College Students Chosen and Trained to Advise Bishops

by Casey McCorry

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Six universities and colleges have been asked to partner with Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University and the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management to address the growing challenge of keeping talented young adult Catholics engaged in church leadership roles following their graduation from university.

The program, ESTEEM–Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission—debuts this fall at St. Thomas More, Yale, Michigan State University, Stanford, Sacred Heart University, and UCLA.

Roughly a dozen students were selected from each school by priests, campus ministers, and lay ministers within their Campus chapels and will go through rigorous year of "training" where they will learn the fundamentals of Catholic ecclesiology and theology after which they will have opportunities to serve in local parishes or as "advisers" to bishops, priests, and lay leaders within their diocese.

“Each spring we have passionate, articulate, faithful leaders who leave our campus ministry programs and lose touch with the Church until they return to be married years later,” said Katie Byrnes, assistant chaplain at St. Thomas More Chapel. “This program seeks to empower young adults to take active roles in their parishes and with diocesan leaders when they leave their campuses.”

The Roundtable sought specifically students practiced in finance, management, medicine and human resource development. The students I know at Michigan State University ranged from pre-med majors, pre-law, to theology and business.

A concept was developed in 2002 at the height of the priest scandal. The selected students have been told they will be advising on a wide range of things including from the management of church funds to bio-ethics. It will be very interesting to see what this pilot develops into.

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