By Marimah Branch
Special to the CS&T

A Mass was celebrated May 14 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul for the 45 graduates of the three-year theology certificate program of the Church Ministry Institute (CMI).

Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre celebrated the Mass for the graduates, who come from 28 parishes across the Archdiocese. During the Mass the graduates received their certificates and a CMI pin for their accomplishments. Also celebrating the occasion were several pastors representing the parishes of the graduates.

CMI is celebrating its 30th year in operation. Originally intended as a prerequisite for the permanent diaconate program, it now offers certificates in theology for all lay persons. “The program is meant for people active in their parish,” said Sister Mary Ellen Diehl, administrator for the institute. {{more}}

Though not intended solely for teachers or religious education teachers, the institute aims to fulfill formation needs of those “involved in ministry like RCIA, pastoral council, lectors, Eucharistic ministers and those involved in bereavement groups,” said Sister Diehl.

“The program runs during the regular academic year from September to May. It consists of six-week courses on the Old Testament, the New Testament, theology, and there are five courses a year for the three years,” Sister Diehl said.

The institute’s mission, as stated on its web site, is “to form disciples in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through ongoing conversion and holiness of life” and to assist adults in living out their baptismal call.

Also included in the three-year program is a project designed to work directly with parish ministry. “At the end of the first and second years, students are asked to observe and report on a ministry in their parish,” Sister Diehl said. “And during the third year, the students participate in a project for their parish – such as starting a new ministry or improving or enhancing an existing ministry. They work directly with their pastor to find out what is needed in their parish and what they can do for the need.”

On a practical level, the tuition is $250 per semester, which comes out to $50 per course plus fees. The cost is reasonable compared to other schools and programs; however, according to Sister Diehl, the price still keeps people from signing up.

“With the economy, people are still struggling to pay the tuition, so we are trying to come up with ways to develop some scholarships to help.”

Marimah Branch is a freelance writer and parishioner of St. Rose of Lima in North Wales.