Meg Mirshak | January 19, 2018
The McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame has been awarded $1 million by Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand programs for ordained and lay pastoral leaders in a shifting ministry landscape. As recipient of planning funds for the Thriving in Ministry Initiative, the McGrath Institute will expand its summer program for diocesan priests and initiate a program that supports the professional and pastoral leadership development of lay ministers early in their careers.
The Thriving in Ministry Initiative supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry. The McGrath Institute is one of 24 organizations receiving grants totalling more than $20 million from the initiative.
“The shifting trends in Church ministry signal a strong need for programs dedicated to ongoing formation, support, and mentorship of leaders entrusted with teaching and shepherding Catholics across the United States and globe,” said John Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life. “The generosity of Lilly Endowment will generate long-lasting impact and bear abundant fruit for the life of the Catholic Church.”
With the Lilly Endowment grant, the McGrath Institute will continue the Bishop D’Arcy Program in Priestly Renewal, which began in 2016 to provide a weeklong retreat for about a dozen diocesan priests on the Notre Dame campus. The program seeks to support leader priests so that they can form and mentor younger priests who are fewer in number but will be asked to do more for longer during their ministerial careers. Since 1965, the number of U.S. Catholic priests has dropped 36 percent, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Of the 37,000 priests today, just over 60 percent are active in ministry compared to 94 percent active priests in 1965.
The second initiative of the planning grant will address the rising total of lay professional ministers in the United States. Since 1995, the number of lay professional ministers has increased from 11,000 to 23,000, according to CARA. An additional 23,000 are enrolled in lay ecclesial formation programs.