The St. John Paul II Fund for Religious Education and Faith Formation
As St. John Paul II said of young people, "The Church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideas in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society.
Foundations in Faith recognizes that parishes in the Diocese need creative and innovative approaches to faith formation for children and teenagers. And the St. John Paul II Fund for Religious Education and Faith Formation can be an invaluable tool for such endeavors.
The St. John Paul II Fund supports parishes and Diocesan efforts in several ways. Learn about them below:
ANNUAL PARISH SUPPORT GRANTS
Applications for parish support grants will go live in February 2022.
The programs proposed by these grants usually run from September to June, and applicants can apply for up to $10,000. Applications typically go live in February and close in April, with a final decision being made by the Board of Trustees in June.
Past recipients of parish support grants have emphasized three criteria: creativity, innovation, and youth engagement in planning.
For the 2021-2022 academic year, Foundations in Faith awarded $87,500 to 14 parishes and ministries through the St. John Paul II Fund's parish support grants. Learn more about their proposed programs below:
- Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford: Recipient of two grants. The first will help fund the Catholic Adventures program at the parish, while the second will provide 15 half-scholarships for youth group members to attend Camp Veritas.
- Christ the King Parish, Trumbull: Will provide students in parish sacramental preparation programs and their families with needed materials, including the Great Adventure Catholic Bible.
- Church of the Assumption, Westport: Will plant a garden where parishioners can pray, contemplate and gather together.
- Holy Name of Jesus Church, Stratford: Will offer choices for faith formation efforts, including in-person and Zoom classes, homeschooling, and monthly family activities.
- Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Quasi Parish, Bridgeport: Will help the young parish's 100-member strong youth group provide more vibrant, faith-based activities.
- Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Fairfield: Will create a service-oriented program for students in first through fifth grades, mentored by teen parish leaders.
- Saint Ann Church, Bridgeport: Will promote the church's bilingual faith formation group.
- Saint Augustine Cathedral Parish, Bridgeport: Will help fund a catechism program and a DRE, in addition to a youth group of post-Confirmation teenagers.
- Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Trumbull: Will help fund the formation and recruitment of members for a parish youth group.
- Saint George Parish, Bridgeport: Will help fund a children's ministry, a family catechesis program, and a children and teen choir.
- Saint Mary Parish, Stamford: Will help implement a religious education project for the parish's younger members.
- Saint Patrick Church, Redding: Will help create new youth ministry programs and activities outdoors to combat the spread of COVID-19.
- Saint Paul Roman Catholic Church, Greenwich: Will create a four-time forum for parents to engage speakers and learn about their role as their children's primary religion teachers.
- Saint Rose of Lima Church, Newtown: Will help build a digital missionary initiative where high school students can use social media as an evangelization tool.
YOUTH IN ACTION GRANTS
Applications for Youth in Action grants will go live on October 4, 2021 at 10 a.m. on the Youth in Action page.
Youth in Action grant applicants can request up to $5,000 for a program to run from January to December of the application year. Applications should be "by youth and for youth" to deepen and enhance how youth experience Catholic faith formation.
Applicants for Youth in Action grants must meet the following criteria:
- Must be a Catholic high school, a parish high school youth group, or a young adult Catholic group (ages 20-35)
- Must incorporate two of the three following elements: evangelization, collaboration, and racial justice and equity
In 2021, Foundations in Faith awarded Youth in Action grants to the following ministries:
- Crossroads 4 Christ, Fairfield and Stamford: Funded a Diocesan-wide "win" event intended to inspire those on the periphery to take intentional steps to (or back to) the Church.
- Our Lady of Fatima Church, Bridgeport: Funded the creation of Our Lady's Garden, a prayer garden venerated to Mary that will also provide produce for the parish's food pantry.
- Saint Theresa Church, Trumbull: Funded a youth day at the church with teenagers from all four of Trumbull's Catholic parishes, complete with games, activities, food trucks, a speaker and outdoor Mass and adoration.
Applications for mini grants occur on a rolling basis by invitation only
Mini grants are provided to parishes or Diocesan initiatives that demonstrate exceptional innovation or need related to faith formation. Applicants can request up t0 $2,000 in funding.
Recent mini grant recipients include the following:
- Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, Stamford: Funded scholarships for youth group members to attend Camp Veritas.
- Catholic Adventures, Stamford: Provided microphones to record the "Restless Young Catholic Adult" podcast.
- Office of Clergy, Bridgeport: Will fund a convocation for all active and retired Diocesan priests.
- Parish of Saint Cecilia, Stamford: Funded scholarships for youth group members to attend Camp Veritas.
- Saint Charles Borromeo Parish, Bridgeport: Helped renovate church grounds and enable youth group to build a fire pit for use to bring community together.
- Saint George Parish, Bridgeport: Provided faith formation materials for religious education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
- Saint James Parish, Stratford: Funded several sessions of prayer and reflection to "name, claim, and heal" the sin of racism within the community.
About Our Namesake
St. John Paul II was the head of the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005, making him the second-longest reigning Pope in modern history. His papacy was marked by collaboration with the youth, perhaps most evident in his pioneering of the Church's World Youth Day events, the most recent of which took place in Panama City in 2019.
He was beatified in 2011 on Divine Mercy Sunday, with the miracle of healing a nun of Parkinson's Disease being attributed to his intercession. His second miracle occurred in 2013, and he was beatified the following year, once again on Divine Mercy Sunday.
His feast day is celebrated October 22. However, his feast day does not occur on the anniversary of his death -- as is the case with many other saints -- but rather on the anniversary of his papal inauguration.