The CTU Institute of Religious Formation (IRF) equips religious women and men to become formation directors for their congregations, providing them with the spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral knowledge necessary to guide their candidates through formation in religious life, leadership, and ministry in the church. The CTU formation program for formators is offered every spring semester, from January through May. The program is offered in a hybrid learning model, with an option for in-person participation in Chicago either throughout the program or during the beginning or closing sessions, allowing participants to engage deeply with their fellow participants. Opportunities will be provided for participants to interact with one another and engage in program modules on consecrated and religious life, boundaries and human sexuality, leadership and ministries in the church, and intercultural life and living.

Institute of Religious Formation

Empowering formation leaders for a global Church

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Program Details
Theological Renewal
Skill Development
Human Development

Sr. Chioma Ahanihu, is a member of Sisters of the Living Word (SLW), holds a doctorate in Ministry with a concentration in Spirituality. She was born in Nigeria, she has resided in the United States for over two decades. Her academic journey began with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work, leading to a successful psychotherapist career. Recognizing the increasing importance of spirituality in psychotherapy, she pursued further studies, earning a master’s in Pastoral Studies and a Practical Theology doctorate degree. Her doctoral thesis, “Religious Women as Global Migrants to the US: Critical Conversations about Spirituality, Mental Health, and Vocational Identity,” reflects her deep commitment to exploring the intersections of mental health and spirituality in consecrated religious community life.

As the director of this center, Sr. Chioma is dedicated to empowering people through national and international dialogues on pressing issues such as racism, mental health, and immigration within the context of global sisterhood and consecrated life. Her insights, shared as a contributing chapter author in the book Reseeding Religious Life through Global Sisterhood (2024), serve as a beacon of hope for religious women worldwide, reflecting her deep commitment to their empowerment. This Hilton-funded grant continues to support the center on conversations within the religious congregations on interculturality, synodality, and daily living as consecrated people of God.

The basic content in Scripture, Theology, Spirituality, Religious Life and Human Development will be presented in a bi-modal format in a synchronous and asynchronous manner.  Students will be able to listen to the recorded presentations at convenient times, allowing for them to maintain their ministry positions and still take the required lectures which are essential for our program.  Students my also attend in-person. In addition, students will be able to have interaction with one another, develop reflection groups and have time for questions and integration of the material presented online.

Housing: CTU is not able to provide participants their own room and board. We suggest that participants make connections with their own congregations in the Chicago area or small apartments in 5401 S. Cornell as well as other apartments in the Hyde Park area of Chicago.

Additional Internship for in-person and online participants: Each new formator will be required to serve as an intern for 4 to 6 weeks with a current formation program. This internship for in-person and online students can take place within the CTU/IRF program time period or after the completion of the IRF program in May of 2024.

Update your current thinking on issues related to Scripture, theology and spirituality.

Sharpen your interpersonal skills for formation including listening, interviewing, confronting; explore group dynamics.

Gain new insight into the role of formator as a spiritual guide; broaden skill and practice.

Hone your understanding of diverse expressions of religious life and the dynamics of intercultural community living and ministry.

Broaden your knowledge of the psychological issues potentially encountered in formation and learn how to respond.

Expand your personal awareness and comfort level regarding healthy human sexual integration for yourself and those you’ll support in formation.

Better understand your role as a formation director in relation to the formation community, community members, superiors, spiritual directors, vocation director and others.

Renew your personal spirituality and gain a deeper understanding of your congregation’s charism along with a contemporary understanding of the vows and models for theological reflection.

Explore contemporary issues in religious life today, locally and globally.

Make a contribution to your congregation/province formation program by evaluating and/or suggesting new components through research on a specific project.

2025 IRF Costs

Tuition: $13,900

Other additional costs for books and supplies: $1,000

Other Costs:

While attending the Institute of Religious Formation, all participants must have health insurance.  If a participant does not have health insurance through his or her institute/diocese, she or he may purchase in through the health plan of Catholic Theological Union/University of Chicago

All fees are subject to change

Who Can Apply
Applications are encouraged from men or women religious who seek to become a formator in their religious community. If you are a non-US citizen or do not hold a “green card,” please plan to submit your application as early as possible because of the time required to secure immigration documents and visas. We recommend those who require a student Visa to apply by June 15. Residency begins in late August and continues through mid-May with a three-week Christmas vacation from mid-December to early January.

How to Apply
Women or men religious can apply online (below) or download and print an application application by clicking here. Applications are processed in the order they are received.

Once you have completed the application and submitted the $55.00 non-refund­able application fee, additional information will be forwarded to you about how to submit your letter of recommendation, along with a request for other supporting documents. Contact admissions@ctu.edu if you have any questions.

*costs subject to change without notice

Institute of Religious Formation

Chioma Ahanihu, SLW, D.Min
Director, Institute of Religious Life