Ministry Formation Program Expands with Spanish Option
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
April 23, 2021

ROCKFORD—“We want to help every person to become wholly engaged in their faith, and empower people to go out and build up the Kingdom of God,” says John Jelinek, director of Ministry Formation.

That desire is the impetus for his office to expand its program to include two languages, enabling up to 30 Catholics this year to study the two-year, already-in-English program in the Spanish language.

The classes “will be close to being the same,” Jelinek says. “Not word for word, (but) linguistically and culturally-translated.”

The Spanish version will include the same points for each class, he adds, “but we don’t give our instructors a script ... it will be the same level of formation (and develop) the same competencies.”

The Education Office’s newest employee is Julieta Jacobo, coordinator of Hispanic catechesis and formation for the diocese.

She and Jelinek are coordinating and designing the Spanish language Ministry Formation process, and Jacobo will serve as one of the instructors — along with priests, deacons and lay experts.

“There has been a tremendous interest,” Jacobo says. Publicizing the program to priests at deanery meetings and to lay Catholics has been “fun so far,” she says. “A lot of people think this is great,” and say they will be telling their friends and parish priests.

Seeing their excitement excites her as she and Jelinek continue the “behind the scenes” work of writing the curriculum and lining up instructors.

The “tricky” part of the process, Jacobo says, is because it is more than translating words from English to Spanish.

The program will provide “more of an enculturation for our Hispanic community (with the) same level of instructors and of professionalism. Even though we are not starting from scratch, it is still quite a process to get it off the ground.”

Part of the challenge is avoiding the use of Spanish as spoken in Mexico or in Colombia or any other, specific country.

“We’re trying to find the way of putting (the program) in a neutral Spanish,” Jacobo says. “We’re trying to make it as accessible as we can to everybody, so nobody feels left out.”

At the moment, the plan is for in-person classes for both English and Spanish, says Jelinek, with adjustments per state of Illinois coronavirus restrictions in place when classes begin in August.

This year, English classes will be offered as usual in four locations around the diocese, while the first Spanish class will be held at St. Laurence Church in Elgin, chosen for its “somewhat centralized” location in the eastern part of the diocese, he says.

Class size this first year is limited to about 30 people, the same as that of the four locations of English language classes.

The requirements of the Ministry Formation Program in both languages will be the same — application process, fee structure, letter from the pastor, three meetings a month and annual retreat.

“Anything in the English program will be the same in the Spanish program,” Jelinek says. “Retreats and orientations will be done jointly — we’re making a great effort to be one people celebrating and learning in two languages.”

The goal for the entire program, he says, “is to raise up leadership that can help a parish and a pastor to achieve its visions and goals.

“We are investing in (all our students) because they are children of God with gifts and talents, and we want to empower them to do the work of God.”

Registration has begun for both the English and Spanish language classes. The Opening Retreat will be on Aug. 21.

Info: 815-399-4300, the English website, or the Spanish website at:


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