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Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Saint Mary Seminary Receives $1 Million Grant for Seminary Formation from the Lilly Endowment, Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative

Press Releases

November 29, 2021

Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, Wickliffe, has received a one-million-dollar grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to improve the evaluation and training of priests for the Diocese of Cleveland.

The grant has been 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.

Vibrant, healthy parishes are Christ-centered and filled with a deep sense of prayerful and missionary purpose. They are deeply nourishing, profoundly welcoming, and abundant with the transcendent Spirit that allows them to reach far beyond themselves. Their spirituality, ministry, and social outreach are rooted in a Sunday worship that extends out into the surrounding community and beyond. Typically, at the hub of a healthy parish is a pastoral leader working collaboratively and co-responsibly with a leadership team that honors and supports the baptismal call of all parishioners. Vibrant healthy parishes depend on vibrant healthy leadership.

For more than 170 years, Saint Mary Seminary has served the Diocese of Cleveland as place of formation for men studying for the ordained Catholic priesthood, and for women and men who are pursuing advanced theological degrees in lay pastoral ministry and the permanent diaconate.

Saint Mary Seminary has experienced significant renewal over the last decade, but more is needed to better evaluate and form clergy and lay leadership. The Seminary is committed to producing healthy and holy ministers, and essential to this goal is the evaluative feedback from the people in the community.

As President-Rector of Saint Mary Seminary, Fr. Mark Latcovich, Ph.D., stated, “For the past forty years there has been a fruitful collaboration between the Seminary and our local parishes. This new process will allow a renewed effort to listen to the people in the pews about the readiness of candidates for ordained ministry and provide a more comprehensive profile of our seminarians.”

In January the Seminary will begin a five-year strategic process for equipping parishes with resources, tools, and training so that the candidates in their field education assignments are better prepared to serve the Church as holy shepherds and leaders. Parishes participating in this process will be enriched in their leadership as they reflect upon Christ’s mandate to “go and make disciples.” (Matt 28:19)

Saint Mary Seminary is one of 84 theological schools that are receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the second phase of the Pathways initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, nondenominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Black church and historic peace church traditions (e.g., Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, 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.


Rev. Andrew B. Turner

Deacon Jim Armstrong, APR
216-696-6525 Ext. 3290

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. The primary aim of its grantmaking in religion, which is national in scope, focuses on strengthening the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States. The Endowment also seeks to foster public understanding about religion and lift up in fair, accurate and balanced ways the contributions that people of all faiths and religious communities make to our greater civic well-being.

About the Diocese of Cleveland
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland was founded on April 23, 1847. Under the leadership of the Most Reverend Edward C. Malesic, Bishop of Cleveland, it is the 23rd largest diocese in the United States and encompasses the counties of Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Medina, Wayne, and Ashland. There are approximately 700,000 Catholics in the Diocese, and Catholic Charities-Diocese of Cleveland is one of the largest diocesan systems of social services in the world. There are 185 parishes, 110 Catholic schools, 1 pastoral center and 1 mission office within the Diocese.

About Saint Mary Seminary
Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology and Borromeo College Seminary serves the Diocese of Cleveland and Diocese of Youngstown in preparing candidates for the Roman Catholic priesthood and provides advanced theological education to lay and religious men and woman. Currently there are seventy-two seminarians who reside at the Seminary, and over one-hundred lay men and women who are pursuing graduate and post-graduate degrees. Please go to our website, for more information about the mission and ministries of our seminary.

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