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San Damiano Scholarship Program for Church Leadership

Explore the call.

No matter where your career interests lie, explore the call to something bigger than yourself—communities, churches, schools, nonprofit organizations, healthcare providers, and other groups need talented engaged leaders who are filled with the compassion, light, and love of their faith.

If you want to make a difference in your community, church, and profession, learn more about this prestigious scholarship program. We'll help you explore your values, beliefs, and find your life's work.

Where Does the name San Damiano come from?

Eight centuries ago in the Italian town of Assisi, a young man named Francis had an experience that changed history. As he knelt before the crucifix in the church of San Damiano, Francis heard Christ speak: "Francis, go rebuild my church, which you see is falling into ruin."

We believe God echoes these words to us today, encouraging us to respond in new ways to meet growing needs. Marian University's San Damiano Scholars strive to understand and discern what “rebuild my church” means to them. It’s a profoundly important—and individual—challenge with lasting societal implications.


Hours of recorded service by the 2020 class


Scholars in the San Damiano Scholars Program


Only one program like it in the country!

What career path is calling you?

crossWe believe the Church deserves well-formed and grounded leaders. People who are willing to answer the call to something larger than themselves. People who are willing to explore their beliefs and find their life’s work. People who have a love for their church and want to explore faith-based career options, like:

  • Parishes: Youth and young adult ministers, directors of religious education, pastoral associates, diocesan ministry, and parish business managers.
  • K-12 schools: Teachers, program directors, principals, and others in parish and church-based elementary, middle, and high schools.
  • Healthcare: Nurses, doctors, physical/occupational therapists.
  • Business and not-for-profit organizations: Accountants, entrepreneurs, marketers, and directors of nonprofit and social service agencies.

Learn. Pray. Grow.

Inspired by scripture, our San Damiano Scholars Program for Church Leadership provides holistic student development:

  • Human
  • Spiritual
  • Intellectual
  • Pastoral


At Marian University, our mission is to be a great Catholic university dedicated to excellent teaching and learning in the Franciscan and liberal arts traditions.

As St. Francis was called to rebuild the church, we are called to prepare you for ordained ministry or religious life, for lay leadership, and for careers pursued in light of the call to service from God.

Having a solid theological foundation is important to future church leaders. Knowing what the church teaches and why—and to pastorally apply that knowledge—is vital.

  • If admitted to this program, you will earn a minor in pastoral leadership and complete a set of theology courses designed for students majoring in specific subjects.

Learn more about our pastoral leadership minor


Student PrayingAs a future church leader, your life will be rooted in prayer. We help San Damiano scholars develop daily rhythms for their prayer lives through membership in a like-minded community of peers who all want to grow spiritually. These are some examples:

  • Sacraments: You will attend one extra liturgy outside of your Sunday obligation and continuously practice reconciliation.
  • Retreats: You will attend two annual retreats: One with all San Damiano scholars and one with just those scholars in your class.
  • Monthly formational meetings: Held on the third Sunday of the month, you'll join in community fellowship to pray, learn, socialize, and grow.
  • Theological reflections: You will complete at least eight (8) hours of service each month, reflecting theologically on each service experience.
  • Spiritual direction: You'll meet monthly with a certified spiritual director of your choosing and unpack your heart.


As a San Damiano scholar, we'll help you be open to the ways in which God moves in and through your life. We'll help you grow in ways you never expected and live a life beyond the ordinary through experiences like:

  • Leadership in Campus Ministry: Throughout your time on campus, you will take on leadership roles within Campus Ministry to help walk with your peers in their journey of faith by being a liturgical minister, peer minister, or serve on a leadership committee.
  • Community service: Completing eight (8) hours of service a month on campus, in local churches, and within the Indianapolis community.
  • Self-evaluations: You will complete an annual self-evaluation as you progress through the program.
  • Sophomore ministry: Working with our Office of Campus Ministry, you will propose, plan, and execute a faith-based project open to all Marian University students. 
  • Faith-based internships: As a junior and senior, you will complete an internship for your chosen profession in a faith-focused environment.
  • Senior capstone: In your senior year, you will design capstone project that impacts faith at the university, in our local community, or elsewhere around the world.

Apply. Interview. Accept.

be open to the ways in which God moves in and through your lifeTo be eligible, you should:

  • Be focused on academics and intellectually curious, both in and out of the classroom.
  • Have a minimum 3.00 GPA.
  • Demonstrate leadership and service in your high school, community, and church.
  • Have a desire to serve or work in a faith-based capacity after earning your bachelor's degree.
  • Have an openness and desire to discern one’s calling.
  • Apply for admission to Marian University.
  • Complete our San Damiano Scholarship application in the fall of your senior year in high school.

If you are a high school senior, plan now to: 

  1. Schedule a campus visit at Marian University.
  2. Submit an application and gain admittance to Marian University.
  3. Complete the San Damiano Scholarship Application.

Upon review of your application, we'll notify you if you are invited to interview.

Once accepted, we'll provide you with more information about student orientation and getting ready for fall classes.

Connect. Visit. Engage.

All High School Students:

  1. Sign-up to be recruited for the San Damiano Scholarship Program for Church Leadership.
  2. Schedule an official visit to Marian University's campus.
  3. Apply for the Missionary Disciples Institute at Marian University held on campus for one week over the summer if you are not a senior.
  4. Connect with us by following the San Damiano Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts!

Nominate a student

At Marian University, we offer a $8,500 scholarship (per year, over four years) to students who are ready to be intentionally formed and educated to be a leader in the Church. Whether that student seeks to be a minister in a parish or nurse in faith-based hospital, we are seeking students who desire to answer God's call for their lives.

Here is where we need your help. Can you identify, name, and connect us to student you think would be good fits for this scholarship program?

Nominate your students for the San Damiano Scholars Program

With your nominations, we will teach the student about the program and invite them to apply.


  • Patrick Verhiley
    Patrick Verhiley
    Interim Director of San Damiano Scholars Program
    (317) 955-6459
    Stokely Mansion
  • Elizabeth Ortlepp
    Elizabeth Ortlepp '16
    Recruiter for The San Damiano Scholars Program
    (317) 294-2859 - mobile
    Stokely Mansion B

Financial aid

We believe in the value of a Marian University education and that students pursuing higher education are making an investment in themselves and in their future. The costs of college and the idea of student debt, however – especially at a private university like Marian – can be concerning and even overwhelming to students and their families, especially when students are looking at more mission focused jobs. That’s why we’re excited to offer a loan repayment assistance program (LRAP).

Our LRAP is a safety net, we offer for students that are recipients of the San Damiano Scholarship. Once you are employed after graduation, if you earn less than $43,000 per year, we will help you repay your student (and parent PLUS) loans until you do.

The PLU Pledge covers all federal direct and private alternative student loans, as well as parent PLUS loans.

LRAP Eligibility

  • Simply enroll at Marian and are San Damiano Scholar Recipients
  • Must graduate with a Bachelor's degree from Marian University
  • After graduation:
    • Must be employed an average of 30 hours/week and earn less than $43,000/year
    • Must work in the U.S. and cannot work for family

To learn more you may review the terms and conditions at

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Notice of Nondiscrimination
Marian University does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, creed, national origin, age or disabilities in the selection of administrative personnel, faculty and staff, and students.
*Placement rates are gathered from data collected from graduates within six months of graduation.

Students may make a complaint to the Indiana Commission of Higher Education.

Marian University is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, Indiana.

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