"Embracing Traditions. Engaging New Ideas."

Second $1,000,000 grant awarded to CLI by the Lilly Endowment


Double the Blessings; Double the Impact

Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) has received a second $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its Thriving Congregations initiative. The grant is helping CLI cultivate innovation, extend our ability to serve, and encourage new perspectives in our ministry. The impact, trust, and vision of Lilly Endowment is inspiring to CLI and encouraging to those we are privileged to serve.

The motto of Lilly Endowment is: “Embracing Traditions. Engaging New Ideas.” These words not only inspire us, but they also embody who we are and how we strive to support Church leaders.

Empowering Thriving Ministry. Igniting Thriving Congregations.

The first $1 million grant made in 2018 has helped CLI launch Called For More – our priest placement, support, and transitioning effort – from idea to reality. The grant was made through Lilly Endowment’s national Thriving in Ministry initiative. The grant provided initial funding for CLI to pioneer this never-before-utilized design and begin to build its capacity to reach dioceses nationwide. Today Called For More has served more than 1,000 priests.

In 2020, Lilly Endowment again kickstarted crucial national CLI efforts, awarding our ministry a second $1 million grant to expand the reach and impact of our Next Generation Parish endeavor. With this support, CLI is able to reach more dioceses, nurture more vibrant faith communities, catapult parishes into the future, and share the learnings and best practices we have gleaned throughout the journey.

A Courageous Catalyst for Christ, Communities, & Country

Dan Cellucci, CEO of Catholic Leadership Institute, celebrates these two landmark grants: “The Lilly Endowment has been a catalyst for our work over the past three years. The grants are inspiring us to think differently, to dream with intention, and to transform our aspirations into efforts that truly improve the lives of pastors and congregations. CLI embraces those challenges and welcomes them as opportunities.”

Lilly Endowment has invested in our mission. We are determined and dedicated to steward this generosity with the highest standards of excellence, programs rooted in faith, and a mission that is infused with love for our Church.

Leading Like Jesus

Jesus, the ultimate leader, gave the world the most generous gift of all: His life. He teaches us through his life that innovation and impact require passion, vision, thinking differently, and sharing stories.

These two grants have been the cornerstone for implementing vision from both CLI and more importantly, those we serve. Lilly Endowment's support challenges us to think differently, reimagine models of parish life, and advance novel ways of cultivating leadership. We pray and believe that our Church will have a new story to tell. Already, CLI has been blessed with countless stories of leaders and parishes that have brought people closer to Jesus Christ.

CLI is humbled, grateful, and ignited with a drive to do even more for our deserving Church leaders and parishes thanks to the generosity of Lilly Endowment.

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The Lilly Endowment: Philanthropic Pioneer, Partner in Promoting Change

Catholic Leadership Institute is grateful for the support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

CLI Founder, Tim Flanagan, shares, “When I founded Catholic Leadership Institute, I had a true passion for supporting Church leadership of all levels. That love evolved into another dream of full, thriving parishes – parishes that look like Christmas Sunday every Sunday. We are able to realize this vision because of grants made through Lilly Endowment’s initiatives, Thriving in Ministry and Thriving Congregations. I am beyond appreciative that Lilly Endowment has gifted us not just resources to bring those ideas to fruition… they have gifted us their trust and their encouragement.”

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family - J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr. - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state, Indiana. Its grantmaking in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.

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2020 $1m Grant:
Lilly Endowment Empowers Thriving Congregations Amidst a Challenging World

In 2020, CLI received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment to help expand, enhance, and establish in more dioceses our innovative program, Next Generation Parish.

The program is funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the national initiative is to strengthen Christian congregations so they can help people deepen their relationships with God, build strong relationships with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of local communities and the world. Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative in 2019 as part of its commitment to support efforts that enhance the vitality of Christian congregations.

Lilly Endowment made $93 million in grants through the initiative. The grants are supporting organizations as they work directly with congregations and help them gain clarity about their values and missions, explore and understand better the communities in which they serve, and draw upon their theological traditions as they adapt ministries to meet changing needs.

Next Generation Parish Embraces Tradition

The challenging trends of the Church are calling for change in current models of parish life. Mass attendance is below 30% nationwide; Catholic marriages have declined; 1 in 5 children baptized do not receive First Communion; 2 in 5 children baptized are not confirmed; 85% of children confirmed stop practicing their faith by age 21.

Right now, we are on track to lose 8.3 million Catholics and $5 billion dollars of charitable giving in the next 15 years if nothing changes.

Next Generation Parish is founded on the belief that we can create change. With a deep love for all the traditions of our faith, CLI was called to reimagine parish life while still honoring and adoring the core values and beliefs of the Catholic faith.

