Grant to Boost I.R.E.P.M. Program

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry has received a three-year, $400,000 grant from the Connelly Foundation of Philadelphia, which will strengthen a scholarship program established through a grant made three years ago.

"I have found it to be a special privilege to work in partnership with the Connelly Foundation," said Adj. Assoc. Prof. Claire Lowery (Theology), IREPM's director. "The foundation has taken a special interest in the institute's mission of educating pastoral ministers and religious educators for a world Church. Their evaluation of our contribution to the Church in the Delaware Valley area of Pennsylvania was most affirming."

"The foundation has followed the progress of the program very closely," said Prof. Thomas Groome (Theology), chair of the institute's Connelly Fund Committee and its liaison to the foundation. "Their interviews with the men and women who have benefited from the program convinced them it is a worthwhile endeavor, one they want to continue supporting."

The scholarship program provides support for Catholic educators and ministers from - or willing to relocate to - the Delaware Valley to come to Boston College for continuing education, sabbatical renewal and degree studies in education and ministry. Over 120 people have participated in the program since it was formed through a $200,000 grant from the foundation in 1992. The participants come from diverse backgrounds and experiences in ministry, Lowery noted, and have gone on to work in critical areas such as prison ministry, AIDS and homelessness.

Lowery said the grant will also enable the institute to develop an extension program in the Delaware Valley next fall, in which IREPM faculty will offer courses and workshops for Catholic educators and ministers who cannot travel to Boston. Groome, for example, will present two workshops during the next academic year on "Spiritual Foundations for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry." The extension site will be located at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, Pa.

Lowery praised the contribution of Groome in fostering the relationship between IREPM and the Connelly Foundation. The educational proposal he designed for the partnership, she said, could serve as a model "for other foundations committed to furthering the educational ministries of the Church."

"This is the type of program a Catholic foundation interested in supporting the ministry can consider," Groome said. "As lay people play an increasingly important role in the Church, a foundation or organization making this kind of contribution can have an impact on the future of Catholic ministry."

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