April 11, 2023


The Catholic University of America has received a grant of $802,077 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help the School of Theology and Religious Studies to support faith-based organizations as they help children grow in faith and deepen their relationships with God.

The School of Theology and Religious Studies will lead project activities over four years in a University-wide collaboration with the Department of Education, the International Center for Ward Method Studies in the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), and experts and scholars.

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative. 

Project collaborators will engage in research and the creation of a web-based resource to include liturgical catechesis, the arts, music education, and educational activities to form children for liturgical worship and prayer.

The project will offer resources for Hispanic Catholic communities and children with special needs. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate will continue its collaboration with the program, begun in the planning phase, by engaging diocesan and parish liturgical and catechetical leaders from Catholic dioceses across the U.S.

“Worship forms the very essence of our faith. Our participation in the Eucharist is the source and summit of all that the Church does, as Vatican II reminds us. I hope this grant will help enliven the participation in prayer and worship among our children today. I am excited about this interdisciplinary approach, and I am confident it will lead to good pastoral fruit. We are so very thankful to Lilly Endowment for giving us this opportunity,” said Father Mark Morozowich, Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies.

Jem Sullivan, principal investigator and associate professor of practice in Catechetics, will serve as project lead.

Sullivan noted, "It has been an honor to participate through a planning grant in the visionary initiative of Lilly Endowment to nurture participation of children in worship. We are very grateful to Lilly Endowment for their generous support of our proposed implementation project that will serve Catholic children and their families, pastors, catechists and educators in parish communities across the country. The generosity of Lilly Endowment enables us to engage collaborators from the fields of catechesis, music education, and early childhood education within the Catholic tradition who will contribute to the creation of a unique pastoral resource aimed at the faith formation of children for their participation in the Eucharist."

Lilly Endowment is making nearly $32 million in grants through this invitational round of the Nurturing Children initiative. The grants are funding efforts to help organizations develop new and/or enhance existing programs that support congregations as they design worship services and prayer practices that more intentionally and fully engage children.

The Catholic University of America is one of 26 organizations taking part in the initiative. They represent and serve congregations in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions, including mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Pentecostal, Black church, Hispanic and Asian traditions.

Many organizations also serve churches that describe themselves as nondenominational, ecumenical and multi-denominational.

Lilly Endowment launched the Nurturing Children initiative in 2022 as part of its commitment to support efforts that strengthen the religious education and formation of children and enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.