Carroll Receives Grant to Encourage High School Youth to Explore Theology

Friday, January 22, 2016

HELENA – Carroll College has received a grant of $355,153 to establish The St. Kateri Institute for Integrative Learning. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.

The St. Kateri Institute for Integrative Learning at Carroll College provides high school youth with a spiritual and academic experience that develops their understanding of the relationship between faith and reason surrounded by the natural beauty of Montana. Through fun and engaging activities led by Carroll professors and students, participants explore academic studies as a contemplative undertaking that contributes to spiritual discernment. The week-long summer institute culminates with a capstone experience at Yellowstone National Park where participants will reflect on the beauty of God’s creation and their roles as Christian leaders in the future.

Dr. Eric Hall, the Hunthausen Professor of Peace and Justice at Carroll and director of the St. Kateri Institute states, “We really hope to help students overcome the chasm they oftentimes see between spiritual life and intellectual life. Only by overcoming this gulf can we engage in studies of, say, the environment with both a sense of objectivity and responsibility.”

By spending three days on the Carroll campus and three days in Yellowstone National Park, the curriculum will leverage Montana’s natural beauty to engage and contemplate the environment as the foundation for theological exploration, developing in students a spiritual, intellectual, and vocational framework for interacting responsibly with their natural surroundings. The one-week program for the summer of 2016 will be held June 25 through July 1. Participation is open to 40 high school aged students in the Pacific Northwest and participants are selected through an application process. More information will be available on the Carroll College website.

Carroll College is one of 82 schools participating in the initiative. Reflecting diverse and rich expressions of theological traditions, the colleges and universities are located in 29 states and the District of Columbia. The Endowment is giving $44.5 million in grants to help this select group of private four-year colleges and universities around the nation create these institutes. The grants are part of the Endowment’s commitment to identify and cultivate a cadre of theologically minded youth who will become leaders in church and society.

"These colleges and universities are well-positioned to reach out to high school students in this way," said Dr. Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment. "They have outstanding faculty in theology and religion who know how to help young people explore the wisdom of religious traditions and apply these insights to contemporary challenges.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons, J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grantmaking is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes.