Lilly Endowment Inc. has made a $7.9 million grant to the University of Notre Dame to support a collaboration with Boston College designed to grow the next generation of Hispanic Catholic pastoral leaders in the United States.
The grant is funding the creation of Haciendo Caminos, an initiative that will bring together 16 other Catholic institutions to address a critical disparity in the U.S. Catholic Church: Hispanic Catholics are the faith’s largest growing population, yet the number of U.S.-born Hispanic lay ministers, women and men religious, seminarians, priests and deacons serving in Catholic faith communities is relatively small.
Haciendo Caminos’ goals are to reduce barriers and increase support for graduate theological education for U.S.-born Hispanic Catholics; increase knowledge of, and interest in, ministerial professions among this population; and create a consortium of Catholic higher education institutions forming pastoral leaders at the graduate level in collaboration with local ecclesial organizations.
“This groundbreaking partnership has the potential to redefine how we think about theological and ministerial formation of Hispanic Catholic leaders,” said Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education and Chair of the Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry Department Hosffman Ospino, who will lead the project along with Timothy Matovina, professor and chair of the Department of Theology at Notre Dame.
“The evangelizing outreach of young leaders to their peers is our most effective means as a Church to inspire healing and faith among our younger sisters and brothers today,” said Matovina. “The present and future of Catholicism in this country will largely depend on how we engage and support young Latinas and Latinos in their faith journeys. If we desire a more vibrant and youthful Church, we need to personally invite young people to leadership and prioritize our collective support for them in their formation. That is why we are so grateful to Lilly Endowment and our partners in the Haciendo Caminos project.”
The institutions working with BC and Notre Dame on the initiative are Aquinas Institute of Theology, Barry University, Catholic Theological Union, Catholic University of America, Fordham University, Franciscan School of Theology (San Diego), Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University New Orleans, Mexican American Catholic College, Mount St. Mary’s University, Oblate School of Theology, Santa Clara University, St. John’s Seminary (Camarillo, California), and University of the Incarnate Word.
Notre Dame will oversee the management of the Haciendo Caminos grant, which is being funded through the third and final phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. Pathways is designed to help theological schools across the U.S. and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face in preparing pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.
Notre Dame is one of 16 theological schools that have received grants through the Pathways initiative to fund large-scale, highly collaborative programs. Lilly Endowment believes these programs have the potential to become models for other schools as they seek to strengthen the way they educate pastors and other congregational leaders.
“Theological schools play an essential role in ensuring that Christian congregations have a steady stream of well-prepared leaders to guide their ministries,” said Christopher L. Coble, the endowment’s vice president for religion. “Many theological schools believe that their paths to the future depend on their abilities to form strategic partnerships with other schools and church agencies. These grants will help seminaries develop innovative and collaborative approaches to theological education that we believe will strengthen their efforts to prepare and support excellent leaders for Christian communities into the future.”
Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.
University Communications | October 2022