Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo


3/22/2007 (9 years ago) (

ST. JOSEPH, Minn., August 16, 2006 - The College of Saint Benedict has received a $500,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help prepare a new generation of women for leadership in church and society.


By (

3/22/2007 (9 years ago)

Published in College & University

The grant will enhance and expand the pioneering Companions on a Journey program, which brings students, faculty, staff and alumnae together to connect their values with their life choices.

Since 2002, CSB has received nearly $2 million from the Endowment for Companions on a Journey, which through retreats, discussion groups and opportunities for reflection, draws on the college's unique Benedictine monastic heritage emphasizing listening and community.

The program is timely and responds to a growing national interest in spiritual development among young people. According to a 2003 study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, undergraduates have a high interest in spirituality and spiritual development, but often feel that colleges and universities do little to help students explore those issues or to support their search for values and meaning in life.

"We know that young people across the country today rank opportunities for spiritual engagement high on their list of what they hope a college will provide," said MaryAnn Baenninger, president of CSB. "At the College of Saint Benedict, spiritual engagement and development are central to our mission."

"My Journey Group experience was simply the best part of my time at the College of Saint Benedict," said Nicole Goeden, a 2006 graduate who was a theater major from Dillon, Mont.

Goeden said that she looked forward to each gathering with a facilitator and four other students in her group, "and I nearly always (left) feeling uplifted and rejuvenated. It is difficult to express just how rewarding and therapeutic it can be to connect with other women in a spiritual way.

"My group has helped me through many difficult times on my journey at CSB, even when they might not have known it. They created a 'safe space' for me to share my fears, my struggles and my dreams. For this gift, I am eternally grateful. You have made my college experience richer, more memorable and more meaningful," Goeden said.

"Vocation is a calling that seeks meaning and fulfillment in life for people of all faiths. It isn't restricted to religious calling," Baenninger said. "Our Companions on a Journey program is a nationally leading program which brings together women of all ages in vibrant small groups within our larger community to discuss, reflect upon and plan their life commitments.

"This extraordinary program responds to our students' need for spiritual growth, and to their need to make decisions about their life's work in an environment where they can expect to change careers many times during their life," Baenninger added.

With this grant that runs from 2008-10, CSB will enhance its signature program, the Journey Groups, as well as its summer institute and academic courses on discernment and vocation. CSB will add programs in ecclesial ministry, expanding outreach beyond the campus community and adding a professorship in women's leadership in church and society. The number of participants is expected to double between 2006 and 2010.

"While many colleges and universities have been engaging in the theological exploration of vocation, as far as I know, we are the only school which uses the group spiritual companioning process," said Marian Diaz, program director of Companions on a Journey. "The importance of Companions on a Journey arises from its distinctive ability to provide our students with programming that supports the formation of communal bonds with peers and women of other generations.

"These small group communities then allow the women the freedom to explore their gifts, the presence of other people and God in their lives and the needs of our changing society so that they may better discern how they will work in service to humanity during and after their experience at CSB," Diaz added. "Our process seeks to engage the participants in reflection that considers their emotional, intellectual, physical, cultural and spiritual selves." CSB was one of only two women's colleges nationally to receive funding for vocational exploration. From 2000-02, the Endowment funded 88 colleges and universities for the Theological Exploration of Vocation program.

"We have been thrilled and delighted at the (national) results so far," said Craig Dykstra, Endowment senior vice president for religion. "These schools have integrated programs and projects that are advancing the initiative's aims: to encourage young people to explore Christian ministry as their possible life's work, to help all students draw on their faith traditions in making vocational choices, and to enhance the capacity of each school's faculty and staff to teach and mentor students effectively in these areas."

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation and follows its founders' wishes in supporting the causes of community development, education and religion.

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University are two nationally-leading liberal arts colleges whose unique partnership provides students with a highly engaged and integrated learning experience preparing them for leadership and service in a global society. The student experience is enlivened by Catholic and Benedictine tradition and an extraordinary sense of place and community.

Contact Information:
Michael Hemmesch

Sending Institution:
College of Saint Benedict

Education, College of Saint Benedict, Philanthropy, Lilly, women, leadership, church


More College & University

BREAKING: UCLA on lockdown after shooting on campus Watch

Image of UCLA is on lockdown.


The UCLA campus has been put on lockdown after reports of a shooter in the university's Boelter Hall were released via social media. Police reported a shooting on the UCLA campus, issuing a tweet to say that the school's Westwood campus was on lockdown following a ... continue reading

Christian students in U.S. not allowed to speak to other students without permits Watch

Image of Christian liberties denied at North Carolina State University (Wikipedia).


In a move reminiscent of the early 1900s, North Carolina State University segregated a student Christian group from the rest of the student population. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grace Christian Life is a registered student Christian group on NC State's ... continue reading

Benedict XVI Centre approved by Holy See, but what will they be doing there? Watch

Image of The center will focus on religion and social sciences (CDJ).


St. Mary's University in Twickenham, London has been formally approved to name one of their buildings after Benedict XVI. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to its website, St. Mary's University will name one of their buildings the Benedict XVI Centre for ... continue reading

Alarming University campaign threatens First Amendment rights Watch

Image of The University of Portland asks students to report discrimination, interactions of intolerance and incidents of discomfort (Stefan Redel/


The University of Portland recently launched a "Speak Up" campaign designed to put an end to discrimination, intolerance and "incidents of discomfort." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The University's Speak Up website specifies inclusion is a top priority - one ... continue reading

Comparing some students to 'Catholic jihadis,' Mount St. Mary University president comes under fire Watch

Image of Mount St. Mary University President Simon Newman said in a memo,

By Adelaide Mena and Matt Hadro, CNA News

Amid uproar over comparing struggling students to bunnies that should be drowned or shot, Mount St. Mary's University president is now under fire for criticizing expressions of the Catholic faith at the school. Emmitsburg, Md. (CNA) - Already facing turmoil, the ... continue reading

The fight for religious liberty: How one Catholic college deals with threats Watch

Image of

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

The future of religious freedom in the United States will one day be in the care of today's college students, so one Catholic college is working to equip them for that struggle. Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News) - Wyoming Catholic College is trying to form a "community ... continue reading

4 reasons Catholic education needs your help this year Watch

Image of Are America's Catholic schools being attacked? (Wordpress)


The Catholic education system is coming under attack by a plethora of policies designed to make the hiring process, acceptance of anti-Christian viewpoints, transgender issues and Catholic identity concerns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Cardinal Newman ... continue reading

Catholic identity or education: Are the top Catholic universities falsely rated by secular standards? Watch

Image of


A list of the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America was created, but were they rated fairly? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Newsmax revealed their top forty Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America, but what were their standards?The United ... continue reading

Becoming Divine Mercy: A Mission of Mercy Watch

Image of

By Jessie Tappel, Communications Director at Divine Mercy University

God, the source of all mercy, provides us with an experience so great that we have no choice but to reflect it to our own brother and sister. Mercy calls for an outward response, which is made clear in the examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You can ... continue reading

UST Breaks Ground on New Center for Science and Health Professions Watch

Image of

By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas, a member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, broke ground on a new Center for Science and Health Professions on Nov. 12, 2015. The new facility, containing more than 100,000 square-feet of modern lab space and classrooms, will meet ... continue reading

All College & University News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 9:2-3, 11-14
2 There was a tent which comprised two compartments: the first, in which ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
2 For Yahweh, the Most High, is glorious, the great king over all the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:20-21
20 He went home again, and once more such a crowd collected that they ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 21st, 2017 Image

St. Agnes
January 21: St. Agnes of Rome was born in 291 AD and raised ... Read More