Each year since 1998, the Diocesan Annual Appeal has designated funds for the education and formation of persons who are giving service to parishes and Catholic institutions within the Diocese of La Crosse. These monies are deposited on a quarterly basis into the Office of Ministries and Social Concerns budget and are to be disbursed from that office. The Pastoral Formation Fund is available to assist lay persons, deacons and religious within the Diocese who meet its criteria (priests already have funds dedicated to this purpose).
The purpose of funds designated in the Diocesan Annual Appeal for pastoral formation is to assist in the upgrading of pastoral skills or the completion of degree programs that enhance service to the Church in the Diocese of La Crosse.
III. Award Eligibility and Conditions
- Applicants must be providing current and substantial service to parishes or Catholic institutions within the Diocese of La Crosse.
- Applicants may seek scholarship assistance toward their enrollment in certificate programs, undergraduate programs or graduate programs in fields/disciplines pertinent to their Church service. The scholarship is reserved to persons enrolled in programs costing a minimum of $200.00 per year.
- It has been customary for parishes to fund directly persons who participate in the diocesan Lay Formation Institute and the diocesan Leader of Prayer Program. Except in extraordinary circumstances, assistance from the Pastoral Formation Fund is not to be provided for this purpose.
- Scholarships will be awarded in the form of matching grants. The pastor of the parish or director of the institution being served by the applicant (or, in the case of diocesan staff, the Bishop, through a separate funding source) must agree in writing to provide $1.00 of assistance from the parish or institution for every $2.00 of scholarship assistance sought from the Pastoral Formation Fund. A maximum of $700 per fiscal year may be received from the Pastoral Formation Fund. The full funding of a request is not guaranteed.
- Hermits or members of institutes dedicated to contemplative prayer, whose means are limited and whose service to the Diocese consists chiefly in prayer, are exempt from the conditions outlined above.
- Scholarships from the Pastoral Formation Fund are intended solely for tuition costs, and not for added expenses such as room and board, travel, books, etc.
- Scholarship awards will be made payable to the institution of learning for which they are sought. They are not to be applied to debts for education previously undertaken.
- The due dates for applications to the Pastoral Formation Fund are April 1, August 1, and December 1. A new application must be submitted for each period in which aid is desired.
- Awards are determined by the Pastoral Formation Fund Committee, chaired by the Director of the Office of Ministries and Social Concerns. If initial or continuing eligibility of an applicant is in dispute, that committee shall make the final determination.
- Awards from the Pastoral Formation Fund must not conflict with existing federal and state financial aid regulations in institutions of higher education. Any conflicts must be resolved before the award is announced.
- Changes in these guidelines may be made with the approval of the diocesan Bishop when strong and sufficient reasons exist.