As Christianity itself is a communal faith, learning about the Christian tradition and the ministry to which Christians are called is best fostered in an experience of community. Participants, therefore, do not engage the program content in isolation. Rather, they meet in groups of ten to fifteen people to form a learning community that remains intact for the duration of the program. Within this setting, students are encouraged both to support and challenge one another as they reflect upon their concrete life and ministerial experiences in light of the course material.
Depending on student need and sponsoring agency requirements, learning groups may consist of students with common interests--all catechists or all deacon candidates. They may also be make up of students with a variety of interests and goals. Some may work in ecclesial settings, while others may identify their vocations as taking place within the contexts of work or the broader community. Groups may be ecumenical in composition.
The facilitator of the learning group is key to its success. Loyola facilitators
- normally hold a graduate degree or equivalent experience in theology, ministry, or a related field
- are skilled in communication and group dynamnics
- are nominated by the sponsoring agency
- are trained and certified by Loyola
- know Loyola's method and model of education
They, therefore, can guide groups in the task of engaging the course materials through discussion and other small group exercises. Facilitators do not act as faculty. They implement learning designs created by Loyola faculty for class sessions. Loyola faculty certify, train, and maintain written and phone communications with facilitators; they also monitor their work and provide them with continuing education workshops as they progress through the program with their groups.