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OLLU receives $300,000 grant from Lilly Endowment

Oct 23, 2019

OLLU has received a $300,000 grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., to continue a summer theological institute that helps high school students explore vocation, service, prayer, faith traditions and spirituality in art and culture.

The program, "Encuentro," is open to beginning high school juniors and seniors from Catholic parishes and high schools in San Antonio, Texas. The students live in the OLLU residence halls during the week-long institute, attend classes and participate in service projects. Encuentro was launched in 2016 with Lilly Endowment funding as part of of the Lilly Endowment's national initiative, High School Youth Theology Institutes at Colleges and Universities.

"This sustainability grant will help us continue to reach out to rising high school juniors and seniors who are interested in exploring a deeper understanding of what vocation means," said Gloria Urrabazo, vice president for Mission and Ministry." This institute is called, 'Theological Exploration of Vocation.' It is a seven-day institute that introduces our high school students to engage with faculty and our student mentors to study, reflect and engage in a service project so they can explore how one finds a call and what kind of service we are each called to do."

The institute provides workshops that will help students dive into the depths of vocation. Ritual and scripture are key components that are taught through the institute, thus exposing students to various prayer forms and helping them discover how to use the scriptures in prayer.

"We are excited to be able to bring high school students to campus for this program," Urrabazo said, "so they can, in turn, take what they learn back into their parishes and high schools."

Faculty from OLLU, the Oblate School of Theology and Mexican American Catholic College will work with the high school students. OLLU students will serve as mentors. 

OLLU president Diane Melby, EdD, says the grant funding will enable the university to advance its mission.

"The 'Encuentro' program will provide an excellent avenue for sharing OLLU's unique strengths in service learning, leadership development and faith exploration,"  Dr. Melby said.