Faith is not one-dimensional. Neither is YTM. We bring together high school youth, their adult mentors, and students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (CSB/SJU) to build a community of disciples working together to build the Reign of God. Our Summer Institute engages high school youth in college-level theological study, service, justice, prayer, and vocational discernment as they explore their faith and integrate it into their everyday experiences. Adult mentors work as full- or part-time youth ministers, directors of religious education, and Catholic school teachers while earning their Master of Arts degree in Ministry over the course of four years. CSB/SJU students serve as counselors for the program, gaining skills in pastoral ministry and vocational discernment.
Twenty years ago, the Lilly Endowment had a dream that seminaries across the country could utilize their resources to engage high school youth in theology. They sent out letters to all the Christian seminaries and schools of theology across the country seeking grant proposals that would foster excitement for theological learning and promote vocations in church leadership.
In 1998, under the leadership of Dr. William Cahoy (Dean of Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary) and Dr. Jeffrey Kaster, the idea of the Youth in Theology and Ministry program was born. The structure of the program was significantly influenced by feedback given by the diocesan Directors of Youth Ministry and high school youth from Region 8 of the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry at a weekend retreat at Saint John's. The youth ministers said that if Saint John's was going to receive a very large grant from the Lilly Endowment, then it needed to invest part of that money in the theological education of youth ministry leaders. Because of this feedback, YTM includes the adult mentor component, providing graduate theological education to lay ecclesial ministers working with youth. In 1999, the Lilly Endowment accepted our proposal and provided a 1.2 million dollar grant to Saint John's School of Theology and Seminary to establish the YTM program.
In June 2000, the first YTM Summer Institute was held at Saint John's.
Since that time, 492 high school youth have participated in the YTM program. Our research shows that about 20% of these youth go on to major or minor in theological study in college.
The future of YTM is bright. With your help, we can continue engaging youth and adults in theological learning and vocational discernment. Learn more about how you can support the future of YTM's mission here.
YTM is grateful to the following who make YTM financially possible: