Jan. 11, 2015

CUA Receives Grant for High School Theology Institute

The Catholic University of America (CUA) has received a grant of $565,689 to establish a Light the World! Institute for high school students who will spend a week on campus learning to see theology in everyday life. The grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.'s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which encourages young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

CUA will host its first institute June 12 to 18, inviting up to 50 rising juniors and seniors to its campus in Washington, D.C. for a week-long program exploring different aspects of daily life, from politics to science to sports.

After morning presentations by experts and opportunities for group reflection on various aspects of theology that apply to these spheres of daily life, the students will visit sites in Washington, where they can witness faithful excellence in action, by people ranging from politicians to scientists to outstanding athletes.

The goal is to make this program a permanent part of CUA's outreach to students in high school and to foster and support a new generation of leaders in integrating theology with daily life.

"The Lilly Endowment award is a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our mission to high school students," said William Mattison, interim dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies. "The School of Theology and Religious Studies at CUA is already at the forefront of theological education and formation for undergraduates, seminarians, and doctoral students.

"The Light the World Institute is an opportunity to deploy our resources - especially our world-renowned faculty and faith-filled undergraduates - to help high school students understand intellectually and discern more personally how faith permeates and transforms endeavors such as business, politics, science, art and sport. We are enormously grateful to the Lilly Endowment for helping us make this possible."

Catholic University is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative. The schools are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. Although some schools are independent, many reflect the religious heritage of their founding traditions. These traditions include Baptist, Brethren, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Reformed churches, as well as Roman Catholic, non-denominational, Pentecostal and historic African-American Christian communities.

"These colleges and universities are well-positioned to reach out to high school students in this way," said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment. "They have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges."

Lilly Endowment is giving $44.5 million in grants to help a select group of private four-year colleges and universities around the nation to create the institutes. The grants are part of Lilly Endowment's commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.

An additional grant to the Forum for Theological Exploration will establish a program that will bring together leaders of the high school youth theology institutes to foster mutual learning and support.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family - J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education, and community development. Lilly Endowment's religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.