The Lumen Christi Institute has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the OSV Institute for a program that will introduce teens in Chicagoland to the Catholic vision of intellectual life, culture, and liturgy. The program will be run by Lumen Christi’s Newman Forum for High School Students.

“We at Lumen Christi are deeply grateful to the OSV Institute for once again partnering with us to broaden the reach and exposure to Catholic intellectual tradition,” said Thomas Levergood, executive director of the Lumen Christi Institute. “We are confident that this project will bear fruit for the Church as she witnesses significant cultural developments in the 21st century.”

Very few teens in the region have exposure to the Church’s 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. By waiting until college to address these questions, Catholic ministries have by default ceded teenage intellectual formation to a secular culture. Moreover, since 90 percent of Catholic teens will attend non-Catholic colleges and universities, most young Catholics are deprived of any contact with the intellectual and spiritual resources of the faith.

To address this need, the Lumen Christi Institute, in partnership with Mundelein Seminary and the Archdiocese of Chicago Vocation Office, launched the Newman Forum for High School Students. Newman Forum events cover a range of topics from the Catholic intellectual tradition and respond to particular obstacles to the faith, lead students more deeply into the faith tradition, and correct common historical or cultural misunderstandings.

As part of its regular programming for 2019-2020, the Newman Forum hosted more than forty students and their parents for a daylong seminar on St. John Henry Newman at the University of Chicago Oct. 19. A second event that investigated creation from the perspectives of physics and aesthetics drew more than 110 students, parents, and teachers to the University of Chicago Feb. 15.

Two events for smaller groups were organized. The first, “How NOT to get away with murder,” which was a close reading of Genesis 3 and 4, drew ten students to St. John Cantius Church Jan. 21. The date for the second event, “Answering your atheist philosophy professor: reading and responding to a New York Times editorial,” is yet to be determined.

The Newman Forum has also launched online programming. Its first event, held on April 2, was a reprise of “How NOT to get away with murder.”

Planning for the Newman Forum’s 2020 Summer Institute at Mundelein Seminary, July 28-Aug. 1, is underway and applications are open. The program will offer forty-five students an introduction to college-level Catholic theology and philosophy, and opportunities for service projects.

Questions about the Newman Forum can be directed to Lumen Christi Assistant Director Austin Walker.