Graduating to parish life and leadership

ESTEEM student leaders at St. Thomas More Newman Center at Ohio State University in Columbus participate in a leadership retreat in October 2015. (St. Thomas More Newman Center)

A program to inspire and equip young adult Catholic college students to engage in church leadership roles as they graduate has more than doubled the number of campuses it serves since its 2009 founding.

"ESTEEM's focus is on lay leadership and engagement," explains Katie Diller, national coordinator of Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission.

"Of course, we are delighted when students go on to work in pastoral ministry positions, but our emphasis is on the idea that every lay Catholic has a role to play in contributing to the strength of parishes, dioceses and Catholic nonprofits," she said. "Numerous ESTEEM alumni have gone on to post-grad volunteering experiences through Catholic organizations, and many have reported active volunteer experiences with their parishes."

A joint project of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and Yale University's St. Thomas More Chapel, the ESTEEM Leadership Program has grown from six participating schools to a dozen.

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