By Fr. Sal Gonzalez, OMI, Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows and King’s House at the Shrine
On Monday, August 21, 2023, The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows started its first group of students enrolled in the Instituto de Formacion Pastoral/Pastoral Formation Institute from the Oblate School of Theology. The 24 students are all Spanish-speaking. The students mostly come from the Shrine community and a few from the local Oblate parish. The Instituto de Formation Pastoral/Pastoral Formation Institute trains and educates lay people to successfully minister at their parish. Students gather every Monday evening for a class via Zoom from OST at the Shrine and then share a moment of communion to discuss what they have learned.
Sr. Marichui Bringas CCVI, coordinator of the Hispanic Ministry at the Shrine, heads the meetings and has much hope for the participants. “The pastoral Formation program is giving the participants the opportunity to go deeply in their faith,” says Sr. Marichui.
As director of the Shrine, I am happy and proud to see people who have faithfully served the Shrine for many years, demonstrate a desire to study the Bible and Theology in order to grow as individuals, and help extend the Kingdom of God. Seeing young people, parents, and even grandparents taking these formation courses is edifying. I see a lot of hope for the participants and their faith communities.
One of the participants, Lupita Ochoa, said, “I have always felt a calling to get to know God better, this course is an answer to my prayer.”
Another participant, Anita Arzola, expressed gratitude for the program: “I am thrilled to be here; I am ready and willing to take this course.”
The program began with a retreat day at King’s House Retreat Center at the Shrine, where participants entrusted the time and work awaiting them to God. The students learned that God has called them by name to enter a deeper relationship with God through a more profound knowledge of God’s Word.