Catholic leaders must create a seat at the leadership table and a voice in decision-making for young adults in the Church today.
The ESTEEM program was founded as a joint partnership between Leadership Roundtable and Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University to develop the next generation of Catholic leaders to serve in these roles. The ESTEEM program trains, encourages, and supports young adults at colleges and universities across the United States in their baptismal call to use their gifts and talents in service to the Church.
The ESTEEM program is designed to assist young adult participants to:
- reflect on themselves, their talents, and their call to leadership
- participate in a community of similarly talented, dedicated young adults
- understand their baptismal responsibilities and vocations
- discover ways to exercise leadership in the Church
Partner sites (in the form of college and university campus ministries) are responsible for offering small seminars crafted using materials supplied by ESTEEM. Seminar topics include but are not limited to:
- Leadership models and skills
- Ecclesiology and Church Governance
- Hierarchy of Truth and Doctrinal Development
- Catholic Social Teaching
- Faith in Action
- Connecting to Catholic Communities
Opening and closing retreats, as well as ongoing service opportunities, are also critical touchstones of the ESTEEM process.
A core tenet of the ESTEEM program is the value of mentorship in forming leaders. Each site pairs student participants with a mentor, perhaps who shares a field of expertise that intersects with the student’s area of study, and who is living a life of faith as a post-college adult. Mentors and mentees are encouraged to be in regular communication, sharing the experience of the ESTEEM process and growing in faith together. This sense of intergenerational ministry utilizes mentoring relationships as fertile ground for leadership development that stems from a shared faith.
Each spring, participants at ESTEEM sites cross the country gather for a capstone conference that offers keynotes, small and large group sessions, and opportunities to explore case studies and work in concert with other participants to identify possible action steps and solutions. This experience of community and collegiality is often identified as one of the most memorable experiences of the ESTEEM program.
Of note is that ESTEEM is not intended to serve as religious education or catechesis, nor is it intended to offer training in youth or young adult ministry, per se. Rather, it is aimed at young adult Catholics already knowledgeable and committed to Catholicism who command notice for their intellectual acumen, their innate leadership qualities, their passion for excellence, and desire to serve the Church. ESTEEM aims to identify those young adults, cultivate their desire for service to the Church, provide a curriculum that encourages their leadership – especially in the temporal affairs of the Church – and offer opportunities for such service, gradually developing a network of talented, actively engaged young adult leaders serving the Church.
Nicole M. Perone
Mary Pickens Corsones