January 15, 2010
The Saint John's School of Theology•Seminary received a grant of $875,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. for the Youth in Theology and Ministry (YTM) program. This program connects high school students with seminary faculty and offers experiences of theological reflection, service, prayer and community. It also provides funding for youth ministers to complete a graduate degree in theology.
The purpose of the grant is to provide funding for YTM to become financially self-sustaining by 2018.
"I am most grateful to Lilly Endowment for their continuing support of this youth ministry effort to call forth the next generation of leaders for church and society," said Jeff Kaster, director of YTM. "I am proud that the School of Theology over the last 10 years has been able to assist more than 30 lay ecclesial ministers in completing a master's degree in theology and engage more than 300 high school youth in studying theology and reflecting on their vocation."
Every year, some of the best and brightest Catholic high school students from all over the country gather for two weeks of intensive spiritual growth at a YTM camp. The camp is for high school youth who want to more deeply understand and live out their Catholic faith.
"Shaping the lives - the faith, hope and love - of young people is truly one of the noblest things a person or an institution can do," said William Cahoy, dean of the SOT. "We are doing that in YTM."
YTM is a three-pronged program, serving high school youth, students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University who serve as counselors, and adult mentors who earn a master of arts in pastoral ministry from SOT over the course of several years as part of a YTM cohort.
One out of five YTM "graduates" goes on to Catholic colleges to major or minor in theological study and with many discerning vocations in church ministry, including the seven alumni who have entered seminary and one a religious community. In addition, the opportunity for CSB and SJU students to serve as counselors in YTM has been a profound experience for many of them, helping them discern their own vocation and gain pastoral ministry skills as most prepare for vocations in church ministry.
This is the fifth grant from Lilly Endowment since 1998 for the YTM program, totaling more than $3.3 million.
Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation and follows its founders' wishes in supporting the causes of community development, education and religion.