Since joining the Ministry Formation Program in 2016, the 64-year-old former primary school teacher and private tutor said she has grown as a student and as an individual “in ways that would never have otherwise happened”.
“The entire MFP experience is truly life-affirming and I feel so blessed that I can participate in such a unique and life-giving program that is working for the greater good,” she said.
“It has given me the necessary educational and spiritual framework and support that I needed to begin to follow where God was leading me. I’ve now come to realise that this is in family faith formation.”
Valentina said she first learnt about the program in 2014 after she and her husband moved from their house south of Adelaide to a new home located in the Newton parish. She was taking the opportunity in her new environment to “breathe and contemplate”, spending time in solitude and daily prayer.
“I remember coming home from Mass with my husband one Sunday morning, sitting down with a cup of tea and opening up The Southern Cross. A few pages in, I noticed an advertisement for the MFP and although I didn’t know anything about it, for some reason it just drew me in,” she said.
The next day she contacted the MFP office and had her many questions answered. After completing her application form she met with members of the team for an interview and then attended an orientation day.
“I am now doing my Advanced Certificate in Practical Ministry and the love and enthusiasm for what I’m doing remains the same.
“The MFP has provided me with the opportunity to study Catholic Theology in various ways, including online, and we also attend seminars, workshops and lectures throughout the year which I find deeply enlightening and informative.”
Valentina said she had received support from a number of people during her MFP journey, but three in particular have been instrumental – MFP director Margaret Speechley, parish priest Father Eldridge and sacrament coordinator Frank Placentino from the Newton parish.
Valentina is now very active in the Newton parish and each year supports candidates participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes.
She also runs the Confirmation and Eucharist class held on Sunday mornings.
“It’s really heartening to know that parents take the time to bring their children to sacrament lessons and are committed to nurturing the faith life in the family,” she said.
“I think this year’s pandemic has certainly highlighted that it is the relationships that we establish and nurture, both within the family and community, that are fundamentally important in sustaining us in the Spirit and that keeps us going through times of trials and adversity.”
Valentina added that her own experience as a child had created a strong base for her Catholic faith.
Born in a small rural province in the Campania region of Italy, Valentina’s family emigrated to Australia in 1963.
“Despite the challenges of resettling in a new land and culture, the tightknit Italian community in Adelaide was really welcoming and supportive of those of us who were ‘fresh off the boat’,” she recalled.
“Our community gatherings were rooted in our Italian/Catholic faith and culture, with the regular celebration of sacraments being especially wonderful opportunities for living our faith and nurturing community connections.
“I think that strong sense of community is still alive and well today in our communities. I would like to think that, in some small way, I can actively contribute to continuing the life of our faith community and to participate in the handing down of our great Catholic tradition to the next generation.”
For more information about the MFP program go to www.adelaide.catholic.org.au/education/ministry-formation-program
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