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Guidance Systems

Grant funds undergraduate program on work and faith

With a recent $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Boston College is developing programs and resources designed to encourage students to integrate faith and career -- to consider their lives' vocations in the broad sense of the word. Under the direction of Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Joseph Appleyard, SJ, the project, called Intersections, will have four focal points: a voluntary junior-year reorientation program; undergraduate internships in church ministry; seminars for faculty and staff; and an interactive Web site.

According to the terms of the project, vocation does not necessarily mean a calling to the priesthood or to a religious order. "Every person has a vocation," says Fr. Appleyard. "The challenge is to find answers to the questions, What am I going to do with my life, and what values do I want my life and career to represent -- whether that career is in business, scientific research, the arts, teaching, church ministry, or any other field."

The planning stage has involved a wide cross-section of the University community. One participant, Carroll School of Management Associate Dean for Undergraduates Richard Keeley, says, "It became clear that we all -- faculty, staff, and students -- are involved in an ongoing discovery of vocation. For relatively few will the discovery of vocations be straightforward."

The third-year reorientation program begins in the summer before junior year, a pivotal time in students' development. Students will be asked to think about talents and gifts they have discovered in themselves or that others have recognized in them during their first two years at BC, and how the University might help them in developing these talents toward a possible career path.

The internships in church ministry -- which will be offered in the summer and the academic year -- will fill a gap for BC undergraduates, says Fr. Appleyard, who notes that there are plenty of internships or field placements in business, communication, nursing, and education, but that the area of ministry tends to be overlooked. Ministry internships will include opportunities to work in parishes, dioceses, national church organizations, religious philanthropic foundations, and religious education organizations.

"Our goal," says Fr. Appleyard, "is to produce graduates of Boston College who have a clear sense of how their talents match the world's needs."

Kathleen Sullivan

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