By Celine Klosterman
Reynaldo Cardenas wants to learn more about his faith and get further involved in the Catholic Church. So five years ago, he signed up for the Davenport Diocese’s Ministry Formation Program (MFP), which trains lay Catholics for ministry.
But the English-language coursework proved challenging for the native Spanish speaker, and his job at the time allowed few free hours for the program. So, regretfully, he left.
Thanks in part to Cardenas’ efforts, though, in January the member of St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty will be able to study in MFP in the language he knows best. Twelve years after the program was created, its Basic two-year track will be offered in Spanish for the first time.
“I’m excited about the potential,” said IlaMae Hanisch, MFP coordinator. “I think there’s great hope here for the future of the church.”
Hanisch had looked into launching a Spanish version of the program as early as 2002. But the demands of continually updating the English-language curriculum left little time for other ventures, she said.
In August, though, she, other diocesan administrators and Hispanic parish leaders met to discuss the need for Spanish-language diocesan offerings. The diocese is looking into bringing native Spanish speakers into the diaconate, for which MFP is a prerequisite. So initial plans formed to begin offering a Spanish version of the program.
Hanisch later agreed to meet in West Liberty with Cardenas; his friend Matt McAndrew, an MFP graduate and member of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville; and any interested Hispanic Catholics. About 25 people showed up after being invited by Cardenas, who is a lector, eucharistic minister, social service committee member and former parish council member at St. Joseph.
“It was an act of Mary,” he said of his inspiration to help get a Spanish version of MFP going. He hopes to help men who say they’d like to learn more about and get more involved in the church, but feel held back because they speak only Spanish. Some men, he said, have also voiced interest in the diaconate. “I was feeling like I needed to do something.”
Hanisch said several priests, Sisters and lay ministers have offered to teach. For student resources, the diocese copied some materials from the Spanish version of New Wine, a former Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph program similar to MFP.
Karina Garnica, an administrative assistant in the diocesan immigration office, and Elliott Rivera, who assists part-time in the social action and immigration offices, translated MFP brochures, application forms and other documents.
McAndrew, a former West Liberty resident who belonged to St. Joseph’s for about 10 years, said he hopes MFP will offer Hispanics more opportunities to come forth with their gifts — and help others better appreciate those gifts.
“There’s a strong, burning spirit in St. Joseph Parish,” he said.
He will be the on-site facilitator for MFP classes.
Classes will meet on Sundays from 3-6 p.m. once a month in St. Joseph Church’s basement in West Liberty for two years beginning in January. Classes are scheduled for Jan. 10, Feb. 21, March 21, April 11, May 2, June 13, July 11, Aug. 8 and Sept. 12.
The diocese hopes to offer the program annually and in a different location every two years.
For a brochure and application, contact Hanisch at firstname.lastname@example.org or McAndrew at 906 12th Ave Coralville, IA 52241 or Garnica at (563) 324-1912, ext. 232.