Capping two years of monthly adult formation classes, a reception honoring 143 graduates of St. John Vianney’s School of Ministry program was held in the parish’s O’Callaghan Center in Hacienda Heights July 22.Religious Sister of Charity Edith Prendergast, archdiocesan director of religious education, praised the participants who qualified to receive an Archdiocesan Certificate of Completion for the 36-hour course providing a basic theological foundation for current and future parish ministers. The School of Ministry’s classes offered in both English and Spanish as a pilot project in the San Gabriel Region included such topics as liturgy, Christology, spirituality, collaborative leadership, Marionology, saints, sacraments and the history of the church. In order to qualify for a completion certificate, attendees could miss no more than one session per year.“This is really a grace-filled day because you have said ‘yes’ again to your baptismal call [during] these two years of preparation and formation and coming together as a community of faith,” said Sister Prendergast, guest speaker at the reception.“You have been formed in many new ways,” she continued. “You have been informed in the wonderful traditions and rituals and symbols of our faith with the many great speakers you had throughout the whole experience [and] I know that all of you have been, in one way or another, transformed.“Today we send you forth as we celebrate Vatican II’s 50 years and this Year of Faith that we’re entering into where we are called really to be about the adult church [which] is what you have done in a special way here — it’s forming and informing and transforming adults in the faith. The new evangelization is nothing other than helping us all be more in tune with Jesus in our lives, with the Holy Spirit in our lives, with God the creator in our lives.”Msgr. Tim Nichols, St. John Vianney’s pastor whose suggestion for the need for adult faith formation to his pastoral council two and a half years ago sparked the establishment of the School of Ministry pilot project, told The Tidings he is “absolutely delighted” at the program’s success.“It met my expectations because we had so many participate and our speakers (many of whom were from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo) were of such high quality and they were so well-received,” said Msgr. Nichols. Several participants, he said, told him they learned things they never knew before about the Catholic Church that were not only educational but inspirational. “I would hope that other parishes would consider having a School of Ministry in their parish; it has been life-changing for many parishioners and transforming to the parish,” with an increase in volunteers as well as catechists’ confidence in teaching the faith, said the pastor.“I think it empowered me to want to spread my faith to the community and the region,” said participant Yollie Mancino. “As I saw people answering the call to improve themselves, I recognized that there is a thirst for Christ out there.”Referring to the famous “Field of Dreams” quote — “If you build it, they will come” — Mancino said the parish did build the School of Ministry which was “wonderfully” accepted.“It improved me personally and it humbled me to see such a great response with people wanting to be here,” said Mancino. She added that working with the archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education proved to be “a real collaborating partnership.”Sandra Colindres, among those in the Spanish-speaking group receiving a completion certificate, said she learned a lot through the Holy Spirit and the speakers and has been empowered to be strong in the faith.“I’m doing what God wants me to do, continuing his mission, [being] his hands to reach other people who need more spiritual encouragement,” said Colindres.The School of Ministry will start again at St. John Vianney in September 2013. Information: (626) 330-2269.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0727/vianney/{/gallery}