The Kino Institute recognized 75 Catholics with certificates during a special graduation Mass May 30 at St. Mary’s Basilica.
Their achievement capped off an intense two-year formation program for adult Catholics interested in growing in their knowledge of the faith as well as for parish leaders and men discerning the diaconate. They completed 14 classes on Scripture and Church teaching plus four parish leadership courses and countless papers.
Students attended weekly classes in English and Spanish. Most were traditional classes at the Diocesan Pastoral Center with two northern parish sites that participated through video conferencing.
Eric Westby, the outgoing director of parish leadership certification for the Kino Institute, credited several factors for increased attendance. Networking with pastors and parish staff helped, as did providing transformative content. More importantly, Kino’s faculty — a mix of priests and laity — know how to communicate content to students, Westby said.
“I think the secret ingredient to our success has been our alumni. I think that’s going to be what carries Kino for a long time,” Westby said.
Alumni emerge enthusiastic, confident and generous Catholics. They’re also better qualified to lead and teach regardless of their church or secular job.
Dr. William Chavira, a St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner, completed Kino courses while discerning the diaconate. He said the ethics portion during the Theology of the Body class helped him with moral questions on the job.
The experience also enlivened the liturgy and Scripture.
“It’s not something that’s stagnant. It’s the living Word,” Chavira said.
He hopes that going through Kino classes also helped his wife grow in her faith merely by proofreading his papers, Chavira said.
Others formally completed Kino’s “Prepare the Way” program together. Bridgette and Steve Cosentino were among a handful of graduate couples who took the courses together. The Cosentinos, parishioners at Christ the King in Mesa, made it a date night — sometimes complete with dinner first or discussion over wine after class.
“Constantly strengthening my faith life is important for everything I do,” said Bridgette, whose roles include mother, parish manager and marriage preparation coordinator.
She said graduates are equipped to live out the great commission and carry out Catholic social teaching in a positive and truthful way.
Daniel Kain, a parishioner at San Francisco de Asís in Flagstaff, found the faith formation to also be a prayerful experience that changes how he understands God’s action in the world.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted told graduates in his homily that adult Catholics need programs that provide the systematic teachings of Christ. He called Kino Institute, which opened in 1972, “a means by which Christ opens the eyes of our soul.”
Adult faith formation
The diocesan Kino Institute has open registration for a two-day class in Spanish in August. Registration for classes in English and Spanish throughout the fall semester ends July 15.