Saint John Henry Newman, in his Oxford University Sermons, says that Faith and Wisdom are “the elementary and the perfecting gift of the Holy Spirit, are intellectual habits, and involve the exercise of Reason.” The intellectual life of a Christian is a journey from faith into wisdom, where faith is not left behind but perfected. The mission of the Newman Forum is to induct teenage Catholics into this journey!
High school-age Catholics in the Archdiocese have very little exposure to the Church’s grand intellectual tradition. But the high school years are exactly when students begin to ask questions about the rationality of the faith, the relationship between science and religion, and the truth of the doctrines they have been taught. By waiting until college to address these questions, Catholic ministries have ceded teenage intellectual formation to a secular culture. Moreover, since 90% of Catholic teenagers will attend non-Catholic colleges and universities, intervention must begin earlier, before students leave for college. A program aimed at high school students will inoculate them against the secular arguments they will hear in college, prepare them to defend the faith in a rigorous way, and introduce them to a venerable tradition of integrated intellectual and spiritual life.
The Lumen Christi Institute, in partnership with Mundelein Seminary and the Archdiocese of Chicago Vocation Office, has launched the Newman Forum to build a community of intellectually-active Catholic students who participate in events together throughout their high school careers. Through…
...the Newman Forum will cultivate young Catholic leaders and encourage vocations!
Follow us on Instagram @thenewmanforum
Austin Walker, Director of the Newman Forum
Madison Chastain, Program Coordinator of the Newman Forum
"The Newman Forum brings an exceptional and unique opportunity to high school students who want to grow in their appreciation of the Catholic faith and our rich intellectual tradition. During my participation in the Forum’s conference in 2019, I was reminded of my own UChicago undergraduate training that always underscored the value of integrating all branches of knowledge. Now, as Rector of Mundelein Seminary, I am excited that we are able to collaborate with the Newman Forum to lend the support of the Archdiocese of Chicago to the formation of the next generation of Catholic thinkers and leaders. The students participating in these programs will deepen their own spirituality, will help evangelize their peers, and will certainly enrich both the present and the future of the Church.”
-Very Rev. John Kartje, Rector, Mundelein Seminary
“In co-sponsoring the Newman Forum, I am proud to continue the longstanding collaboration between Lumen Christi and the Archdiocese of Chicago, as we now bring the riches of the Catholic intellectual life to our high school students. This is a unique opportunity for them to interact with and be formed by excellent university scholars and their own peers, but also to pray and be open to the light that Jesus wants to shine upon them. It is a blessing for Chicago.”
-Fr. Tim Monahan, Vocation Director, Archdiocese of Chicago
The Newman Forum will run a weeklong Summer Institute for high school students at Mundelein Seminary, July 28-Aug. 1. Mornings will be spent learning philosophy and theology from college professors, and afternoons will be spent going on fun excursions throughout Chicagoland. (And the rumors are true...we do go to Six Flags!)
Applications for the 2020 Summer Institute are due May 31, though priority will be given to students who submit their applications by May 1. The group will be capped at 45. The list of participants will be announced the first week of June. The program cost is $300.
The Newman Forum Writers Prize is an award presented annually to the winners of our yearly writing competitions, which run in tandem to our conferences and programs. Winners will receive a $100 gift card and be honored at a banquet at the end of the year!
Please submit using an email you will have access to for the duration of the calendar year (so if you are graduating, please do not use your school email). We will use the provided email to contact you if you are a winner.
Spring Competition Topics:
Using this homily from Pope Benedict XVI, (and/or your experience at our February Conference “Creation: Artistic and Divine,” if you attended)…
You can find a PDF of the sermon booklet HERE.
Spring Essay competition entries are due April 4th.
The Newman Forum strives to create a community of like-minded students who value their Catholic formation and desire greater involvement with the intellectual tradition of their faith. Through our Fellows program, The Newman Forum offers students the chance to take on leadership roles in their schools and parishes, recruiting friends for Newman Forum events, helping us develop our programming, and representing the Lumen Christi Institute.
Additionally, Newman Forum Fellows will receive advance notice regarding all Newman Forum Writers Prize essay competitions, as well as the chance to put on their college applications that they belong to a prestigious academic fellowship! But it won't just be hard work and no play: Newman Forum Fellows will also be invited to a number of cultural experiences and weekend events around the greater Chicago area!
It is here that we really want to draw your attention: It is rare for high school students to be able to ENTER college having already participated in a fellowship! Normally, this sort of opportunity only becomes available AFTER college! The Lumen Christi Institute for Catholic Thought also carries with it name recognition: Students, particularly those applying to Catholic universities, will find that belonging to a Lumen Christi Fellowship creates connections with faculty and staff across the country they might never have known otherwise.
If you are a student interested in becoming a Fellow, or a parent/pastor/teacher/youth minister interested in nominating a teen to be a Fellow, please email us at with the subject line “Fellow Nomination.”
The Newman Forum is built around the idea of introducing teens to the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition. While we mainly do that by hosting large events and inviting students to come to the University campus, every year we additionally formulate a number of smaller curriculums and events that we can come to your school or parish and run with a small group! These small events often center around exploring a text or theme together and having a round-table discussion about what we discover.
If you are a teacher, youth minister, pastor, or student who wants to host a small event or just learn more, please reach out to us by email or give us a call at (773)-955-5887 and ask for Austin or Madison!