The Ministry Formation Institute (MFI) was founded by the Most Reverend Bishop Barnes in 1998 to form and educate the laity and began as an Office of the Department of Educational and Ministerial Services.
The first MFI bilingual program, the “Parish Ministers Formation Program” (PMFP) began in December 1998 and it was created to provide basic formation for lay people serving in the various ministries at the parish. Bishop Gerald Barnes engaged all parish ministers to get formation in their ministries by asking them to take the basic theological program, the Parish Ministers Formation Program (PMFP).
Because of the growing demand for parish lay leadership, in 2002 the MFI developed a bilingual advanced level of formation program, the “Coordinator of Ministry Formation Program” (CMFP) to prepare lay ministers to be Directors/Coordinators of parish ministries. The CMFP used a long distance learning model utilizing microwave technology so that the opportunity for advanced formation and education was available to each of the six vicariates. In 2004, the technology was upgraded to a video conferencing system that facilitates a virtual classroom spanning 27, 360 square miles.
In September 2015 the MFI became a “Department of Ministry Formation”. This new department housed the Ministry Formation Institute and its two bilingual programs. NIne months later, in May 2017 the MFI added an intermediate program, The “Introduction to CMFP” to bridge the formation level between the PMFP and the CMFP, changed the meaning of CMFP from “coordinators” to “continuing” and expanded its formation to include adults seeking enrichment and others seeking to serve as lay ecclesial ministers.
In 2018 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the MFI foundation with a renewed energy to continue serving the diocese and forming adults and lay ministers for service in their communities of faith.
In 2019 the MFI established the process for Lay Ministry Certification for two major categories: 1) Ministerial Leadership for those serving in a specialized ministry such as: catechesis, ministry with young Catholics, adult faith formation, liturgy, charity and justice or life and dignity and 2) Pastoral Associates. The Continuing Ministry Formation Program (CMFP) achieved certification of its formation standards and procedures by the USCCB Subcommittee on Certification of Lay Ecclesial Ministry and Service.
Today the Ministry Formation Institute offers four bilingual formation programs and processes:
- Parish Ministers Formation Program (PMFP)
- Introduction to CMFP
- Continuing Ministry Formation Program (CMFP)
- Certification for Lay Ecclesial Ministers serving as Ministry Leaders and Pastoral Associates
In addition the MFI has a collaborative relationship with Catholic institutions of higher learning, specially St. Clara University and Loyola Marymount University that provide Advanced certificates, BA completion and Master Degree programs.