Building Peace and Making Leaders

The Peacebuilders Initiative is a program of the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union that prepares youth for active leadership roles in peacemaking and reconciliation.  Coming from across the Chicagoland area, the participants bring the theology and ministry they experience during this transformative program back to their schools, neighborhoods, and parishes through student-led peace projects. Founded in 2001 with a major grant from the Lilly Endowment, Peacebuilders Initiative has served over 400 high school youth, over 30 area high schools, and over 15 community organizations. As part of the program, the scholarship recipients spend a week immersing themselves in service projects and learning about peacemaking and community ministry. 
A group of five teenagers enrolled in this year’s Peacebuilders Initiative and spent a week at Marillac St. Vincent Family Services at the beginning of the summer.  The group split their time between Marillac and St. Vincent’s.  The week started off with an afternoon in the Nearly New Thrift Store, sorting clothes, cleaning the store, and shelving merchandise. Two days were spent at Marillac’s food pantry, unloading the food truck, stocking shelves, and assisting clients with their shopping.  The group ended the week hosting a bingo and ice cream social event for St. Vincent’s senior clients.

We are thankful to the Peacebuilders group and Catholic Theological Union for helping out our community in such an impactful way.  We are also inspired by seeing such young people determined to change the world in such a positive manner.  We cannot wait to see what their futures hold.



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  • Foglia Family & Youth Center
    2859 W. Jackson Blvd. Chicago, IL 60612
  • Marillac Social Center
    212 S. Francisco Ave. Chicago, IL 60612
  • St. Vincent de Paul Center
    2145 N. Halsted St. Chicago, IL 60614