In partnership with several undergraduate institutions and Dominican-order affiliated colleges, Aquinas Institute of Theology initiated a five-year program to identify and recruit college-age candidates for ordained and lay ministry within the Roman Catholic Church. The Institute added additional resources to its admissions office to provide assistance with vocations discernment and coordinate recruitment activities. The major thrust of the program lay in the two-week summer program, “Ministry in the Mountains” held each summer during 3rd, 4th, and 5th years of the grant period. “Ministry in the Mountains” drew together twenty students from several different colleges and cultural backgrounds each year to be introduced to ministry, theology, preaching and liturgical leadership through guided theological reflections. In addition, the Institute renewed focus on spiritual formation in the course curriculum it offered, established scholarships for M. Div. degrees, and established a ministry placement service for graduates.
The program resulted in the Institute’s ongoing partnership with several undergraduate institutions to identify and recruit candidates for lay and ordained ministry; it also led to the realization that many student right out of the college lack the emotional and spiritual maturity to begin full-time ministry study, and the process of discerning and achieving greater clarity about vocational goals may take several years.