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How to Foster Future Church Leaders

Posted on January 29, 2018 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

Pierre Toussaint Winter Workshops Provide a Glimpse

By Leah Dixon

Associate Director: Archdiocese of New York Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund & Program

I understand what it’s like when you leave home, go away to college, get introduced to a whole new world and still try to maintain your faith.  Students question things and may stop going to Mass.  Reminding them, without being overbearing, that the church is still there for them is what our Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund & Program is all about. Helping young people navigate these new challenges is what I enjoy most about my job as the Associate Director of the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund (PTSF), and what I appreciated about the workshop we ran for our scholars this month during their college winter break, “Balancing, Breaking down & Building Up: Survival Tips for Young Adults in Managing Themselves in Today’s Busy Society.”

My number 1 tip is to never be afraid to reach out and ask for help.  Our Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Program has a good networking support system in which we hope they will continue to take part. 

The Pierre Toussaint Scholars – 50 in total – have big shoes to fill. Venerable Pierre Toussaint was born a slave in Haiti in 1766 and died a freedman in 1853 in New York City. That he transformed himself from a former slave to a successful businessman is impressive.  But more impressive still, I think, is that he is credited by many with being the father of Catholic Charities in New York.  He was instrumental in raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage and began the city's first school for black children.

Our scholars come from all ethnic groups and economic backgrounds from throughout the Archdiocese.  What they hold in common is their:

  • Academic excellence
  • Involvement within their faith community
  • Service to others

They attend colleges and universities around the country including Fordham, Princeton, Howard and Cornell Universities.  They major in whatever inspires them including engineering, international relations, economics and pre-med. 

Scholars receive a renewable award up to $2,000 annually.  But even more valuable, it seems to me, is the ongoing support we offer to help them maintain their faith, keeping them connected with the church and let them know the church supports them.  That is what our “Survival Tips” winter workshop was all about. 

The Winter Workshop gave them an opportunity to come together to network and fellowship, while also providing an opportunity to learn about an issue/topic that will prove beneficial to them as young Catholic adults.  We started the morning with Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church at the Catholic Center and then held our workshop in the Cardinal’s Board Room. Our keynote speakers for the day conducted interactive and engaging presentations that were both informative and fun.

Our Pierre Toussaint workshops and programs have demonstrated success.  Some of our graduating scholars have returned back to their church and now sit on parish finance committees, lead music and youth ministries, serve as Lectors, Eucharistic Ministers and teach CCD classes.  They are the next generation of leaders in our church.  And that is what our Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Fund is all about, molding our future church leaders.

Would you or someone you know like to apply for the Pierre Toussaint Scholarship

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