The School of Theological Studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary is welcoming a new cohort in its Institute for Christian Formation (ICF) on Jan. 20, 2022. ICF is a faith formation program for Catholic adults looking to deepen their faith.

Unlike other adult faith formation programs, which may be created for newly initiated Catholics or which focus on a singular topic, ICF is designed for the “broadest segment of people who just want a deeper walk with the Lord,” said Msgr. Michael Magee, dean of the School of Theological Studies.

The program follows the design of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and covers the entire catechism in two years. Each year is broken up into two seasons, and participants meet for eight-night sessions each season.

Each season explores the Nicene Creed, the sacraments, morality or prayer. Other topics outside of the catechism are covered as well, such as how to get more out of Mass and how to walk with the Holy Spirit in one’s everyday life.

A breakdown of each season and session can be found on the ICF webpage.

Msgr. Magee explained that while the catechism can be read as a book, it is actually written to inspire creative ways for presenters to offer the material to diverse audiences. That is what ICF aims to do.

Any adult Catholic with a high school degree or equivalent is welcomed to participate in the program. The cost is $250 per season. Sessions take place at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

Many know the seminary for its priestly formation program but do not know about the formation available for others through degree programs and adult formation, added Msgr. Magee.

In addition to ICF, the School of Theological Studies also offers a master of arts in theology degree, a summer graduate program, undergraduate courses and the Catechetical Institute.

The school also offers academically advanced high school students a dual enrollment program through which they may earn three college credits in theology from St. Charles Seminary at their participating high school.

(Learn more about the School of Theological Studies and its programs.)

ICF is a formation program and not a degree program, but certificates are available for those who complete the entire ICF program.

The lay formation program will benefit anyone who wants to serve in parish ministry, but the main reason people join is to know the Catholic faith on a deeper level, according to Msgr. Magee.

The presenters for each session are diverse, including theology professors, ministers and people with unique life experience that qualifies them to present on certain topics. Sessions always invite questions by participants.

They themselves are as diverse as the presenters, ranging from young adults to retired persons, from everyday parishioners to teachers and deacons.

As Msgr. Magee puts it, ICF “equips people to be better disciples of Jesus” and to “get more out of the sacraments and Mass.”

His hope is that participants “would come to see that the Catholic faith is more beautiful than they ever knew before.”

Additionally, ICF centers around the hope that “people will understand the treasure they have in baptism and in the gift of the Eucharist,” Msgr. Magee said.

ICF began in January 2021, and Claudia Filippino is part of the first cohort. Because of the program, she feels God’s presence more in her daily life.

Filippino realizes she is “really here to evangelize … just as an everyday person in something I say or do,” she said.

Also part of the first cohort are Deacon Ed Sanders and his wife Debbie from St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish in Sinking Spring, Pa., in the Diocese of Allentown.

The diocese has hung posters promoting ICF in all its parishes because of how highly administrators regard it.

The Sanders’ commute each week to the program at the seminary might be long but Deacon Sanders said it is absolutely worth it.

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To learn more about ICF or to register for the upcoming cohort, visit https://www.scs.edu/school-of-theological-studies/institute-for-christian-formation/.