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Archbishop Coakley establishes first Blessed Stanley Rother Institute

By Steve Gust
The Sooner Catholic

The goal of advancing Christ's mission in the world is getting a boost through a new religious leadership program called the Blessed Stanley Rother Institute.

The Rother Institute, which is named in honor of the Oklahoma priest, missionary and martyr who gave his life for his faith, will provide faith formation for spiritual leaders in the archdiocese, including religious education directors, Catholic school teachers and principals, parish catechists, youth ministers, deacons and RCIA coordinators.

According to Jim Beckman, executive director of evangelization and catechesis for the archdiocese, the mission will be achieved through catechetical workshops, certification courses and theology degree programs.

Beckman said deacons already are in classes, and the curriculum for other lay ministers will be up and running by the fall.

The institute will be coordinated by the Office of Christian Leadership Development with Jason Fugikawa as director.

Fugikawa said the new outreach has a simple mission statement to educate and form missionary disciples for the new evangelization.

"The Blessed Stanley Rother Institute seeks to fulfill the various needs of the archdiocese in educating and forming the faithful to become missionary disciples in a variety of roles and contexts," Fugikawa said.

Fugikawa explained the institute is part of Archbishop Coakley’s strategic plan that started with his pastoral letter, “Go Make Disciples.” The archdiocese and other Catholic leaders will continue to define the objectives of the Rother Institute this summer.

For now, faculty members of the institute include Fugikawa; Beckman; Carole Brown, director of new evangelization and missionary discipleship; Pedro Moreno, director of Hispanic and multi-cultural ministry; Alvaro Marfull-Melendez, associate director of Hispanic ministry; and Alexander Schimpf, director of marriage and family life.

"The number of people directly associated with the institute is expected to grow as programs develop and participants take on mentorship roles," Fugikawa said.

As part of the program, the archdiocese will continue its partnership with Newman University in Wichita for degrees in pastoral ministry. 
"We also will be developing single-evening and short event series on important and practical topics hosted at local parishes for people who want to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ in a more introductory format," he added.

Among the virtues of the Rother Institute is that the new program will "listen and bear witness to the truth, who is Jesus Christ," Fugikawa said. And, the institute seeks to raise generations of Catholics to perform great deeds with God's gifts.

The bottom line is to establish a foundation in the faith that Fugikawa and Beckman hope will pay dividends into the future.

"By coordinating many of the formation and discipleship programs already offered by the archdiocese together with new offerings under development, the Rother Institute seeks to increase the effectiveness of all our efforts to grow in our relationship with Christ."

Steve Gust is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.

Created on Thursday, 01 March 2018 13:47