COLLEGEVILLE -- The St. John’s School of Theology has picked up a major grant.

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The Lily Foundation’s ‘Pathways to Tomorrow’ Initiative has awarded the School of Theology A $5,000,000 grant to help develop a program to deliver the latest training and resources to churches nationwide, especially in rural areas.

Shawn Colberg is the Dean of the School of Theology and Seminary at St. John’s University. He says the program will help answer some of the difficult questions priests and ministers get asked.

Part of the challenge we're seeing, in Christian congregations and in the US Catholic Church, is some of the political polarization is bleeding into church life and pastors and priests and are having to begin to grapple with some of the more charged political questions that people are bringing to their faith lives.

The program will start training students this fall, and will work with partner churches to find the types of programs most in demand.

Colberg says the grant aims to get the latest training to churches that have smaller staffs.

There's two targets here, what we call lay ministers who are doing youth ministry, parish nurses, liturgy, those kinds of things. And then deacon candidates, we're really trying to give diocese an opportunity to have access to high end degree programs for the deacon formation.

Part of the new program features a partnership with the Mexican American Catholic College to help area churches reach out to the needs of the local Hispanic population.


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