PEP Newsletter

Ideas For Your Parish

_______________________________________________________________________                                                                                                                    May, 2023

Young Catholics Who Are Active

St. Thomas Aquinas is a thriving community located on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.  1,500 of the 13,000 Catholics in the university not only attend Mass but are active in some other activity or ministry.  What draws them is not only the event but the opportunity to meet new people and interact with them – to foster relationships, in other words,  The activities and events are planned, managed and directed by student leaders numbering 90 at the present time, all coordinated through the parish staff. 

A Wide Variety of Options

              St. Tom’s, as it is known, offers many possibilities for involvement outside of the Masses.  One is called “Boiler Awakening.”  This is a prayerful and peaceful retreat experience that is led by student parishioners who contribute their gifts and talents to “empower participants in perpetually owning their faith and creating a life-long passion for involvement in the faith community.” (  The website goes on to state, “The weekend includes a variety of talks, activities, and reflections designed to allow each retreatant to be ‘awakened’ to the Holy Spirit within them.”

              Another is the Sunday Night Dinner.  This takes place after the Sunday 5:30 pm Mass in the basement of the Newman Hall at St. Thomas.  It provides an opportunity for not only students attending Purdue but other young adults and families in the area to meet new people and share a meal together.

               The parish offers a program called ESTEEM which stands for “Enlivening Students to Engage the Ecclesial Mission.”  It is sponsored by the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, and it helps student parishioners transition into a leadership role within their respective parishes following graduation.  Each year the parish staff selects and invites a cohort of seniors to participate in an intensive of lectures and discussions on matters of faith and leadership.  All the participants are assigned a person to discuss issues of faith and learn about Catholic leadership from this mentor. 

              The Adult Faith Formation Program, along with learning about one’s faith, offers helps for ongoing growth and spiritual development.  One help is learning about Centering Prayer and how to put it into practice in their lives.  This suggests a way of relating to God by preparing a person “to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, that is, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us that is closer than breathing, closer then thinking, closer than consciousness itself.  This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.”

              The other emphasis of adult formation at St. Thomas Aquinas is Spiritual Direction.  As the parish website explains, “Often one finds oneself in need of a companion as one traverses the roads of life.  Spiritual Direction provides that companion.  Through Spiritual Direction, you are invited to meet regularly with a trained and experienced Spiritual Director who will help you hear and see God’s movement and call in your life.” (

              Described here are but a few of the many ways that St. Thomas Aquinas Parish encourages and supports young adult ministers through their college formation and beyond graduation.  Its Vision Statement, found on the parish’s website, describes what it is attempting to achieve:

              “St. Thomas Aquinas is a vibrant and diverse community of student and resident parishioners.  We are welcoming to all, a beacon of peace and God’s love, and a model of Jesus Christ to the local community of Purdue University, the Greater Lafayette area, and the world.  We value spiritual and intellectual formation and act to be a source of church leadership.”  Based on the information found on the parish website, St. Tom’s appears to be achieving much of what it has set out to accomplish.