Skip to main content


Alt text: Empty chapel with wooden pews and large stained-glass windows.

Alt text: Empty chapel with wooden pews and large stained-glass windows.

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University Awarded $1 Million Lilly Endowment Grant

Announcing the new Latina/o Theology and Ministry Leadership Network

BERKELEY, Calif., Dec. 7, 2021The Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to create the Latina/o Theology and Ministry Leadership Network.  The project will be co-sponsored by the University’s Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries, School of Education and Counseling Psychology, and My Own Business Institute to diversify the range of pastoral and ministerial education and skill-development offerings available in English and Spanish. 

The project is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative, which is a three-phase initiative designed to help theological schools in the U.S. and Canada prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges they face as they prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations.

The Latina/o Theology and Ministry Leadership Network aims to bring together educational institutions, dioceses and congregations, philanthropies, and other organizations throughout the West region for two purposes:

First, create high-quality education and professional training programs in accessible formats that are relevant to Latina/o pastoral ministers and those serving Latina/o congregations with various educational credentials.

Second, establish formal pathways that identify and support emerging Latina/o pastoral leaders through their vocational discernment processes and align scholarship resources, paid internships, and job placements to make graduate education possible and fruitful. Across both purposes, the Network seeks to develop approaches—including mentoring and communities of practice—to enrich collaborative and hybrid teaching and learning models that bridge distances, reduce costs, and enhance the diversity of offerings to expand access to advanced degrees.

“We are being called to respond to major demographic shifts and changes in congregational life and practice among U.S. Catholic communities, especially in parts of the West Coast where 65 percent of Catholics now come from Latina/o communities increasingly composed of bilingual second- and third-generation immigrants,” says Joseph G. Mueller, S.J., dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.  “Our Jesuit institution can now prepare to serve the aspirations of our Catholic partners for the flourishing of Hispanic communities in our region.”

The Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University is one of 84 theological schools receiving a total of more than $82 million in grants through the Pathways Initiative. Together, the schools represent evangelical, mainline Protestant, non-denominational, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, and Black churches, as well as historic peace church traditions (for example, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Quakers). Many schools also serve students and pastors from Latina/o, Korean American, Chinese American and recent immigrant Christian communities.

“Theological schools have long played a pivotal role in preparing pastoral leaders for churches,” says 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 Inc. launched the Pathways Initiative in January 2021 to enhance and sustain the vitality of Christian congregations by strengthening the leadership capacities of pastors and congregational lay leaders. 


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 developmenteducation 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 Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

The Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University is an international center of scholarly and ministerial formation. The faculty and student body are composed of lay men and women, Jesuits, clergy, and members of other religious orders. Rooted in the Catholic and Ignatian traditions, JST engages in ecumenical, interfaith, and intercultural dialogue through the Graduate Theological Union. Distinguished faculty encourage students to think critically about theology and how to justly live out their faith in service of the Church and the global community.

JST is the only school west of Chicago with an ecclesiastical faculty approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education to grant degrees in the name of the Pope. JST is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the American Association of Theological Schools, and by the Vatican Congregation of Catholic Education as an Ecclesiastical Faculty of Theology. 

Media Contacts
Deepa Arora | SCU Communications |