Saint Meinrad receives two Lilly grants for outreach to Catholic youth and young adults

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Saint Meinrad has received two grants totaling more than $2 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. for programs that will expand outreach to Catholic youth and young adults.

Hispanic and Latino Ministry

One grant will focus on improving the way priests, deacons and lay ministers serve Hispanic and Latino youth and young adults. Saint Meinrad will use the $999,620 grant to establish an Office for Hispanic and Latino Ministry within Saint Meinrad’s new Center for Youth and Young Adult Evangelization. The grant is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative.

The three-phase initiative is designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

Saint Meinrad is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative.

Earlier this year, Saint Meinrad worked with a research firm to learn how Hispanic and Latino youth and young adults relate to their Catholic faith. The new office will focus on the needs, challenges, and potentials of outreach through Hispanic and Latino ministry. It will develop materials, methodology and tools for pastors/priests, deacons, and lay ministers who are ministering to Hispanic and Latino youth and young adults.

Using the research findings, Saint Meinrad will develop programs to form pastors, deacons, and laity to minister more effectively to these young people, relating to them in culturally appropriate and meaningful ways. With better understanding of the unique needs of Hispanic and Latino young people, and how to address those needs, ministers will be more successful in strengthening the faith lives of Hispanic/Latino young people and reinforcing their cultural ties to the Catholic faith.

“While Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology already has some offerings geared toward preparing seminarians for Hispanic/Latino ministry, the creation of a staffed office will allow for improved formation for seminarians and the ability to expand the opportunities for formation to ordained priests, deacons, and lay ministers,” said Sr. Jeana Visel, OSB, dean of School of Theology programs at Saint Meinrad.

“If Hispanic/Latino young people can be better served, we improve our chances of helping them to strengthen their affiliation with the Catholic Church and, indeed, to strengthen their own sense of their ethnic heritage.”

Young Adult Initiative

A Lilly Endowment grant of $1.25 million will support the second phase of Saint Meinrad’s Young Adult Initiative. The primary goal of this phase of the program is to support Catholic parishes and ministry leaders in reimagining their approaches to young adult outreach, accompaniment, and discipleship.

During the five-year grant period, Saint Meinrad plans to:

  • create a parish guide for ministry with young adults;

  • develop resources and offer workshops for bishops, priests, deacons, and laity from across the United States to inform them of the Phase 1 findings and promote usage of the parish guide; and

  • invite some of the parishes that Saint Meinrad worked with during Phase 1 to continue their young adult engagement efforts and become mentors to neighboring parishes.

“In this second phase of the Young Adult Initiative, Saint Meinrad wants to offer a concrete guide for forming a parish culture that is open and responsive to the needs of affiliated and unaffiliated young adults,” said Tammy Becht, interim director of Saint Meinrad’s Center for Youth and Young Adult Evangelization.

“We intend to provide Catholic leaders methods for parish accompaniment of young people so more parishes will realize increased engagement with young adults in their communities,” she said. “Parishes will be challenged to create a parish vision and plan that will engage young people. As this work progresses, we will share the results at workshops and conferences for ministry leaders.”