Lilly Endowment Awards Immaculate Conception Seminary Nearly $1 Million Grant to Strengthen Pastoral Leadership  

ChurchImmaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology (ICSST) has received a grant of $989,384 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to facilitate "The 4:12 Pathway for Pastoral Leadership: Building an Authentic Culture of Discernment, Encouragement, and Accompaniment," a project designed to foster new energy and growth in ICSST’s academic and formation programs.

Over the course of four years, ICSST will implement six strategic initiatives that aim to educate, form and support the next generation of pastoral leaders, such as engaging ICSST’s diverse student body, enhancing programming in the Center for Diaconal Formation and collaborating with the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas and the Catholic Center for Evangelization, among others.

ICSST drew the project’s title from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:11-13:

11So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

"These verses remind us that we need to rely on God's grace to fulfill our unique calling, which is meant for us as individuals and the Body of Christ, the Church. We believe we are called by God to co-labor in the work of equipping God's people to build up the Body of Christ and that this work takes on new implications in the context of today's unique challenges and crises. Each proposed initiative addresses the requirement of theological schools to attend to the spiritual and character formation of future pastoral leaders. The project takes this aspect of formation to heart in each initiative," said Monsignor Joseph Reilly, S.T.L., Ph.D., Rector/Dean.

Launching in 2022, The 4:12 Pathway project will be funded through Lilly Endowment's Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, a three-phase effort designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

"Implementing The 4:12 Pathway project at ICSST will be an act of love in the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, patron and namesake of Seton Hall University," said Dianne M. Traflet, J.D., S.T.D., Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Administration and Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology. "Further, we dedicate our corporate efforts, that is, the work of our spiritual and academic community, to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for whom our Seminary School of Theology takes its name. Therefore, it is a joy for us to put forward our hearts and minds with the work of our hands and the assistance of Lilly Endowment. We trust that, together, we are on a pathway toward true discipleship and leadership in the service of Our Lord."

ICSST is one of 84 theological schools receiving more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. The awarded schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American, and recent immigrant Christian communities.

"Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches," said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment's vice president for religion. "Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow."

Immaculate Conception Seminary is a House of Formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood and the School of Theology of Seton Hall University. As a House of Formation, the Seminary offers men preparing for the priesthood the personal, academic, ministerial and spiritual formation essential for their conversion to Jesus Christ and for their commitment to a life of service to the Church.

As a School of Theology, the Seminary provides a theological and philosophical foundation for men and women pursuing undergraduate and graduate studies; preparing for ministries among the people of God; and varied opportunities for continuing theological education.

Forming priests for God's people has remained the Seminary's constant focus, and the Seminary faculty—well-educated authors and scholars in their own fields—devote their time and energy to preparing these men for priesthood amidst the challenges of the 21st century. The School also focuses on the education of lay men and women in theology, permanent deacons, religious who are not studying for ordination, and already-ordained priests—not only providing for them academically, but also for their personal, pastoral, and spiritual formation.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr., and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff, and location. In keeping with the founder's wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion while maintaining a special commitment to its founder's hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate, and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

Categories: Faith and Service