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Faith Formation

New BC Program to Nurture Spirituality in High School Students

Fr. Casey Beaumier, director of BC's Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, and Kendra Butters, assistant director

In a time when fewer young people have a religious upbringing, Jesuit educators find themselves called to focus on faith formation with ever younger students.

"We ask ourselves, ‘How do we help people find spiritual depth in a time of superficiality?'" says Fr. Casey Beaumier, STL'05, PhD'13, director of Boston College's Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies (IAJS). "We must also ask, ‘How do we inspire young lives at pivotal moments?'"

Beginning this summer, BC will address those questions by opening its doors to high school students seeking to deepen their faith, expand their leadership skills, and explore Jesuit spirituality.

Named "Ever to Excel," it will be the first faith formation program exclusively for high school students at a Jesuit university. The new program will be housed in the IAJS, which was established in 2014 with support from the Light the World campaign, and which seeks to deepen understanding and appreciation of the history, spirituality, educational heritage, and pedagogical approach of the Society of Jesus.

"Ever to Excel will engage the hearts and minds of high school leaders through intensive experience of Jesuit spirituality and education," says Fr. Beaumier. "It's a natural fit with our institute's mission."

The pilot program will debut with 100 students recruited from across the U.S. and abroad, who will live together on campus. Participants will engage in five days of workshops, discussions, and other activities designed to strengthen their religious identity through the prism of Ignatian spirituality.

The program is funded by a $600,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment, which supports religious, education, and community development initiatives.

"A Mini BC Experience"

Ever to Excel students will encounter the best of Boston College inside and outside the classroom, says Assistant Director Kendra Butters. Current BC students will lead group interactions, acting as mentors and role models, and the program will incorporate elements of popular BC student formation initiatives such as Agape Latte and 4Boston. Students will also take field trips into Boston and throughout New England.

"Faith formation is one of our greatest strengths as a Jesuit, Catholic university," says Butters. "Ever to Excel lets us offer a mini BC experience that will hopefully prove transformative for these young people."

BC joins 81 other colleges and universities participating in the Lilly Endowment's high school youth theology institutes initiative, which aims to identify and cultivate youth who will grow into leaders in church and society.

"The Lilly Endowment believes that when young people engage with theological traditions, explore moral questions, and consider the call to service made by faith, they develop the spiritual muscles that tomorrow's leaders will need," says Fr. Beaumier. "At BC, and perhaps particularly in the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, we know that to be true. As St. Ignatius instructed, that is how we set the world aflame."

» Learn more at www.bc.edu/iajs.

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