By S.L. Hansen
(SNR) - For months now, Joy of the Gospel funds have been distributed to parishes for local needs. Planning on seminary expansion has begun in Seward. The priest retirement funds are already supporting diocesan clergy. And there are three other ways that campaign funds are presently being used across the Diocese of Lincoln.
The Francis Fund
The Francis Fund, designed in consultation with pastors and financial leaders, was created to help a number of parish schools that have had a history of financial deficits.
“The purpose is to help struggling schools achieve independent financial sustainability,” explained JD Flynn, special assistant to Bishop Conley.
The Francis Fund will allow each school to employ strategic planning, good stewardship, and student recruitment, to build a more solid financial support network.
“Catholic education is at the heart of our apostolic mission. We form students to be life-long disciples of Jesus Christ,” Flynn said. “It is important to help our schools achieve sustainable financial models, so that they can be witnesses of the Gospel in all of our communities— rich and poor alike.”
Formed.org is an online Catholic resource created by a partnership of organizations that have led the New Evangelization in the United States. These include the Augustine Institute, Ignatius Press, Lighthouse Catholic Media, Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire.
Formed.org provides access to Catholic books, talks and movies, catechetical programs, and Bible studies.
“This is something that Bishop Conley wanted to provide to everyone in the diocese because it’s really an awesome resource for growing in the faith, getting formed in the faith,” said Father Andrew Heaslip, diocesan director of religious education.
There are already 21 parishes in the diocese that subscribe to Formed.org, using the videos, podcasts and printable resources for RCIA, parish Bible studies, Godteens and other programs. Individual parishioners can also access the materials from any computer or mobile device for personal formation or evangelization.
“There are a lot of different ways to use it and a lot of different styles of materials for different audiences for different purposes,” Father Heaslip said. “For those who do take advantage of this program, they will definitely grow in their love for the faith and for Christ, and they will also grow in their awareness of the importance of sharing their faith.”
Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture
The Newman Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture is a collaborative project between St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward and the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center in Lincoln. The Newman Institute will offer accredited courses in the humanities: literature, history, philosophy, the arts, and poetry, for students studying at local universities.
The courses are designed to fit in the core curriculum requirements at the University of Nebraska. The Newman Institute offered the “Reborn in Wonder” lecture series (video available in the gallery) this fall, and will continue to offer lectures, exhibitions, and other cultural experiences rooted in Catholic history, tradition, and theology. The academic courses will be available to full-time students, and may expand to others as the program develops.