Living and Leading with Love | Youth Theology Institute

Open to All High School Students in Diocese

L3 LogoBrescia University, the only Catholic university in the Diocese of Owensboro, is pleased to bring a youth theology institute for high school students to the diocese. This institute, “Living and Leading with Love” (L3), is made possible through a grant from the Lilly Endowment.

The Lilly Endowment gave $44.5 million in grants to help 82 private four-year colleges and universities around the nation develop these institutes. Brescia University was one of three in Kentucky, and the only university in the Diocese of Owensboro to receive this grant.

Brescia president, Fr. Larry Hostetter, says it was easy to decide to apply for this grant. “At Brescia we are always looking for ways to assist the Diocese of Owensboro, especially in its catechetical and educational efforts.”

So when the grant opportunity presented itself, Brescia put together an advisory committee of Brescia theologians and diocesan youth workers, along with Jayme Walters, university grant writer, and applied to be a recipient.

“The Lilly Endowment is very concerned that future leaders are guided by religious values,” Hostetter stated.

He went on to say that even though there are many youth leadership programs available, this L3 program is set apart from secular trainings due to its hybrid method.  High school students in the year-long program will interact mainly with each other online. Three times a year they will meet in person through an opening overnight retreat, overnight renewal weekend, and a culminating ten-day camp at Brescia.

Retreat #1: August 26-27, 2016
Retreat #2: December 19-20, 2016
Ten Day On-campus Experience:
June 16-25, 2017

The director of the youth theology institute, Emily DeMoor, Ph.D., brings 20 years of experience working in the Religion and Ecology area at Loyola University New Orleans, specifically at the Loyola Institute for Ministry. She also has experience teaching high school religion, serving in campus ministry and as Liturgical and Music Director in parishes.

stained glass

DeMoor says youth are the leaders of the future and they need to be prepared for life’s challenges. “A childhood faith is inadequate for meeting the challenges of the adult world.  This program, grounded in the theology of “caritas” or love, will ask our youth to go deeper into their faith, to understand themselves as people of God, and feel inspired and empowered to act in the world in life-giving ways that bring about the Kingdom of God here and now.”

A major component to the program involves community service.

“We want to encourage the participants to become involved in their communities, especially their parishes,” said Hostetter.

Brescia hopes to recruit mentors in each student’s parish to help guide the students in their service projects. Since this program is for high school students across the entire diocese, each participant will engage in a service project in their own community, with a minimum of ten hours of service.

Another aspect making this youth theology institute unique is the focus on love or caritas.

“The program takes very seriously the call of Jesus to love one another as he has loved us,” said Hostetter.  “This call to love will be contextualized in the L3 program with its focus on God’s creation and the environment.”

DeMoor says youth are searching for “authentic love” and “it is important that youth develop a spiritual practice that includes theological reflection and action through service, and in doing so grow in understanding of their Christian vocation to love.”

sacred heart jesus

DeMoor went on to say, “For, as Jesus teaches, it is love that will transform the world.”

Brescia University students will also assist with this youth institute as some are going through a similar caritas program on campus. As part of their program, they too are encouraged to participate in service projects.

“By being available and helping the high school participants, they are putting that love into action,” Hostetter said.

This institute is completely inclusive of those living in the Diocese of Owensboro area due to the online component.  Any high school sophomore or junior in the diocese is qualified to participate.

“We are especially interested in helping those parishes who don’t have access to a Catholic school,” Hostetter said. “We hope they will take advantage of it.”

DeMoor hopes students will complete the institute as changed people. “I hope that students gain a profound sense of God’s loving presence, a deeper sense of identity as people of faith, hope and love, an understanding of their vocation to love.”

She went on to say her goal is that students will gain “a greater capacity for critical thinking and theological reflection, an understanding of the teachings of Jesus and of the Catholic Church, a passion for peace and justice, and a sense of empowerment as servant leaders who can bring the Gospel to bear upon the world.”

High school students entering their sophomore or junior year this fall are eligible to apply for the program. Those students interested in theology and religion and interested in developing their leadership skills should visit for more details. The cost of the program is a one-time fee of $150. This covers the entire program including the overnights on campus. Those wishing to receive college credit for this program can pay an additional $45 for the course.
Applications received by July 7 will be given priority.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development.