NOTRE DAME — Picture this: 60 high-school teens gathered on a college campus for a week, meeting in cohorts to ask deeply-probing, cul turally-relevant questions regarding the intersection of Catholicism and social issues. Now imagine those emerging leaders bringing these discussions to life, taking their faith into the community to impact social change and cultivate a habit of service. This formation and experiential learning is exactly what will be coming to the campus of Holy Cross College this July as they launch their summer Saints and Scholars Institute, a week-long intensive program of “Theology for Emerging Leaders” that invites high school youth to ask relevant questions, explore the wisdom of theological tradition, and examine how their faith calls them to a life of service.
The emerging leaders will be placed in a cohort of 15 peers and will spend their week focusing on one of four tracks, each of which explore how theology is relevant to a specific social challenge: public health, immigration, the media and sustainability. Each day, there will be two seminars for each track, one looking to the wisdom of Sacred Scripture and the other focusing on a key theological text from Catholic Tradition. These discussion-filled seminars guide emerging leaders as they recognize the relevance of theology on societal issues, find their theological voice, and explore resonances between the mission of the Church and the need for justice in the world.
After lunch, emerging leaders will spend their afternoons engaging in experiential learning with one of the program’s four community partners: St. Joseph Health System, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Redeemer Radio of Michiana and Unity Gardens.
Participants will exercise skillsets that invite them to emerge in the Church and in their community as leaders of social change. After an afternoon of service, the four cohorts will return to campus for an evening of activities.
The Saints and Scholars Institute is directed by Dr. Michael Griffin, associate professor and chair of the Department of Theology at Holy Cross College, and is led by an experienced and knowledgeable team of faculty and staff from Holy Cross College and the University of Notre Dame. Each cohort will have Holy Cross College student mentors.
This program is designed to cultivate emerging leaders and to allow this week of formation to continue to transform how participants interact in the world long after the week is complete. Dr. Griffin shares, “It’s not just one week and done. We want those who attend to be leaders in the community and Church.”
Dr. Griffin continues, “Much of the culture looks away from Catholic tradition for public wisdom. We will be looking toward that tradition. It’s not a question of Church or community or of Church or public wisdom. It’s Church and community, Church and public wisdom.”
Andrew Polaniecki, director of Formation and Recreation for the Saints and Scholars Institute and director of Campus Ministry at Holy Cross College, has a vision that “Saints and Scholars will provide a dynamic, challenging and authentic experience where students will engage their minds and hearts and develop their gifts to make God known, loved and served.”
The Saints and Scholars Institute derives directly from the heart of the Holy Cross College’s mission “to form global citizens with the competence to see and the courage to act.” Relationship-based experiential education is central to learning in the tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, helping young people discover and nourish their vocational calling.
The camp will have two one-week sessions: Sunday, July 17 to Friday, July 22, and Sunday, July 24 to Friday, July 29. The program is working with Notre Dame Vision and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend bcX conference, inviting participants of more than one of these programs to stay on campus at Holy Cross College on the weekend between, providing room, board and programming.
The program is made possible by a grant of $600,000 received by Holy Cross College, from Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes. This grant subsidizes the cost for students to attend, making the registration fee very affordable.
Interested youth are invited to visit www.hcc-nd.edu/ssi. Applications are now being accepted on the website.
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