The mission of the organization is twofold:
- To advance the ministry of the lay intellectual in the Church by providing training, resources, the development of best practices, and identifying optimal areas of teaching, intellectual inquiry and engagement.
- To enhance parish and community life by facilitating and supporting local learning programs.
We embrace the following as core values that guide and motivate our work:
- We approach learning as a community and communal experience
- We seek to equip the lay intellectual with the tools needed to study and teach as an act of worship
- We seek to create intellectually and spiritually fertile spaces in which to learn, collaborative, nurturing, welcoming to all levels of education, and free of judgmental attitudes, but still offering intellectual and spiritual challenge.
- We reject the idea of dialogue and discussion as a competition or metaphorical combat.
- We avow that good learning, like good spirituality, serves the secular realm, i.e., any subject or activity that touches upon the health, happiness, and dignity of human life.
- We value both science and humanities as tools of learning. We promote the development of research, investigation, and analysis that draws upon the strengths of both.
- We believe that the result of learning should be a more informed, alert, compassionate, intellectually rich, and vibrant parish and community.
Activity: What We Do
The Institute, its mission, and values grows out of several observed phenomena:
- Disengagement of church members from the Church as a means to dealing with the “big questions.”
- Growing and deepening anti-intellectualism throughout society
- Distrust and disenchantment with other institutions of learning such as academia, news media, expertise generally, and science
- Increasing rift between science and religion, and science and the humanities
There is a growing sense that the church, speaking generically, has lost the ability to engage with people who are seeking, thinking, trying to grapple with metaphysical and spiritual issues that go beyond standard church fare. There is also a perception that the church has lost the ability to speak to the challenges we face, such as economic upheaval, environmental degradation, growing fundamentalism, political instability, and so on. The very positive reception worldwide to Pope Francis I and his encyclical Laudato Si on global warming strongly suggests that there is a place and a need for religious voices that can meaningfully address these and related issues.