In 2016 the Mark D. Pacione Foundation was able to provide partial grants to 12 young people who attended the Pinkard Youth Theological Program at St. Mary’s Seminary and University. When asked how the Pinkard Scholars program enriched their understanding of their faith, here is what a few participants shared:
Through the Pinkard Scholars Program, I was able to deepen the knowledge of my faith and develop a better understanding of my beliefs. Before attending this semester long course, I viewed my faith and beliefs as my religion. As the class went on, I was able to distinguish between faith and religion. Faith is our personalized relationship with God, while religion is the practices in which this relationship is promoted . By defining these two terms I was able to come to the conclusion with only one of the two, a complete relationship would not be possible. This balance of religion and faith is something which is a struggle the human race is faced with. This tension between faith and religion is what allows us to practice our free will. Free will is the ability to form our own decision as to how we go about our daily life, but more importantly our decision to choose God. This decision is not just one decision, but a series of decisions which lead us down a path based on the outcomes of our decisions.
The class helped me to put myself in another person’s story and understand the dangers of certainty in this world, both of which have already proven useful in my life. For example, I have been able to provide well-thought answers to confirmandi at Saint Pius X to questions concerning the “mess that is this world” and to class discussions in school.
My time in the Pinkard Scholars program has had a significant beneficial change on my mentality and my life. As I went into the program, I had little knowledge of deep theology. If I had been asked about God, evil, and suffering in the summer of 2016, I would give a simple, linear answer. “God is the big good guy in the sky, evil is the devil, and suffering is bad for everyone.” Now, I would be able to describe an intricate network of how suffering, while brought on by evil, is a tool of God for the teaching of humanity and can become a path back to God. I have also gained a new sense of sympathy for those employed or forced into the cruel practices of prostitution or trafficked labor. I began the course believing that such people were only doing what they could in a system that denied them another option, but I came to realize that they were victims of multiple systems, especially the system of deplorable people who prey on the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of others.
I have also gained a new sense of sympathy for those employed or forced into the cruel practices of prostitution or trafficked labor. I began the course believing that such people were only doing what they could in a system that denied them another option, but I came to realize that they were victims of multiple systems, especially the system of deplorable people who prey on the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of others.
Being able to participate in the Pinkard Scholars Program was an amazing experience. I learned much more than I ever anticipated. Not only was I able to expand my knowledge in theology, but I also learned to expand my process of thought. Both of these new skills will serve me well in my years to come. This gift of a grant has enabled me to broaden my horizons and to think that when I step out into the world, I am not a single person in a stream of people, my life choices has an effect on everyone around me. Thank you so much for this wonderful gift.
The Pinkard Program was one of the best things that has ever happened to me! I have always pondered the idea of questioning my religion and every time I did I always stopped myself. This program has helped me to develop my own way of thinking and my own way of discovering God’s path for me. It has helped me to realize that it is okay to question and to doubt; it was what lets me have a religion in the first place. I thank you for giving me this chance. Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to realize how God is all around me and how important I am to his plan.
I believe that the Pinkard Scholars Program helps increase exposure toward the institution that is St. Mary’s Seminary and University. I believe that it has helped me to learn not only more about God, but a more vernacular understanding of the world as it is today, and the changing “view” of God and how he is. It leads me to become more open to certain things that I would not have thought about otherwise, and I believe that this program is an opening to greater possibilities