Have you heard people at St. Tom’s talking about ESTEEM and wondered, “What is that?” We asked ESTEEM participant Melanie Papariella to tell us a little more about what it is! Check it out below.
“ESTEEM is Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission. Funded through the generosity of an anonymous foundation, ESTEEM is a program answering the question of how to stay involved in church (no matter where life takes me) after college. A holistic approach, the program includes theological education, practical fieldwork, and mentoring opportunities for students. In the end, participants of ESTEEM are able to bring their skills learned in classes and in campus ministry programs to their new parishes, dioceses, and local Catholic agencies. Through ESTEEM, the spirit of faith, prayer, and service can continue to grow even after graduation.
So, what it is it really like? Well, once a week, eight of us get together for a lecture/discussion presented by a St. Tom’s staff member. These lecture/discussions have ranged in topics from leadership to social concerns. In addition, we read a number of books that relate back to the topic covered each week. Yes, I will admit, the time commitment can be a bit overwhelming. Nevertheless, the program has made it worth it!
Thus far, my favorite part of this program has been the mentor-ship. Each of us has been partnered up with a resident parishioner of St. Tom’s. On our own time, we meet with our mentor to talk about ESTEEM topics, the Church, or just what’s going on in our lives. In my meetings with my mentor, I have learned how important it is to persevere when joining a new community: “Each community is unique. Your talents and knowledge are needed, but it may take some time to figure out where you have been called to serve.” Thanks to my mentor, I know I can take my energy and enthusiasm to whatever parish God intends for me to join.
Without a doubt, college has been a big part of our lives. Moreover, the community of St. Tom’s is something near and dear to our hearts. St. Tom’s has always been there for us, through the thick and the thin. But like all good books, college will end. In a few months, we will dawn on the cap and gown and walk across the stage to receive our diploma. We will soon enter the real world. Some of us are ready, but I think it is safe to say that many of us are a little nervous. However, the eight of us know that ESTEEM is the bridge between college and the real-world. Faith is always a part of the journey. Wherever we may go, the Church has called us to share our gifts and talents, especially those in leadership. We can always find a home away from home in the Church. All it takes is perseverance and faith.
Thank you Church for having ESTEEM!