October 4, 2023

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary Awarded $1.2 Million Grant From Lilly Endowment, Inc. To Create Catholic Preaching Institute

The new Institute will offer multiple programs to revive
compelling preaching throughout the archdiocese and beyond.

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to support the creation of a Catholic Preaching Institute. This award stands as the largest foundation grant ever received by the Seminary in its history, which spans more than 190 years.

The five-year grant is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative, which aims to foster and support preaching that inspires, encourages, and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully. Saint Charles was the only Catholic seminary in the country named as a recipient of one of the eighty-one grants awarded in the initiative this year.

The initiative is also providing grants to other Catholic educational institutions engaged in the theological formation of preachers, including the Catholic Theological Union at Chicago, the Catholic University of America, Marian University, Saint John’s University, and Seton Hall University.  

Other Catholic recipients benefitting from this initiative are the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Catholic Extension (in Chicago), Corazón Puro (formed under the guidance of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Bronx, New York), and the St. Thomas More Catholic Community in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Reflecting the diversity of Christianity in the United States, the organizations receiving grants through the Compelling Preaching Initiative are affiliated with mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist and Pentecostal faith communities. Many of the organizations are rooted in the Black Church and in Hispanic and Asian American Christian traditions.

Lilly Endowment launched the Compelling Preaching Initiative in 2022 because of its interest in supporting projects that help to nurture the religious lives of individuals and families and foster the growth and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.

Reverend Keith J. Chylinski, the Seminary’s rector, highlights the strategic opportunity this grant provides. “As Saint Charles Seminary relocates to our new campus, the Catholic Preaching Institute represents an exciting new venture in the continuing formation of seminarians and ordained clergy. Through its innovative work, we hope to spark a homiletic revival that benefits the spiritual life of all the faithful whom we serve.”

The Catholic Preaching Institute will engage both Archdiocesan clergy and parishioners, enabling the former to prepare and deliver more impactful homilies, while helping the latter to appreciate more fully the power of the Word of God.

Among its planned activities, the Institute will conduct year-long mentoring programs in which “disciples of the Word” – teams comprised of master preachers and lay evaluators – work directly with priests and deacons to help them improve their craft.

The Institute also plans to undertake research into the state of Catholic preaching in the archdiocese, to provide weekly biblical commentaries from and for parishioners, to offer digital workshops for priests and deacons, to sponsor a neighborhood sermon series, and to host an annual “festival of the Word” held at the Seminary.

“Throughout history, preachers often have needed to adapt their preaching practices to engage new generations of hearers more effectively,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We are pleased that the organizations receiving grants in this initiative will help pastors and others in ministry engage in the kinds of preaching needed today to ensure that the gospel message is heard and accessible for all audiences.”

The work of the Catholic Preaching Institute, which begins operation in 2024, will be directed by the seminary’s Cardinal Foley Chair of Homiletics and Social Communications, currently held by Oblate Father Thomas Dailey. More information about its programs, including opportunities for anyone interested to engage in the various activities, will be posted on a forthcoming website at www.scs.edu/preaching.


Editor’s Notes:

About the Seminary

Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, founded in 1832 as the Roman Catholic seminary for the Diocese of Philadelphia, remains the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. With one of the larger incoming classes in several years, its current enrollment numbers 145 seminarians, 72 of whom are studying for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Operating continuously for the last 192 years, the Seminary forms future priests not only for this archdiocese but also for 14 partner dioceses in the U.S. and abroad, as well as three religious congregations. Through its School of Theological Studies, the Seminary also offers educational opportunities – both online and onsite – for consecrated religious and for lay women and men interested in ministry and service. For more information, call 610-667-3394 or visit www.scs.edu.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K., Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.

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Alaina N. Longo
Deputy Communications Officer
215-587-3747 (office)