SBU Vocation Journey Project Receives Grant

HNP Communications Features

ALLEGANY, N.Y. – The Journey Project of St. Bonaventure University was awarded a $500,000 sustainability grant May 23 by Lilly Endowment Inc.

St. Bonaventure is one of 30 colleges and universities awarded a grant through the Sustaining the Theological Exploration of Vocation 2006 grants program. The grant is intended to cover up to 50 percent of the Journey Project’s costs for three years.

Michael Williams, program director of the Journey Project, said the award will move the program from dependency on Lilly Endowment funding to university funding.

“It guarantees three more years of programming. It gives us more time to really become a part of the fabric of the university,” Williams said. “It helps us to better integrate with Clare College, the Franciscan mission, ministry programs and the university’s overall offerings.”

The grant is part of a 1999 Lilly Endowment initiative called Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation, which provided the original funding for the Journey Project in 2002. The initiative supports church-related, liberal arts colleges and universities in order to identify and nurture a new generation of highly talented and religiously committed leaders for church and society. It includes 88 colleges and universities in 29 states.

“What these schools have accomplished – in bringing a sense of vocation to young people’s career choices – has been phenomenal,” said Craig Dykstra, senior vice president for religion at the Endowment. “We have heard from students, faculty, staff, alumni and even parents about the effectiveness of these college programs in encouraging young people to engage in vocational reflection.”

The Journey Project, implemented by St. Bonaventure in 2003, is committed to the goals of the Endowment. It seeks to help students examine the relationship between their faith and vocational choices, provide opportunities for young people to explore Christian ministry as their life’s work and enhance the capacity of the university’s faculty and staff to teach and mentor students effectively in exploring their vocation.

“There is a lot of creativity in a university setting. The Journey Project is a catalyst for creativity. Its funding provides the seed money needed to tap into extra resources and help fund creative ideas,” Williams said.

The Journey Project has impacted countless students, faculty and staff of St. Bonaventure University. In 2006, more than 100 students partnered with local parishes and social service agencies to perform nearly 10,000 hours of service and over 350 students have or will engage in service-learning experiences, including Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. In addition, more than 50 faculty and 30 staff members are directly involved with the project.