Bishop Edward K. Braxton has appointed Jaime Gil Nuñez as the new Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese. The appointment is effective Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018.
The director of faith formation provides a central role in the promotion and implementation of the National Directory for Catechesis to parishes in the diocese. This includes adult faith formation, lay ecclesial ministry formation, and youth catechesis. Gil will provide assistance to parish administrators, pastors, and other catechetical leaders in redesigning, developing and evaluating total parish catechetical programs and lay ministry, as well as provide resources for ongoing in-service training of personnel involved in catechetical ministries at the parish, school, regional, and diocesan levels.
He will work in close collaboration with the vicars forane, the director of education, the director of worship, and the office for Hispanic ministry. He will assist in the enculturation of catechesis and provide special religious education resources. The director of faith formation responds to the growing need for lay leaders to adapt their skills to the pastoral needs of their local communities through appropriate training, education, and support. Because of the urgent need to renew and to revitalize faith formation in the diocese, the Bishop has designated this as a cabinet level position so that the director will be able to receive regular input from the Bishop’s advisors and contribute to the cabinet from his unique perspective.
In announcing this appointment, Bishop Braxton said: “In searching for a new director of faith formation for the diocese, I was looking for someone who manifested a solid spiritual grounding in Jesus Christ in his own life. I was also concerned to find someone with the abundance of energy and enthusiasm needed to support everyone in the diocese in the work of faith formation. I was convinced that, ideally, the new director should have a youthful outlook and have the skills needed to serve effectively our growing Spanish-speaking community. I also wanted to find someone who truly understands what I mean when I encourage the People of God to learn their faith, love their faith, and live their faith.”
The bishop continued: “Every time I was with Mr. Gil, I felt more and more certain that he would be a very good candidate for this position. When he asked me about my vision for this critical position, I told him that I need someone who sees the director of faith formation as a ministry that takes them out of the office and into the Church. The director needs to be able to visit our parishes and schools and talk with our priests, deacons, religious, and lay leaders, and learn what these communities are doing in adult religious education, scripture studies, youth ministry, sacramental preparation and liturgical spirituality. He must find out what they are doing well, what they are not doing so well, and what they are not doing at all. He must support them with materials and resources, and support them by his own person. If they see your zeal and dedication, their own zeal and dedication will be strengthened and renewed. I stressed to him that I have placed him around the table at my cabinet meetings so that he will know he has the support of us all. I also told him that he is only one person and we do not expect him to do the work of three or four. Learn the most pressing needs and select the first four or five and work on them. I think Jaime will be an exceptional addition to our diocesan staff.”
Gil will work closely with the newly appointment Director of Education, Mr. Jonathan Birdsong. In learning of Jaime’s decision to accept the position, Mr. Birdsong shared, “I am pleased to hear that Jaime Gil has accepted the Director of Faith Formation position. It is my belief that Jaime’s energy and diverse experiences, both inside and outside of the Church, will be wonderful resources for the Diocese. I am personally eager to collaborate with Jaime in supporting the People of God throughout southern Illinois to grow deeper in their faith.
Mr. Gil’s unique background and experiences have provided him with a good preparation for his new position.
From Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, he has a Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry; from Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary, he has a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Philosophy; at the Pontifical Gregorian University, he completed 69 credits toward a Bachelor of Theology; and at Northwest Nazarene University, he completed 11 credits toward a Master of Arts in Counseling.
During this past year, he served as Director of Faith Formation at Holy Trinity Catholic Parish in Fairview Heights. There he planned, directed and supervised the entire parish Faith Formation Program which includes children religious education, sacramental preparation, youth ministry, adult faith formation, and liturgical planning. He also supervised and collaborated with the religious education and sacramental preparation programs at Holy Trinity Catholic School, including the supervision of the work of teachers toward catechetical certification and professional development.
At St. Jerome Catholic Church, Jerome, Idaho (January 2012 – August 2014), he served as Pastoral Associate. In this position, he collaborated with the Pastor in all areas of parish life and ministry in a highly multi-cultural environment; created, developed, and supported a variety of ministries, including: Youth and Young Adult ministries; Quinceañeras, retreats for Spanish-speakers, prayer groups, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and sacramental preparation; offered opportunities for multi-cultural integration with diverse parish population through workshops, cultural events, spiritual retreats, and multicultural liturgies; coordinated several major parish events: facilitating planning committees, executing the events, and overseeing their evaluation; and supervised and mentored parish staff members and volunteers.
In the Diocese of Boise, Idaho (July 2009 – November 2011), he served as Regional Coordinator for the Office of Parish Life and Faith Formation. In this position, he provided resources, formation, and leadership development to local directors and coordinators of religious education and youth ministry of southern Idaho; participated in steering committees and annual convocations that developed, executed, and evaluated strategic pastoral plans at local and diocesan levels; initiated and coordinated two successive diocesan Hispanic Youth Encuentros (Congress), working closely with a committee of 30 youth ministers.
Additionally, he has served as Director of Hispanic Ministry in several parishes.
Upon accepting the position, Jaime said: “I was surprised and very grateful when Bishop Braxton invited me to consider the position of Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Belleville. I have completed a very valuable year as the Director of Faith Formation at Holy Trinity Parish and I was looking forward to another year. I wish to thank Fr. Nall, the Pastor, and the staff and parishioners of Holy Trinity Parish. I am happy that I will still be working with them in my new position. The Bishop took an interest in me and my work after meeting me at Holy Trinity’s Confirmation. He invited me for lunch to discuss faith formation, youth ministry, and ministry to the growing Spanish speaking community in the Diocese. He later asked me to bring several catechists to his residence to discuss their methods and concerns. He was particularly grateful to have another native Spanish speaker serving in the Diocese.”
“As I respond to the Spirit’s call to ministry as the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Belleville, I humbly ask everyone to pray for me. It is my desire to use my gifts and talents to help continue the mission of the Church in forming Christian disciples throughout our Diocese, especially among the young people who often feel estranged from the Church. I appreciate the Bishop’s invitation to meet with his Cabinet and explore the work of Faith Formation. I was very affirmed by them and their desire to work in a collaborative style, assuring me that I would not be alone in this challenging service to this Local Church. I thank everyone who has encouraged me and who expressed a willingness to entrust me with this new mission. May the promises of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be the source of abundant life for all of us here in the Church of southern Illinois.”