By RENEE WEBB
The Ministry Institute of Christ the Servant was recently established in Sioux City to develop leaders in parishes, Catholic schools and families through affordable education, practical training, a prayerful approach to studies and a formation experience rooted in the Eucharist.
According to Brandon Harvey, founder of the institute, this will be done in diverse outlets of formation to fit the diverse needs of ministry leaders and to offer these programs at a cost that fits their ministry-based incomes.
“The institute will offer ministry formation through academic programs, professional training certifications, conferences and ministry resources,” said Harvey.
The professional training courses offered by the institute in collaboration with Briar Cliff University will focus on Scripture, apologetics, liturgy, evangelization, catechesis, religious education, Catholic schools, church music, church architecture, mystagogy, Franciscan studies and more.
“The bulk of our efforts will be through online programs in order to make it available to people throughout the country and at a lower cost,” said Harvey, who added they will also have some workshops and conferences on BCU’s campus in Sioux City where the institute is located.
Successful completion of the professional training will result in a Certification in Sacred Liturgy or in Evangelization and Catechesis.
He explained the formation opportunities are for those in ministry.
“This means our content focuses on their theological knowledge, their ministry spirituality and knowledge of various ministry methods,” Harvey said. “Our goal is a holistic approach that brings together the fields of evangelization, catechesis, liturgy and social justice. All our formation programs will reflect on how a theological subject or ministry method relates to the Eucharist as its ‘source and summit.’”
Not only is the institute ideal for parish and Catholic school ministry leaders such as directors of religious education (DREs), youth ministry coordinators, Catholic school teachers and music directors, but Harvey said it would be beneficial for various parish volunteers like catechists, youth group volunteers, pro-life workers, Bible study leaders, cantors and so on.
However, he added, anyone can benefit from the institute as a means of enriching their faith and lay apostolate.
“We are beginning to offer this year our basic professional training certification. The goal is to continue to develop academic programs on an undergraduate and graduate level. Those specifics are still being prayed on, discerned and explored,” Harvey acknowledged.
Harvey, a 2008 Briar Cliff graduate, earned his master’s in theology and ministry from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He has served as a catechist, DRE, youth ministry director, development coordinator, deacon formation instructor and adjunct professor. He is married to his high school sweetheart and they have a daughter, Ofelia Ann, and two sons named after Benedict XVI: Benedict Romano and Joseph Ratzinger Harvey.
His ministry experience began in Sioux City and it was his fellow parish ministers throughout the Diocese of Sioux City who provided inspiration to start the institute.
As he worked with parish ministers, volunteers and Catholic school teachers throughout the diocese, Harvey discovered what needs were being met by other institutions and programs and what still needed to be addressed.
“For seven years I heard: ‘We need affordable programs for people with parish salaries, we need programs that match our schedules and vocational diversity, we need programs taught by those still working in the trenches of ministry, etc.’ For seven years and more I have discerned this and for the last two years I have devoted every second of free-time to making it happen,” Harvey said, “But really, it is all by God’s grace.”
The Ministry Institute of Christ the Servant has received approval of Bishop Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City. In the bishop’s written endorsement, he stated, “I want to offer my endorsement and support for the Ministry Institute of Christ the Servant that is part of Briar Cliff University. Your efforts at forming leaders who will be able to faithfully and effectively minister to the flock of the Lord comes at an important time in our church as we seek new ways to evangelize the people of God.”
Harvey pointed out that Dr. William Mangan, vice president of academic affairs at BCU, has been instrumental in assisting with the development of its vision and materials.
Summer youth conference
This summer the institute will offer a high school youth conference, Champions of the Tau, at Briar Cliff University. The institute is in the process of recruiting for the youth conference that is open to Catholics throughout the region.
This high school youth conference will also provide formation for adult chaperones. While the youth attend breakout sessions, the chaperones will have breakouts oriented at life after the conference.
“The Champions of the Tau Youth Conference is sure to be an amazing experience for discipleship and empowering communities,” Harvey said.
For more information about the youth conference go to: www.briarcliff.edu/youthconference. Learn more about the institute at www.catholicministryinstitute.org and email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To give back to the diocese that provided the original inspiration for The Ministry Institute of Christ the Servant, the institute has collaborated with Channel 88.1 KFHC in Sioux City and KOIA in Storm Lake Catholic radio for a weekly show “Into the Mystery” with Brandon Harvey as the host.
“It will have friends and associates of the institute on as guests throughout,” he said. “The goal of this show is to provide information that is aimed at transforming us, inviting us to greater depths of holiness by exploring the mystery we celebrate in the liturgy, the mystery we proclaim and share through evangelization and social justice.”
“Into the Mystery” airs on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. and encores on Thursdays at 3:30 p.m.