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In 1996, the Catholic Common Ground Initiative was founded in an effort to lessen polarities and divisions that weaken the communion of the Church. At the origin of the Initiative, the National Pastoral Life Center released a charter statement, “Called to Be Catholic,” proposing guidelines for dialogue within the Church.

Catholics On Call is a unique, innovative program for young adults that helps them discern their vocation, and consider a life of ministry in the church. The mission of Catholics On Call is to delve deeply into the mystery of God’s call, by bringing people together who can share their experiences, pray, talk, and help one another understand how God is at work in their lives. 

The Peacebuilders Initiative is an innovative program of the Bernardin Center that prepares Catholic high school youth for leadership roles in peacemaking, reconciliation, and conflict transformation, and inspires them to consider ministry as a life choice.

The Catholic-Muslim Studies Program is dedicated to building bridges of mutual understanding and profound respect between Muslims and Christians. The vision of this program is to create significant opportunities for the relationship between Muslims and Christians to deepen, and to reflect only the noblest values and highest ideals of their common spiritual heritage.

The Catholic Muslim Studies Program sponsors study, publication, dialogue, and cultural events in an effort to achieve these goals:

Catholic-Jewish Studies have been a part of Catholic Theological Union since its inception in 1968. Because of Cardinal Bernardin's profound commitment to Catholic-Jewish dialogue, this program with its array of lectures, workshops and courses has been expanded and integrated into the Bernardin Center.

To be considered for this competitive scholarship, prospective Bernardin Scholars should have:

In addition to the requirements of their selected degree program, Bernardin Scholars participate in the following special programs, that enhance their education and ministerial formation. 

The Colloquia

The Bernardin Colloquia consists of monthly seminars and theological reflection conducted by the Bernardin Center director. Cardinal Bernardin’s colleagues and trusted advisors, as well as experts in his Signature Issues, are featured in the seminars. 

The Director: Sheila McLaughlin

Sheila McLaughlin, a graduate of Catholic Theological Union, has served as the Director of the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Center since 2001. Previous to this position, Sheila was the Director of the Office for Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Chicago, the first lay person to hold that position.

Bernardin Center National Advisory Board

Dr. Ghulam-Haider Aasi
American Islamic College
Chicago, IL

Dr. Javeed Akhter, M.D.
Executive Director
International Strategy and Policy Institute
Oakbrook, IL

Bernardin Graduates have gone on to a variety of ministries, leadership roles, and advanced studies. These former Scholars advance the mission of the Bernardin Center through the positions they take and the lives they lead. Here are a few of their stories: