St. Thomas Aquinas Church receives $99,000 grant

Kyndal Reimer

St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center applied for and has received a grant for $99,000 from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

With this grant, the church intends to hire a team of missionaries to spread its religion on Iowa State’s campus.

Shari Reilly, director of campus ministries at St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center, described the application process as time-consuming and complicated. Applicants first had to write an initial letter to the Lilly Endowment Inc.; after approval they were offered an application. The application consisted of about 11 pages of questions, describing a budget and developing a narrative.

“Without this grant, the new program wouldn’t have been possible for another two years,” Reilly said. The program will take off this coming fall semester.

With 7,800 Catholic students at Iowa State, St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center resonates with nearly one-fifth of the student population. The church sees this as an opportunity to evangelize and guide students who are uncertain of their faith or those who are certain and in need of direction or advice.

The missionaries will meet with students one on one, helping coordinate small groups, and will help organize large group activities. Their goal is to be a deliberate and focused presence.

“I look forward to seeing what the church does with the grant,” said Angela Bentler, freshman in child, adult and family services and attendee of St. Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center. “That’s a huge honor, and they could really do a lot of good work with that sort of funding.”

The church plans to hire two missionaries in the summer of 2016. These missionaries will receive training from the Saint Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Student Center staff and The Evangelical Catholic.

“We’re learning as we go, but we are hopeful that the new program will bring a lot of excitement and energy out of Catholic students on campus,” Reilly said. “Also, we hope to provide additional outreach to students who may or may not be Catholic but are curious about the religion.”