IREPM Starts Lay Minister Scholarships

By Kathleen Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College's Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, in keeping with its long-standing tradition of service to the dioceses of New England, has announced a new scholarship fund aimed at helping lay ministers finance their graduate education.

The Boston College Loyola Scholarship will provide significant tuition remission to any minister or educator working full or part time in a New England diocese. Ministers who have been faithful volunteers in a parish or other diocesan setting for five or more years and have a letter from their pastor or supervisor also are eligible. In addition, the scholarship includes matching funds for those students whose parish or school contributes to their education.

"The Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry has always been one of the many ways Boston College lives out its support to Catholic education," said University President William Leahy, SJ. "The Loyola Scholarship is another way of expressing that commitment. This really is an unprecedented opportunity to engage in graduate level work at a major Catholic university."

"The strongest barrier to the ongoing education of Catholic ministers today is financial," said IREPM Director Claire Lowery. "We have reached a point in the life of the Church where there is an increasing need for Catholic parishes, schools and hospitals to have well-educated and spiritually formed personnel. Many who want to serve in these areas have found it difficult to be adequately educated and trained due to monetary concerns. With the Loyola Scholarship, Boston College is making a strong statement about its willingness to do what it can to support the Church in New England.

"The matching fund commitment also invites those institutions and communities who directly benefit from a student's education to share financial responsibility," Lowery added.

One of the first Loyola Scholarships has been awarded to Nancy Bouchard of Brighton. For the past five years, Bouchard - who works as a dental hygienist during the day - has volunteered in young adult ministry programs at St. Ignatius Parish and the Archdiocese of Boston.

"This opportunity to continue my education at the graduate level is exciting," said Bouchard. "At the institute, I have learned much that I have taken back to both my ministry and professional work. The financial assistance the Loyola Scholarship is providing will assist me in completing my certificate. I hope that my efforts in continuing my education will open new experiences in ministry in the Church."

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