Formation Institute for Religion Educators (FIRE)


The Formation Institute for Religion Educators (FIRE) is a master’s program that provides catechists and religion teachers with high quality professional formation. Since its founding in 1979 by Fr. Joseph L. Roche, S.J., the program’s vision has been to raise the quality of Catholic religious education and catechesis in the country.


FIRE strives toward its vision through the promotion of integrated, inculturated, and community-forming catechesis and religious education. Concretely, FIRE carries out this mission by providing deeper and fuller formation—through its content, methods, and development of spirituality—of individual teachers and catechists; working toward institutional impact in the improvement of religion programs in schools, parishes, dioceses; and producing local, inculturated materials for genuine Filipino catechesis and religious education.


A. Professional formation that is open to all teachers

FIRE is open to lay, religious, or clerical religious educators and catechists who could profit from its demanding program. Priority is given to teachers from areas most needing support, and to teachers who show promise for achieving institutional improvements in the religion programs of schools, parishes, or dioceses. Since most catechists/religion teachers cannot meet the financial demands of such a program, FIRE offers full scholarships to all its students. This has been going on since its founding, having been endowed by the Jesuit Philippine Province as an apostolic venture. Today, the program is supported by subsidies and scholarships from the Ateneo de Manila University as well as FIRE’s own endowed funds.

B. FIRE’s theological orientation and method

FIRE’s theological orientation and method evolved over time in relation to other religion teacher formation programs which emphasized the social sciences in their approaches. While acknowledging the importance of these approaches, FIRE’s founder and visionary, Fr. Joseph L. Roche, S.J. developed an “integrated, holistic approach” based on God’s self-revelation and the concrete graced human faith response. The approach is enfleshed in FIRE’s curriculum, delivery, and policies; and can be summed up in the triple dimensions of studies, skills and spirituality.

a. Academic studies

This refers to the study of the basic teaching of the Church, as outlined in the National Catechetical Directory for the Philippines (NCDP) and the Catechism for Filipino Catholics(CFC) in an integrated approach. FIRE consciously aims at overcoming the common temptation of only concentrating on current, popular themes of the day. FIRE’S curriculum is unique among graduate programs.

b. Methodological skills

FIRE has developed a unique methodological basis in the NCDP and the CFC, focusing on one specific Catechetical/Religious Education methodology throughout all the required courses. This was adapted instead of the usual graduate school preference for offering a variety of disparate courses.

c. Spirituality

Seemingly alone among the Ateneo academic graduate programs, FIRE has integrated the actual worship dimension of formation with the doctrinal and moral dimensions (e.g. in the faith-to-be-communicated by the religion teacher). Mass is offered daily during the six-week program while a reconciliation service is organized and celebrated by all FIRE participants.

This basic, integrated, community-forming approach makes special demands on students and faculty who are asked to go beyond their normal duties. However, these challenges are in line with FIRE’s mission to demonstrate the significant difference between its curriculum and the smorgasbord (cafeteria choice) approach to religious education content, methodology and spirituality.



3/F Horacio de la Costa Hall

Ateneo de Manila University

(632) 426-6001 loc. 5370 to 5373