Next Generation Parish Engages New Ideas

In 2017, Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) launched Next Generation Parish to accompany thriving faith communities and their leaders. This endeavor is a comprehensive, four-year approach to propel parishes into the future as vibrant faith communities with engaged parishioners who are actively becoming intentional disciples of Christ.

Within this journey into the next generation, CLI will help parishes focus on, measure, and enrich four key objectives:

  1. Spiritual maturity and a plan for discipleship
  2. Shared leadership and organizational health
  3. Vibrant Sunday experience
  4. Embrace of a missionary impulse

Through our early work in courageous dioceses, we have seen outstanding and uplifting impact. Pews have begun to fill, collections have grown, pastoral and parish leadership has been refined, and more people have come to know Jesus Christ.

Lilly’s Two Crucial Types of Impact

The Lilly Endowment grant of $1m is providing game-changing transformation in two areas:

  • Broader Impact: Right now, there is a critical need to provide support to more parishes. In the wake of a challenging world, parishes need a vision, an engaged community, and a congregation united in mission and in Christ. The number of parishes and dioceses proactively reaching out to CLI for support at this time is unprecedented. Lilly Endowment funding is enabling CLI to help additional eager and deserving parishes participate in this four-year program.
  • Deeper Impact: The grant is helping CLI enhance, catalyze, and strengthen the program itself through reflection, research, and sharing learnings in a profound way. Amidst this pandemic, we have witnessed parishes in this program adapt and innovate to sustain and exist. We must share these best practices and empower them to create more of them.
Hope, Holiness, Hospitality, & Health

This groundbreaking endeavor has the ability to renew parish life, foster opportunities for families and young people, build a place for every parishioner to connect, help parishes clarify their mission and values, lay the foundation for the future, root parishes in strong financial and organizational footing, provide more opportunities for growing in discipleship, and ultimately, bring more people to know and love Jesus Christ.

With support from Lilly Endowment, CLI is helping more parishes become the beacons of hope, holiness, hospitality, and healthy leadership and evangelization that our Church so truly merits!

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2018 $1m Grant:
Lilly Endowment Helps Revolutionize the Priest Placement Process in America

In 2018, Catholic Leadership Institute received a $1 million grant to help establish a new service – Called For More – to revolutionize the discernment, appointment, and transitional support of priest assignments in the U.S. Catholic Church. The grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

Lilly Endowment made nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.

Catholic Leadership Institute is one of 78 organizations located in 29 states taking part in the initiative. The organizations reflect diverse Christian traditions: mainline and evangelical Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox.

Called For More Embraces Tradition

Thriving in Ministry is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen pastoral leadership in Christian congregations in the United States. This has been a grantmaking priority at Lilly Endowment for almost 30 years.

So too, this year, Catholic Leadership Institute celebrates 30 years of service. Throughout our 30-year mission, we have remained steadfastly dedicated to serving Church leaders with a special heart for our shepherds, our priests.

“Our apostolate was founded on the belief that God’s gift to us is our potential, what we do with that potential, is our gift to God,” said Dan Cellucci, CEO of Catholic Leadership Institute. “We are very honored to have been awarded this Lilly grant and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the many bishops and priests committed to providing the best support for pastoral leadership.”

It is a blessing to support priests; it is also a blessing to have funding to help reinvent the process of priest assignment, transition, and support throughout the country.

“Leading a congregation today is multi-faceted and exceptionally demanding,” said Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for religion. “When pastors have opportunities to build meaningful relationships with experienced colleagues, they are able to negotiate the challenges of ministry and their leadership thrives. These promising programs, including Catholic Leadership Institute’s pastoral placements program, will help pastors develop these kinds of relationships, especially when they are in the midst of significant professional transitions.”

Called For More Engages New Ideas

Catholic Leadership Institute’s Called For More service seeks to transform the current reality of the priest placement process and provide crucial transitional support to pastors as they move to new parishes. The service uses technology to better align priests’ gifts and skills with the needs of parish communities, equip pastors and their new parishes with individualized, long-term transition plans, and offer targeted roadmaps for self-care and professional development to support pastors through their ministry transitions. Already in pilot dioceses, Catholic Leadership Institute has seen this service maximizing the potential for effective leadership and support thriving parish communities.

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Phenomenal Philanthropy; Great Gratitude

At the heart of each of these grants is the idea of ‘thriving’ people and communities. These grants have helped CLI thrive as well, in its mission to minister to dioceses, parishes, and pastors.

As good stewards of these grants, Catholic Leadership Institute is committed to creating impact and transformation. To Called For More and Next Generation Parish, we bring a profound sense of gratitude, an ever-present zeal for supporting thriving communities, and a tireless dedication to empowering leadership.

We thank Lilly Endowment for its impactful philanthropy and look forward to doing our part as we embrace traditions and engage new ideas.

by Chad Peddicord

Oct 07, 2021

Updates