By Benedict Reshas Nyondo*
I enrolled with the Virtue Learning Community for Faith Formation (VLCFF), offered by the University of Dayton in collaboration with the Diocese of Karonga, by the grace of God. My name together with others had been submitted to the diocese. I realized most of the people on the list were teachers from both primary and secondary schools. There were also Catechetical Methodology Advisors for the Catholic schools in the diocese. We were soon invited for orientation since it was the first time for most of us to take online courses.
I remember very well the first five-week course in Images of Jesus started on 28th May, 2017. Since that time VLCFF has not only changed my lifestyle but has transformed my way of living. The studies, reflection writing and the discussions on the board with fellow students from various dioceses have been very helpful to my spiritual formation. The beginning looked so humble that I could hardly realize that I could reach this far. The Images of Jesus, however, gave me hope that the journey would bear fruits.
Some of the courses covered like The Sacraments were practical in nature such that I would, in most of the times, use them either for my daily activities or use them for my students’ lessons. I honestly found some courses quite enriching. For instance, the Introduction to Prayer course was very touching.
I liked the mode of online lesson delivery with very effective and reliable facilitators. There is no time wasted when one gets enrolled with VLCFF. The courses were so motivating that one felt like going on with learning. As a teacher, I found the courses quite helpful. The courses added more information to my old catechism classes to the extent that I was more knowledgeable than before.
As a catechist, there is one particular learning experience that I gained most, lesson planning. I must accept that as a teacher, I am quite aware how important a lesson plan is for the effective delivery of the lesson in class. But to plan for a catechism class, it was like a taboo. I used to have only short notes for the lesson. After going through this course, I appreciate the importance of the lesson plan for the class. It is through the planning that a teacher discovers what resources may be required in the course of lesson delivery. The lesson plan is, therefore, instrumental in soliciting the right materials or resources for teaching.
On discussion boards, I learned a variety of experiences from other ethnic groups but with one Catholic faith. I remember very well to have enjoyed learning from the dioceses that allow their parishioners to kneel when receiving the Eucharist. I liked it because it shows our deep respect for Jesus Christ, who is present in the Blessed Sacrament.
Time management is another area of achievement that I attribute to VLCFF. Being a secondary school teacher with other responsibilities attached to the profession; it was not easy to meet the due dates for the assignments. As if that was not enough, black outs were the order of the day. Above all these challenges, I had to make sure time was respected. There were times when things went beyond my control. These are times facilitators came to my rescue with their proper guidance and encouragement.
My success for my spiritual growth with VLCFF is evident in many ways. My performance as a school catechist is from nothing but VLCFF. The skills gained in planning the lessons help me in delivering catechesis as well as conducting Sunday services in communities outside the school campus during holidays. VLCFF has made it possible that I should reach out the communities. Reaching out such communities is in agreement with the diocese’s motto: “We shall go to them”.
*Benedict Reshas Nyondo was installed Reader on 13th November, 2021. This is one of the two ministries one is supposed to receive before receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He will be ordained Permanent Deacon in July, 2022.