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December 2023

A large group of people with men in the foreground are walking towards the Mission Church.

A large group of people with men in the foreground are walking towards the Mission Church.

Santa Clara University Receives $1.25M To Establish The Institute For Parish Renewal

Grant will support ministerial training to benefit intercultural parishes across California.

The Lilly Endowment Inc. grant will support highly collaborative ministerial training models that will benefit intercultural parishes across California. 

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Dec. 18, 2023—Santa Clara University has been awarded a $1.25 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the Institute for Parish Renewal. The institute will be based in the Francis L. Markey Center for Leadership & Ministry (Markey Center) in the university’s Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries (GPPM). 

This five-year project is being funded through the Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The initiative aims to encourage the flourishing of congregations by helping them deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other, and contribute to the vitality of their communities and the world.

In the Catholic Church across the West, many parishes are increasingly intercultural and challenged to create cohesive communities and identities across constituent cultural groups. Generational and language differences between immigrant communities also challenge pastors and ministerial teams to find common charisms, engagement models, and Christian practices that anchor a thriving parish. Over the course of the grant, the Institute for Parish Renewal will support highly collaborative and case-based ministerial training models to benefit intercultural parishes across California. It will collaborate with at least two of GPPM’s ten Pacific Coast diocesan partners to: 

(1) develop, pilot, and implement a two-year parish renewal learning community that supports and guides cohorts of parish pastoral teams and key volunteers through a holistic ministry renewal process;

(2) design and produce a practical and dynamic parish renewal virtual toolkit; and 

(3) integrate curricula, resources, and expertise into the GPPM’s unit-bearing degree programs and Markey Center’s non-unit-bearing pastoral ministry training programs.

Janice Thornburg, Director of the Markey Center

Janice Thornburg, Director of the Markey Center

“Collaboration is vital to ministry, especially in parish settings,” says Joe Morris, director of GPPM. Janice Thornburg, director of the Markey Center, adds, “We are excited to explore with parishes their unique gifts and charisms and accompany them in developing resources and collaborative ministerial models that enhance their community and their living of the gospel.”

Santa Clara University is one of 105 organizations that has received grants through a competitive round of the Thriving Congregations Initiative. Reflecting a wide variety of Christian traditions, the organizations represent mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, peace church and Pentecostal faith communities. 

“Congregations play an essential role in deepening the faith of individuals and contributing to the vitality of communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “We hope that these programs will nurture the vibrancy and spark the creativity of congregations, helping them imagine new ways to share God’s love in their communities and across the globe.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private 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. While those gifts remain the 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 hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see

Media Contact
Lisa Robinson | SCU Media Communications | | 408-551-3601

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