty five percent of whom continue to serve full-time in their local dioceses, parishes and other church organizations. The areas of ministry include children and youth, basic ecclesial communities, evangelization, community building and social development. Graduates have come from Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Based in Quezon City, IFFAsia is an initiative of Fondacio Christians for the world, at the service of local Churches and communities in Asia. Fondacio is an international association of the lay with Canonical status of Pontifical right was established in 1974. It has established a presence in more than 20 countries.
Fondacio is both Catholic and ecumenical, and works with the youth, professionals, couples and families, elderly and marginalized to bring hope and renewal. In Asia, Fondacio communities are found in Malaysia, Myanmar and the Philippines.