Video: IPI Hosts Intern from Malawi

Ignatius Mvula spent two months this fall at the University of Dayton's Institute for Pastoral Initiatives (IPI) learning to develop online faith formation courses for his diocese in Malawi, Africa.

Mvula, a pastoral administrator for the Pastoral Commission from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Karonga in Malawi, interned at IPI to learn about its Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF) and how to integrate that training into his diocese. Mvula learned course design skills and worked to adapt online catechetical courses available on the VLCFF website for use in his diocese. His visit was sponsored by Jason Pierce, College of Arts and Sciences dean.

Bishop M. Mtumbuka of the Diocese of Karonga visited the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives in Spring 2017 and expressed interest in having more lay leadership in the church, said Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, S.M., Institute for Pastoral Initiatives director.

“They need catechists to be formed, and they don’t have the people to do this formation,” Zukowski said. “They turned to the University of Dayton through our online courses. During his two-month internship with us, Mr. Mvula learned all about the elements of the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation and how to integrate it into his diocese.”

The Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation is an e-learning portal for non-traditional students who wish to learn about and deepen their knowledge of their Catholic faith. The VLCFF is a part of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives, located at the University’s River Campus. The VLCFF offers more than 150 course topics in three and five week classes, in an online, instructor-led format. Courses run seven sessions a year, with enrollment topping 6,000 students annually.

In addition to learning the principles of course design, Mvula also sought to adapt the VLCFF curriculum for his diocese.

“I tried to go through the online catechetical courses that have been offered by the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives, and examine how they can be tweaked to fit and address the needs of the Karonga Diocese,” Mvula said.

Since returning to Malawi in November, Mvula has started to meet with Catholic teachers, lay leaders and catechists to begin to implement the VLCFF into the Karonga Diocese.

“One of our key initiatives is the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation,” Zukowski said. “We have over 136 courses in English and Spanish, and preparing to pilot e-courses. Arabic. We partner with over 80 dioceses in the United States, and go into 40 countries. It is one of the most exciting contributions the University of Dayton is making to the Catholic Church around the world. It's a great initiative of the University of Dayton as a Catholic Marianist university serving the Catholic Church around the world.”

To learn more, please visit the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives website.

- Aaron Alford, communication assistant, College of Arts and Sciences

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