Marian University receives $1,230,399 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish Fraternitas: the Brotherhood of Fathers initiative

by News Release | Aug 14, 2023

Unique program equips and encourages fathers to share their faith with their children; provides supportive community for Christian fathers

Marian University has received a $1,230,399 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for Fraternitas: the Brotherhood of Fathers. The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative, which aims to help parents and caregivers share their faith and values with their children. FRATERNITAS fills the gap in Catholic resources created explicitly to support fathers, focuses on empowering Christian parenting habits for the household, which are easily integrated into daily rhythms, and creates a supportive community, a brotherhood, among men who want to be the best Christian fathers they can be.

Fraternitas will support fathers through:

  1. A Fraternitas app, which will provide an interactive platform for fathers to build Christ- centered habits, connect with other fathers, continue learning about their faith through compelling resources, and develop age-appropriate ways to engage the common questions children ask;
  2. Fraternitas Camps for fathers and children to create Christ-centered memories that last a lifetime, and develop a brotherhood of fathers among other men;
  3. Fraternitas “houses” organized in parishes, Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) sports leagues, and Catholic schools that engage with fathers in areas in which they are already active to build a supportive community and empower them to build faith-focused habits through plug-and-play resources. Marian will create four plug-and-play sessions that foster brotherhood among fathers and help cultivate household habits and provide a programmatic kit that can be modified to a format that best suits the parish’s needs.

Reflecting on receiving this generous award, Adam P. Setmeyer, vice president of mission and ministry shared, “The research is clear; children need a faith-filled father in their lives if they are going to grow in our Catholic Christian faith. As a father of three, I know what a blessing it is to share my faith, but I also know how hard it can be. That is why I am so proud of Marian University for creating Fraternitas to support dads on this journey, meet them where they are, and provide them the resources they need to raise children who love Jesus, are committed to the church, and want to use their gifts to serve the world.”

Marian University is one of 77 organizations that are receiving grants through this competitive round of the Christian Parenting initiative. Reflecting the diversity of Christianity in the United States, the organizations are affiliated with mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Pentecostal faith communities. Many organizations are rooted in Black church, Hispanic, and Asian Christian traditions. Marian University is one of four Catholic institutions of higher education to receive grants through this initiative. The others are Loyola Marymount University, Marquette University, and the University of Notre Dame.  

“We’ve heard from many parents who are seeking to nurture the spiritual lives of their children, especially in their daily activities, and looking to churches and other faith-based organizations for support,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “These thoughtful, creative and collaborative organizations embrace the important role that families have in shaping the religious development of children and are launching programs to assist parents and caregivers with this task.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative in 2022 because of its interest in supporting efforts to help individuals and families from diverse Christian communities draw more fully on the wisdom of Christian practices to live out their faith fully and well, passing on a vibrant faith to a new generation.

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