The Francis Youth Institute

The Francis Youth Institute for Theology and Leadership

"All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents."

High school students spent the week studying theology and exploring the outdoors in the great northwest during the 2016 camp. Check out the blog by GU student and FYI Peer Mentor Megan O'Malley for a recap of this fantastic program.

Contact institute co-directors:
Dr. Joseph Mudd,
Dr. Anastasia Wendlinder,

FAQs about the Francis Youth Institute (FYI) at Gonzaga University

When does FYI take place?

Past: July 16-22, 2017
Future: The next progarm will be in the summer of 2017. Dates to be announced.

How much does FYI cost?

Thanks to the support of the Lily Endowment and Gonzaga University, students pay $375 for summer 2017. Scholarships are available. Please contact one of the co-directors for more information.

Who is eligible to participate in FYI?

Students must be entering their junior or senior years of high school.

Where do students stay?

Students will reside in Gonzaga University dormitories for the week. These facilities are secured and monitored. Gonzaga resident assistants will be on hand to assist students.

Are meals provided?

Students will receive a meal plan that allows them to use Gonzaga University dinning facilities.

Are students chaperoned and safe?

Students will be assigned to a small group led by a Gonzaga student. In addition to leading small faith-sharing groups these "peer mentors" are trained by Gonzaga residence life. In addition, the program co-directors, regular summer residence life resident assistants, and Gonzaga University security will be availbe during FYI.

What will the students be doing during FYI?
  • exploring theological questions regarding God, Creation, Human Dignity, Sin, Grace, Incarnation, Salvation, Church, Spirituality, and Catholic Social Teaching with Gonzaga University faculty
  • sharing faith in small group conversations led by Gonzaga students
  • reflecting on what God is calling them to do with their lives
  • celebrating the liturgy and praying together
  • learning to work in teams
  • hiking Mount Spokane
  • rafting the Spokane River
  • working at a Catholic Charities farm
  • trekking to the Sacred Heart Mission in Cataldo, ID
Our Mission (who we are)

The Francis Youth Institute for Theology and Leadership inspires high school youth to consider vocations in theology and ministry in service to the church, the human community, and our common home.

Our Vision (what we do)

Inspired by Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si, The Francis Youth Institute offers high school juniors and seniors transformative experiences that enable them to see the connections between theology, ecology, and economics, and empowers them to respond creatively and compassionately to contemporary ethical challenges as emerging leaders in their communities. Grounded in the Ignatian tradition, the program invites participants into a deeper relationship with God and to a new sense of the possibilities for serving God with their lives. By the end of the week-long summer program participants will have explored fundamental theological questions about creation and human dignity, developed spiritual and leadership practices grounded in the Ignation tradition, and acquired a new appreciation for the inter-dependent character of the natural environment and the human community.

Our Values (why we do it)

The Francis Youth Institute promotes three core values that orient the programming we offer our students: missionary discipleship, ecological conversion and theological dialogue:

Missionary Discipleship - The joy of Gospel impels the Christian to go out to the margins, not to proselytize, but in the hope of genuine encounter for the good of the other. "All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization... Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are 'disciples' and 'missionaries', but rather that we are always 'missionary disciples'" (Evangelium Vitae, 120).

Ecological Conversion - In Laudato Si, Pope Francis writes, "Various convictions of our faith... can help us to enrich the meaning of this conversion. These include the awareness that each creature reflects something of God and has a message to convey to us, and the security that Christ has taken unto himself this material world and now, risen, is intimately present to each being, surrounding it with his affection and penetrating it with his light. Then too, there is the recognition that God created the world, writing into it an order and a dynamism that human beings have no right to ignore... I ask all Christians to recognize and to live fully this dimension of their conversion. May the power and the light of the grace we have recieved also be evident in our relationship to other creatures and to the world around us. In this way, we will help nurture that sublime fraternity with all creation which Saint Francis of Assisi so radiantly embodied" (Laudato Si, 221)

Theological Dialogue - Theological dialogue emerges through an encounter between religion and culture. Theology must be in dialogue with the natural and human sciences if it is to support the evangelical mission of Christianity. "A theology - and not simply a pastoral theology - which is in dialogue with other sciences and human experiences is most important for our discernment on how best to bring the Gospel message to different cultural contexts and groups. The Church, in her commitment to evangelization, appreciates and encourages the charism of theologians and their scholarly efforts to advance dialogue with the world of cultures and sciences. I call on theologians to carry out this service as part of the Church's saving mission. In doing so, however, they must always remember that the Church and theology exist to evangelize, and not be content with a desk-bound theology" (Evangelium Vitae, 133).

For more information please contact the institute co-directors: Dr. Joseph Mudd, or Dr. Anastasia Wendlinder,

Additional Resources

Catholic Climate Covenant

Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter, Laudato Si, "On Care for our Common Home"

Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, "On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World"

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Stewardship

The Washington State Catholic Conference

Gonzaga University, Sustainability

502 E. Boone Avenue
Spokane, WA 99258-0057
Phone: (509) 313-6782