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About Us

“You are the Church, here and now, and you have a contribution to make.”  -  Joseph Cardinal Bernardin

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, our 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:

  • 400 high school youth - and counting
  • 33 Catholic high school communities
  • 24 parish communities
  • 16 community organizations
  • Countless underserved children and adults with whom the Peacebuilders participants minister.

There is no shortage of stories describing the impact of Peacebuilders Initiative on these individuals and communities.  Today, the 400 alums of the program are scattered across the country and indeed the globe working as Peace Corps and Marianist Volunteers, studying engineering and theology, working in public health and public interest law.  And, they often articulate the value of the experience of Peacebuilders Initiative in guiding their decisions and vocational paths.

“I really consider Peacebuilders a transformational program that turned my life in a great direction.  When people ask me where I get my drive to do social justice work, I always credit Peacebuilders and the people I met there first."  - Patrick Bourke, Peacebuilders ’05-’06 & Oberlin College’11, Religion and African American Studies 

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Peacebuilder?