August 31, 2023-May 16, 2024

Institute of Religious Formation

Empowering formation leaders for a global Church.

Dedicated to preparing men and women for the ministry of formation since 1971, the Institute of Religious Formation offers a comprehensive, spiritual, collaborative, intellectual, and experiential approach to learning, life, and ministry—all focused within the context of formation. The IRF has continually grown and adapted to the needs of the ever-changing world. It is a residential, nine-month program in which participants live in community and share their experiences with fellow ministers from throughout the world, allowing them to experience the global church in a real way.


By living, worshiping, and studying together, participants are able to model and live what is ideal in communities of formation. Through this process, participants develop the needed skills and tools for formation ministry. More than 1700 women and men have studied at the IRF program since its inception.


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 experience will initiate the new formator with the dimensions of leading the experience of community living as well experience the growth stages of formation. In addition the intern will participate in ongoing presentations according to what is currently needed within the host formation community. 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.



Theological Renewal

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

Skill Development

  • 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.

Human Development and Growth

  • 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.

Costs and Application

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 Sr. Lucianne Siers, OP if you have any questions.

*costs subject to change without notice

2023-2024 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.



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If you do not hear from us within one week of submission, please contact Lucianne Siers, OP at



Sr. Lucianne Siers, OP
Director of the Institute of Religious Formation and Hesburgh Sabbatical Program


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