Growing numbers of lay students preparing for ministry are a gift of the Holy Spirit. These students bring new skills and new ways of preaching the Gospel. Their vocations help priests, who are fewer in number, provide high quality ministry to growing numbers of Catholics.
The gift of this expanded ministry also presents a challenge: the education of these lay ministers is costly. A full-time student at Aquinas Institute, for example, pays about $15,000 per year in tuition. Books, travel, and living expenses are additional. We provide as much scholarship aid as we can, but many of our students will have to borrow money to finance their educations. Considering that the average starting salary for lay ministers is about $34,000, repaying those loans represents significant challenges.
Because priesthood candidates must complete five full years of study plus a year-long internship, total costs for their education can easily top $200,000. Virtually all of their tuition and living expenses are covered by donations and friends like you.
What is more, tuition revenue does not cover the actual cost of instruction. We must raise more than $8700 per student annually to meet instructional costs.
You can help in two ways.
First, we are in need of gifts to our annual fund to bridge the gap between tuition revenue and actual instructional expenses. A $660 gift will cover one credit hour of a course such as Preaching, which is based on the Pope’s call to better preaching. A $1320 gift will pay for one student to take a course such as Liturgical Leadership, a hands-on approach to performing rites for the noon-ordained may lead in the course of their ministries. A $2000 gift will finance a student’s supervised practice of ministry – a semester-long study in chaplaincy, hospice, or other ministry in which they spend five hours a week working and being evaluated for their suitability as a minister.
Second, we have long-term funding needs. Like most seminaries and schools of theology, Aquinas Institute’s scholarship funds are modest. We need a regular stream of investment income to pay faculty salaries and provide student scholarships. A deferred or planned gift of $1 million will permanently fund a faculty position. A gift of $300,000 will permanently fund a full-time student scholarship.