Seton Hall University seminary school awarded grant of nearly $1 million

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University has received a grant of $989,384 from Lilly Endowment Inc. to facilitate “The 4:12 Pathway for Pastoral Leadership: Building an Authentic Culture of Discernment, Encouragement and Accompaniment,” a project designed to foster new energy and growth in ICSST’s academic and formation programs.

The effort is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. It is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools across the United States and Canada as they prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

The purpose of The 4:12 Pathway project is to enable ICSST to create and sustain a series of key initiatives for the renewed formation of pastoral leadership by the seminary and with engaged collaborators. ICSST drew the project’s title from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 4:11-13: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

“These verses remind us that we need to rely on God’s grace to fulfill our unique calling, which is meant for us as individuals and the Body of Christ, the Church,” said Monsignor Joseph Reilly, rector/dean of ICSST. “We believe we are called by God to co-labor in the work of equipping God’s people to build up the Body of Christ and that this work takes on new implications in the context of today’s unique challenges and crises. Each proposed initiative addresses the requirement of theological schools to attend to the spiritual and character formation of future pastoral leaders. The project takes this aspect of formation to heart in each initiative.” 

“Implementing The 4:12 Pathway project at ICSST will be an act of love in the spirit of St. Paul the Apostle and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, patron and namesake of Seton Hall University,” said Dianne M. Traflet, associate dean for graduate studies and administration, and assistant professor of pastoral theology of ICSST. “Further, we dedicate our corporate efforts, that is, the work of our spiritual and academic community, to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for whom our Seminary School of Theology takes its name. Therefore, it is a joy for us to put forward our hearts and minds with the work of our hands and the assistance of Lilly Endowment. We trust that, together, we are on a pathway toward true discipleship and leadership in the service of our lord.”

ICSST is one of 84 theological schools receiving more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. The awarded schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and black church and historic peace church traditions, such as the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites and Quakers. Many schools also serve students and pastors from black, Latino, Korean American, Chinese American and recent immigrant Christian communities.

“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” said Christopher L. Coble, the endowment’s vice president for religion. “Today, these schools find themselves in a period of rapid and profound change. Through the Pathways Initiative, theological schools will take deliberate steps to address the challenges they have identified in ways that make the most sense to them. We believe that their efforts are critical to ensuring that Christian congregations continue to have a steady stream of pastoral leaders who are well-prepared to lead the churches of tomorrow.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Pathways initiative in January 2021 because of its longstanding interest in supporting efforts to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders.

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