Camino program offers online faith formation classes for Hispanic Catholics

February 20, 2015Brett Robinson

According to the Pew Research Center, the U.S. Catholic Church is becoming more Hispanic, but the number of Hispanics who identify as Catholic is declining. Inresponse to a need for stronger faith formation among Hispanic adults, the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life has launched Camino, an online adult faith formation program for Hispanic Catholics.

“When Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in the first year of his pontificate, he challenged those of us working in technology and social communications to consider how we use these tools to walk with others and lead to an encounter with Christ,” said Esther Terry, Program Director of Camino. “Ultimately, that encounter is the goal of Camino courses.”

Designed by university professors and national leaders in Hispanic ministry, Camino courses cover catechism topics and particular needs in Hispanic ministry. Participants engage via video lectures, homework assignments, interactive discussion forums, and moderated chat sessions.

According to Timothy Matovina, Professor of Theology and Executive Director of the Institute for Latino Studies at Notre Dame, "Bishops and pastoral leaders across the United States have pled for quality faith formation programs that engage the fastest-growing population in our Church. Camino innovatively addresses that need and mutually enriches Notre Dame and our Hispanic sisters and brothers."

A recent study conducted by Boston College and CARA indicates that Hispanics make up about 55% of Catholics under the age of 30 in the United States, and this percentage continues to increase.

Since its pilot phase in 2012-2013, Camino has welcomed nearly 500 enrollees from 25 U.S. dioceses. Participants are typically catechists, lay ministers, deacons, or others involved in Hispanic ministry who desire ongoing theological formation in their native language.

“For me, Camino has been an opportunity to learn more about the word of God and about the teachings of the Church through technology,” said Camino participant Cristina LeBlanc. “Camino has given me the confidence to talk about my faith and has also given me an immense thirst to learn more. Camino has helped me to know Jesus better.”

Camino is a collaborative initiative that grew out of the STEP online theology program at the Institute for Church Life and the Southeast Pastoral Institute in Miami. Camino classes are offered at a low cost and support existing faith formation programs in dioceses across the United States.

For more information on Camino, visit the bilingual website at http://camino.nd.edu/.

Contact: Brett Robinson, 574-631-6109, brobins6@nd.edu