Twenty-eight parishes from four dioceses have been selected to participate in the Apollos Project, a five-year initiative intended to foster a greater sense of responsibility among Catholics and ease workloads for pastors.
Each parish will identify a candidate to pursue a master’s degree at Aquinas Institute, and when that parishioner graduates, he or she will become a paid lay minister of the parish. These parishes will serve as incubators for a model of ministry that has been loosely forming for decades but is not yet organized or widely identified –a model in which pastors and professionally trained laypeople form teams to meet the needs of their communities.
Students from several of the parishes will begin classes in August 2005. Students from the remaining parishes will begin classes in August 2006. Those parishes will go through a more extensive process of identifying needs of their communities and surfacing a candidate for graduate study to fulfill those needs.
The Apollos Project is sponsored by Aquinas Institute in partnership with Lilly Endowment Inc., a private foundation based in Indianapolis, which awarded the school a $1.7 million grant.
Through the grant, Aquinas Institute will provide scholarships to students identified by their parishes as candidates for ministry, offer additional support and training for pastors and parishes throughout the initiative, and embark upon a communications campaign to raise awareness about the importance of a participative laity.
“Catholics in the pews have become passive,” said Fr. Charles Bouchard, O.P., president of Aquinas Institute. “They are accustomed to having priests provided for them. This project should remind each of us that the Church belongs to every Catholic, and we must concern ourselves with identifying and supporting lay leaders who will work collaboratively with priests to keep our parishes viable and spiritually nourishing.”
The following parishes have been chosen to participate in the project:
Diocese of Belleville
Immaculate Conception, Centreville
Immaculate Conception, Columbia
Queen of Peace, Scott Air Force Base in Mascoutah
St. Bruno, Pinckneyville
St. Clare, O’Fallon
St. Joseph, Olney
St. Mary, Carlyle
St. Michael Paderborn, Waterloo
St. Nicholas, O’Fallon
St. Peter Cathedral, Belleville
St. Rose of Lima, Metropolis
St. Rose, St. Rose
St. Stephen, Caseyville
St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, Belleville
Sts. Peter and Paul, Waterloo
Archdiocese of St. Louis
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Ferguson
Holy Spirit Church, Maryland Heights
Holy Trinity Church, St. Ann
Immaculate Conception, Arnold
St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Louis
St. Charles Lwanga Center, St. Louis
St. Cronan, St. Louis
St. Ignatius Loyola, Marthasville
St. Norbert, Florissant
Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau
Immaculate Conception, Jackson
Diocese of Springfield in Illinois
Church of St. Jude, Rochester
Sts. Peter and Paul, Collinsville
St. Jerome, Troy