ESTEEM: Engaging STudents to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission

Want to sit in the back row of your new parish? Want to become a lapsed Catholic because your new parish doesn’t nourish you spiritually? If yes, then stop reading – ESTEEM is NOT for you!


If you want to help develop and participate in a dynamic and spiritually nourishing parish, ESTEEM is the next step for you.


ESTEEM is a collaborative effort between the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, the St. Thomas More Catholic Center & Chapel at Yale University and other universities across the United States to prepare graduating students for a vibrant life in the Catholic Church following graduation.



ESTEEM provides you with skills and background to help you participate actively in parish life and leadership, without having to wait until you are too old to represent the young adult perspective.  This is not intended to be simply a faith-sharing group, although that is an important part of meaningful participation, but to provide a forum to address topics that often don’t get discussed in typical religious education and formation programs. In addition, we will identify a mentor for you who can serve as a sounding board and guide during the course of the year. (Read more about the mentor experience here.)


Participating students end the year feeling inspired and excited about becoming involved in the church, ready to bring a dose of youthful energy and passion to the parish life. Feedback from student  participants has been overwhelmingly positive.


If you have questions or are interested in participating, email Dn. Tom at



ESTEEM targets graduating seniors or graduate students close to completing their degrees because they are ones stepping beyond the UCC. We are especially interested in involving those who have a love of Jesus and the Catholic Church but may have not yet been actively involved at the UCC. In other words, you don’t have to be a church-nerd to participate.



Each session involves an interactive presentation on topics such as:


  • Leadership – What kind of leadership styles are there and what leadership skills do you possess?
  • Catholic Social Doctrine – why isn’t “charity” enough?  Why is social justice so important to the mission of the Church?
  • Faith in action – How do we walk the walk when we put into practice the Gospel message about loving our neighbors?
  • Ecclesiology (structure of the church and church governance) – How is the Catholic Church organized and what rights and responsibilities do we have as Catholics? How is your local parish organized?
  • Christian spirituality – What does it means to be “spiritual”? What are the different types of spirituality and which ones might be most effective for you to improve your relationship with God?
  • Liturgy – Is mass the only way to worship God? (Obviously, not.) What types of liturgies are there and which can be led by the laity?
  • Catholic leaders in society (panel of outside speakers) – How do people in the “real world” practice their faith while enhancing their careers and personal lives?
  • Connecting to the local church – How can you participate in your parish? What opportunities are available to young adults?



What kind of commitment are we talking about?


Retreat – We have a Friday evening – Saturday retreat at the beginning of Fall Quarter where we review the ESTEEM program, get a running start on the year, meet the mentors and enjoy good food and fellowship.


Meetings – During the Academic Year, we meet every other Sunday evening (more or less) for 90 minutes prior to the 7:00 PM mass about four times per quarter, finishing by the end of eighth week before things get too hectic.


Capstone Conference – The weekend after Easter, active participants travel to Yale University to meet with participating universities, listen to inspiring speakers and exchange ideas from the young adult perspective. The Capstone Conference is a great opportunity to network with similarly-minded Catholic students at the beautiful St. Thomas More Center located next to Yale’s equally beautiful campus. For those who are able, we leave a day before the conference and spend it in New York City seeing the sites, eating classic New York cuisine and taking in a Broadway show or other NYC-only activity.



Currently, there is no financial commitment to participate in the ESTEEM program. Those spending the day in New York will pay a $100 fee to cover housing plus the cost of incidentals (entertainment, meals, etc.).


Email Dn. Tom at


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