FMP – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who offers the Foundations for Ministry Program? In what languages is the program offered?
The Diocesan Pastoral Institute, located at the Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston offers the Foundations for Ministry Program in English, Spanish, Polish and Haitian Creole.

2. How do parishes learn about the program?
Ordinarily, the Pastoral Institute will post a request for parishes to host the program on DioNet, the Diocesan communications system, in the spring and in the fall. In some cases the director or associate director of the Pastoral Institute is invited by a cluster to make a brief presentation and answer questions at a cluster meeting. Alternatively, a cluster can request informational brochures for distribution at a cluster meeting, with a possible follow-up presentation by the Pastoral Institute.

3. Who should be asked to take this program?
The most likely candidates for this ten-week program are those persons already involved in ministerial roles in the parish and those discerning participation in the Pastoral Institute’s Lay Ministry Program – which includes general theological study, topics in pastoral skills, spiritual formation, mentoring and supervised preparation for a particular ministry. Other likely candidates are parish pastoral council members and those who have been in ministry for a length of time and would benefit from an update in theology for ministry.

4. Who should decide on candidates for the program?
The pastor and/or parish pastoral staff is best able to identify likely candidates for the program. It should be kept in mind that this is a program meant to benefit those in parish ministry and, while it is beneficial for a participant to attend this program first, the ten-week program is not a prerequisite for entrance into the Lay Ministry Program at a later time. In some cases a potential participant may enroll with the Pastoral Institute directly.

5. What is the format of a typical class session?
The ten sessions follow a similar format. There is prayer, vocabulary related to the session, a class activity, small group and/or large group discussion, lecture input and wrap up of the session.

6. How many participants should a parish choose for this program?
Usually, parishes will decide themselves how many participants to send to the program. The optimum number of persons taking the program at a given site is 25-30. The minimum number necessary for presenting the program is 20, and the maximum is 40.

7. Where are the classes held?
The determination of where classes are held is based on the parishes that offer themselves as host sites, taking into account the location and the time since the program was last offered at a site nearby. Each semester, the Pastoral Institute attempts to have one location in each of the four territorial vicariates. The site must offer a suitable adult learning environment and access to parking and public transportation. Accessibility by handicapped persons is also encouraged. Experience has shown that the following room arrangements and equipment are necessary: tables and chairs (rather than desks), space to move chairs around for small group work and discussion, chalk board or dry eraser board, and VCR/DVD equipment. Facilities for hospitality (coffee and cake), while not necessary, are encouraged.

8. What are the parish’s responsibilities?
These responsibilities are spelled out in the Foundations for Ministry “Guidelines.”

9. What are the responsibilities of the host site?
These responsibilities are spelled out in the “Guidelines” mentioned above.

10. What are participants’ responsibilities?
Participants are expected to attend class sessions regularly and on-time, to read the material distributed each week (mainly Catholic Updates), and to take part in class discussions at their comfort level. Participants may be asked to write a brief response of several paragraphs on a topic presented in class.

11. What do participants receive upon completion of the program?
At the prayer service concluding the tenth week of the program, a Certificate of Completion, which is signed by the Director and Associate Director of the Pastoral Institute, is given to each participant who successfully completes the program.

12. Whom can I contact for further information?
Contact Gerald J. Tortorella, Director, Pastoral Institute at 718-281-9556 or by email at