St. John’s University in Collegeville has received a grant of $5 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary as it develops its new initiative, “Sustained Encuentro: Accompanying One Another on the Way.”
The SOT/Sem will partner with the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio, Texas, to prepare next-generation leaders for the Church and the world, according to a July 18 news release from SJU.
“Sustained Encuentro” is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase initiative to support theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges facing pastoral leaders of Christian congregations.
In early 2021, Lilly Endowment awarded SJU and the SOT/Sem a $50,000 phase-one planning grant, followed in January 2022 by a $1 million phase-two grant to support its new venture: “Conversatio: Creating a Culture of Encounter.”
“Sustained Encuentro” is funded through the third phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. Phase-three grants support a limited number of large-scale, collaborative efforts that explore new educational and financial models for theological education. Lilly Endowment expects to award additional phase-three grants in the fall of 2022.
Central to the initiative is a sustained partnership with MACC — a national leader in Latino/a ministry with insights into issues such as the demographic, cultural, and ecclesial shifts facing today’s Church.
“Partnering with the Mexican American Catholic College moves us forward in our capacity to communicate with and accompany increasingly culturally diverse faith communities in our region and in the nation. The multiplier effect of this partnership and others within our network will be substantial. We are most grateful to Lilly Endowment for opening up and facilitating these new pathways,” said Benedictine Father Dale Launderville, dean of the SOT/Sem during the application and award phase.
“The sheer scale of this grant is groundbreaking,” added incoming Dean Shawn Colberg. “Lilly Endowment’s phase-three grant enables the SOT/Sem to leverage its national reputation and institutional resources to support emerging pastoral needs and leadership opportunities through expanded curricular programming, student scholarships and faculty support. Partnering with MACC extends our mission and enriches our understanding of the Church today.”
“In our multicultural Church and society, it is imperative that we prepare people not only to serve others but to do it with a sense of faith and inclusion of those who are most vulnerable and marginalized,” said Father Juan Molina, president of MACC. “‘Sustained Encuentro’ will allow us to form ministers more intently, especially Hispanic deacon candidates and lay ministers who can share their gifts and talents with the Church and our society in the United States.”