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Contact: Rev. Gregory Heille, O.P.

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Aquinas Institute of Theology

Receives Lilly Endowment Grant

to Improve the Economic Well-Being of Future Ministers


SAINT LOUIS – Aquinas Institute of Theology has received a $249,700 grant as part of Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. It is one of 67 theological schools across the country to receive this funding.


Personal financial pressures are severely limiting the ability of graduates of schools of theology to accept calls to Christian ministry and undermining the effectiveness of too many pastoral leaders. To help address this issue, Lilly Endowment created the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Issues Facing Future Ministers. The initiative’s aim is to encourage theological schools to examine and strengthen their financial and educational practices to improve the economic well-being of future pastors.

All theological schools fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada were invited to submit grant proposals. Aquinas Institute of Theology will use its funding to study the impact of student debt and provide financial counseling and career services to its students. The grant also help support a robust program of institutional advancement to support the needs of ministerial students.


Aquinas Institute of Theology, a Graduate School of Theology in the Catholic and Dominican tradition, seeks to educate men and women, lay and ordained, to preach, to teach, to minister, and to lead. Fr. David Caron, O. P., the president of Aquinas Institute, stated about the reception of this Lilly grant, “Today all education is expensive, including graduate theological education. Debt can prevent students from completing ministerial degrees or entering into the ministry for which they have been educated. The reception of this grant will help bolster Aquinas Institute of Theology’s understanding of the larger debt crisis, particularly as it impacts our institute’s admissions and retention efforts, assisting our students to thrive, and to graduate those who will be a success in ministry.”  

“Pastors are indispensable spiritual leaders and guides, and the quality of pastoral leadership is critical to the health and vitality of congregations,” said Christopher L. Coble, vice president for religion at the Endowment.


“Theological schools play a critical role in preparing pastors and are uniquely positioned to address some of the economic challenges they face,” Coble said. “The Endowment hopes that these grants will support broad efforts to improve the financial circumstances facing pastoral leaders so that pastors can serve their congregations more joyfully and effectively,” said Coble.


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 grant making 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. More information can be found at

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