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Sacred Heart, Bridgeport Diocese Offer Teens Summer Theology Program

From left are Sacred Heart University President John Petillo, Catholic Studies Chair Michelle Loris and Bishop Frank Caggiano in the Chapel of the Nativity.
From left are Sacred Heart University President John Petillo, Catholic Studies Chair Michelle Loris and Bishop Frank Caggiano in the Chapel of the Nativity. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — A $559,654 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. will help Sacred Heart University and the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport host a weeklong summer theology program next year.

“The SHU Journey: To God and the World through the Catholic Intellectual Tradition” will be offered to area high school students.

The program is part of the Lilly Endowment’s High School Youth Theology Institutes initiative, which seeks to encourage young people to explore their religious beliefs and concerns about contemporary challenges by studying theology and examining how faith calls them to lives of service. The grant, which will support the program for four years, will bring two dozen high school juniors and seniors to SHU’s Fairfield campus each year for a week of theological learning and reflection, community service, music ministry and fun.

“We are thrilled to receive this Lilly Endowment grant that allows us to partner with the Diocese of Bridgeport and host a comprehensive and enriching theology program for local youth,” said John Petillo, SHU president. “It is also wonderful to work with the diocese on such an important project and continue to do work that so clearly supports our mission.”

“The focus of this grant is to engage young people in understanding the Catholic intellectual tradition as a conversation between the great thinkers of Catholicism and the cultures in which they live asking fundamental questions about God, humanity, society and nature,” said Michelle Loris, chair of the university’s newly formed department of Catholic studies. “We want young people to understand the roots and development of the Catholic intellectual tradition and to see how it helps them understand themselves, their world and their relationship with God. We want to equip them with knowledge that will help them grow to become informed Catholics.”

Students will be recruited from diocesan Catholic high schools and local parishes. They will spend their mornings in classroom instruction on the theological foundations of the Catholic intellectual tradition, followed by small-group discussions. Afternoons will include community service arranged by the diocese and sessions of music ministry. Each day also will include Mass, prayer and recreation time.

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