St. John Paul II Religious Education & Faith Formation

Announcing - 2020  St. John Paul II Fund Grant Applications are open for submission

Dear Priests, DREs, CREs, Youth Ministers and Parish Volunteers: For the third year, Parishes and Churches in the Diocese of Bridgeport are invited to apply for funding to spur innovative approaches that will and re-energize religious education programs, youth ministry initiatives or other faith formation projects that target underserved groups. All applications including the project budget  will be submitted online and are due by April 2, 2020.

A Grant Committee will review your grant requests and make recommendations for funding to the Foundations in Faith Board of Directors in June.

Click here for the 2020 Grant Criteria
and click here for the 2020 St. John Paul II Fund Grant Application

Please feel free to contact Kelly Weldon with questions after reviewing the criteria. Her email is


Distributed $115,000 to 25 Parish Projects in 2019
Program Support Grants: Responding to Bishop Caggiano’s invitation to lifelong formation, parishes and churches in the Diocese are invited to reimagine faith formation at every level. The Saint John Paul II Fund for Religious Education and Youth Ministry offers grant opportunities to assist their efforts. These grants are specifically designed to help diocesan parishes serve populations they may not have been able to serve before and to fund new, innovate approaches for vibrant faith formation programs. For more information on the grant process please visit Grants page. Click here to view this years recipients.

Distributed $12,000 to Diocesan Projects in 2019
General Operating Grant Awards: The Leadership Institute was invited to submit a request for funds to build on the momentum of the very successful and popular Family Bible Challenge program. Additional funds were allocated to scholarship under resourced youth attending leadership retreats.

Plans to distribute $10,000 to a Catholic High School and a High School Youth Group "Youth in Action" Grant in 2019
Special Grant Opportunities: Bishop Frank is eager to hear young people’s ideas on how best to re-energize the teen Catholic faith experience. According to Bishop Frank, “We need to listen to their voices, and give them the space and resources to design programs and projects that will resonate with them.” Bishop Frank challenges the teens to propose a project that includes elements of 1) collaboration 2) evangelization 3) mission work        

Click here for the Youth in Action grant information and the application




Numerous Grants and Awards totaling $437,000 for Pastoral Care Approved by the Foundations in Faith Board of Trustees in 2019

 BRIDGEPORT—On May 23, 2019 the board of trustee meeting began and closed with a prayer. The feeling of gratitude for the donors, priests, parish staff and the Catholic community who are all striving to grow closer to their faith and rebuild a community of compassion and devotion was abundant.

A full agenda included the St. John Paul II Fund Grant Review Committee recommendation for a total of $115,000 in funding for religious education and youth ministry programs in parishes across the Diocese of Bridgeport. Bishop Frank J. Caggiano stated that priority should be given to the projects or programs that demonstrate fresh new approaches in how we engage our parish members in faith formation.

According to Kelly Weldon, the Grant Review Committee consisted of five members: two Foundation in Faith board members, two staff at the Diocese of Bridgeport and one retired Director of Religious Education who is a strong community leader. The Grant Review Committee has met as a group four times for a total of approximately 20 hours per committee member. Every application was read, rated, reviewed and discussed as a committee.

“We were looking for innovation but also listening to needs that exist related to religious education,” says Weldon. “The committee dug deep and used great care to leverage the St. John Paul II funding for innovation as well as providing funding for parishes that need to shore up a solid platform to grow future innovative programs.”

“We are very excited about numerous vital new projects and look forward to showing them off and eventually replicating them in neighboring parishes” Weldon stated. “Of concern, however was the obvious existence of the ‘digital divide’. An issue that plagues Connecticut. Some parishes in our under-resourced communities lack the basic IT infrastructure to access current teaching tools for the youth and adult faith formation programs. It was also apparent that many parishes do not have money in their budget to hire a youth minister for the high school age youth.”

As one application reflected, “Confirmation does not mean graduation from learning about and experiencing the Catholic Faith. If we engage our teens after Confirmation, they will stay and grow into the next and needed generation of Catholic leaders.”

The Grant Review Committee agreed that parishes should make every effort to have an energetic, proactive youth minister and thus thought it was important to make a few, one-time investments. The committee felt that parishes will need to build the cost into their future budgets. It is evident that there is room for collaboration and youth minister job share opportunities are worth exploring. After meaningful discussion, the Foundations in Faith board unanimously approved the funding recommendations. The awardees will receive letters this week and a list of grants will be published on the Foundations in Faith website with regular project updates.

In addition to the St. John Paul II Fund grants, three other funds received board approval for funding. The St. Charles Borromeo Fund distributed $95,000 in awards for St. John Fisher Seminary, the Office of Vocations and Redemptoris Mater Diocesan Missionary Seminary. The St. John Vianney Fund, set up to support our retired priests, awarded $40,000 to Queen of the Clergy retirement residence for priests, located in Stamford, Conn. The Elizabeth Ann Seton Fund distributed $175,000 to support initiatives that provide special resources to our Catholic schools in order to keep tuition costs low and affordable to as many young people as possible.

Foundations in Faith currently has a total of eight funds; four are active and four await funding from the We Stand With Christ Campaign.


At the June Foundations in Faith an additional $22,000 of funding was approved. $10,000 for the Bishop's Youth in Action Grants and $12,000 in General Operating Grants for the Family Bible Challenge and Youth Retreat Stipends under the direction of the Leadership Institute.

(For more information and updates related to these Pastoral Care funds please visit: or email: