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The Florida Catholic

School of Christian Formation celebrates teachers

PALM BEACH GARDENS  |  The Diocese of Palm Beach’s Office of Hispanic Ministry, which employs teachers in the School of Christian Formation, gathered the instructors Aug. 2 for a dinner in appreciation of all they have done and will do in the 2023-24 school year. Father Duván Bermúdez, director of the school, thanked the teachers for their dedication to helping adults gain a better understanding of the Catholic faith.

Classes in the School of Christian Formation began the week of Aug. 7 in English and Spanish at sites throughout the diocese. The English language locations are, in the Northern Deanery, St. Helen in Vero Beach and Holy Family in Port St. Lucie; in the Cathedral Deanery, at St. Patrick in Palm Beach Gardens; the Central Deanery, at Holy Name of Jesus and St. Ann in West Palm Beach and Our Lady Queen of the Apostles in Royal Palm Beach; and in the Southern Deanery, at Emmanuel and St. Vincent Ferrer in Delray Beach and St. Joan of Arc and St. Jude in Boca Raton. A Level II course in Christology is set to start Sept. 30 at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens.

The Spanish language course locations are, in the Northern Deanery, San Juan Diego Hispanic Pastoral Center in Fort Pierce, St. Lucie in Port St. Lucie and St. Helen; in the Cathedral Deanery, St. Joseph in Stuart and St. John Fisher in West Palm Beach; the Central Deanery, St. Luke in Palm Springs and St. Rita in Wellington, Holy Name of Jesus and St. Ann; and in the Southern Deanery, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Delray Beach, St. Jude and Our Lady of Lourdes in Boca Raton. A Spanish Level II course in Christology will start Sept. 30 at the cathedral.

Courses in the three-year program include Introduction to the Bible; Old Testament; New Testament; Jesus Christ, History and Theology (Christology); Vatican II; Theology of the Catholic Church (Ecclesiology); Liturgy and Sacraments; Morality; History of the Church; Social Justice; Spirituality; Pastoral Ministry and Evangelization.

Students who complete all the requirements, including an annual retreat set for April 27, 2024, will receive a certificate from Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito at graduation, scheduled for May 15, 2024, at the cathedral.

The school began in the 1990s as an outreach to local Hispanics, but now the diocese strongly recommends the courses for all the faithful, especially those serving in liturgical, educational and spiritual ministries. There is a separate track for students who are migrant residents in the region, allowing them to complete the courses at their own pace, available in Boynton Beach, Lake Worth, Okeechobee, Fellsmere, Jupiter and Port St. Lucie.

The goals of the school are to nourish and challenge Catholics with a deeper understanding of their faith; to enable participants to bring this experience to their families, friends, workplaces and ministries; to explore Catholicism as a diverse local church with members of different cultural backgrounds and with varying ministerial needs; and to view faith, church and ministry in light of the Second Vatican Council.

The School of Christian Formation seeks to make its programming accessible to everyone. While the fee for each class is $10, plus the price of the textbook, those who are active in parish ministry may wish to seek financial support from their parish. But no one who is unable to pay will be turned away.

Elizabeth Potito, one of the teachers who is a certified master catechist with a master’s degree in theology, began taking classes in the School of Christian Formation in 2018, the first year her parish, St. Vincent Ferrer, offered them. Soon after starting, she realized, “I know this stuff.” So, Polito found out about the online master of theology program at Ave Maria University.

“I finished (the master’s program) during COVID, so it was great and all online anyway. I never would have thought of going for a master’s in theology if I hadn’t started with this,” she said. Now she enjoys teaching courses offered at Southern Deanery parishes.

“These courses are geared toward the average person in the pew, who has some knowledge but not a lot of knowledge, and realizes that they don’t have a lot of knowledge and wants to have more knowledge,” said Potito, adding that her teaching style tends to be conversational, using the coursebook as a basis for discussion.

To learn more about the School of Christian Formation and access the course schedule, visit or contact Armando Garcia at 561-775-9544 or