USML/ Mundelein Seminary Awarded a $5,000,000 Grant

by on July 7, 2022


USML/Mundelein Seminary has received a $5,000,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. USML/Mundelein Seminary will be using these funds to develop the Cor Iuxta Meum (“After My Own Heart”) Project: an innovative effort focused on integrating new pedagogical methods into formation programs for seminarians, priests, and lay leaders within the Church.

For the Cor Iuxta Meum Project, USML/Mundelein Seminary will engage a broad collaboration among major Catholic seminaries in the United States and the dioceses they serve, as well as the Seminary Formation Council, an organization dedicated to the training of diocesan seminary formation faculty. This initiative is designed to achieve the goals of seminary formation as laid out by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, while also identifying and addressing the future needs of ministerial leadership in local church communities over the coming decades.

The project is being funded through the competitive third phase of Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative. The initiative is 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. Phase three grants are supporting a limited number of large-scale, collaborative efforts that explore and develop new educational and financial models for theological education. Lilly Endowment expects to award additional phase three grants in fall 2022.

A key component of the Cor Iuxta Meum Project is its focus on encounter-based formation, i.e., the principle that one’s self-reflective experience of multiple interpersonal encounters (with parishioners, family, colleagues, etc.) provides the best preparation for growth in the mastery of theology, the exercise of pastoral skills, and the deepening of one’s contemplative prayer life—all of which are critically important for the development of an effective priest or lay leader. Central to the project’s pedagogical innovation is the adaptation of the simulation learning methodology that has been successfully employed in the field of healthcare education for many decades.

“Our goal is to help the students become more effective leaders in parish settings, an environment in which their self­knowledge, resilience, and capacity for competent, compassionate interpersonal relating are paramount,” states Father John Kartje, rector of USML/Mundelein Seminary. Further, “we envision implementing encounter-based pedagogy within our ordained and lay leadership training programs, taking advantage of our university’s unique opportunity for forming ordained and lay leaders side-by-side, preparing them for the professional collaborative relationships they will soon be undertaking.” USML/Mundelein Seminary successfully introduced a pilot version of the simulation learning concept on a smaller scale during the 2020-2021 academic school year, as detailed in this video.

In addition to restructuring the traditional approach to seminary pedagogy, the grant award allows for constructing a complete simulation laboratory on the USML campus that will be fully outfitted for the unique needs of parish ministry. “This facility will allow us to maximally leverage the benefits of simulation learning while modifying applications that have previously been designed specifically for healthcare education,” says Father Kartje.

Under the guidance of USML/Mundelein Seminary, the Project’s consortium comprises Mount Angel Seminary (OR), Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary (MD), Saint Paul Seminary (MN), Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary (FL), Saint Mary Seminary (OH) and the Seminary Formation Council. Together, the schools and the Council will explore the most effective means for preparing select parish sites to complement and partner with the seminaries as centers of excellent formation within active parish ministry surroundings. This process will both benefit from, and enhance, the encounter-based pedagogy described above.

The project development and implementation will be aided by a team of national leaders in simulation and encounter-based pedagogy including researchers from Rosalind Franklin University, Marquette University, and the University of Notre Dame. As the project advances, collaboration will broaden to include non-Catholic seminaries and centers for ministry leadership development.


About Mundelein Seminary and the University of Saint Mary of the Lake: Mundelein Seminary, located on the campus of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake (USML), is the major seminary and graduate school of theology in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Led by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich as chancellor and Father John Kartje as rector, Mundelein Seminary educates seminarians from nearly 30 dioceses across the country and around the world. USML is the oldest university in Chicagoland and is composed of six schools and institutes, all devoted to ministry formation. USML serves approximately 1,000 students through its degree and certificate programs.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.:  Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion, and it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.