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The Summer Theology Institute invites high school students to camp to explore “theology of beauty” 


Zelda Caldwell - published on 05/16/22

The “Beauty Will Save the World” camp at The University of St. Francis features workshops on prayer, iconography, theology, fellowship and recreation.

The Summer Theology Institute at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is once again offering its highly acclaimed week-long overnight summer theology camp for high school students. 

Dubbed “Beauty Will Save the World,” the camp takes its name from a line in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel, The Idiot. Operating under the conviction that the Catholic faith can provide an antidote to the ills of a relativistic, modern world, the Summer Theology Institute is inviting students to “come to know their Creator through beauty,” explain the camp’s organizers.

Thanks to a grant from the Lilly Endowment, the cost of the camp is only $99, and all high school students including graduated seniors are invited to take part.

Encountering God through Beauty

In this idyllic setting, campers will explore the theology of beauty, through seminars with theology and philosophy professors, and workshops on prayer and the spiritual life. By the end of the week, they will have created their own work of beautiful religious art.

“The focus of our camp has always been not just to study beauty and its role in the life of the Church and world, but to create it with our students. To that point, every year we invite a trained iconographer to work with the students to paint an icon of Christ, Mary, or the Saints,” explains the Summer Institute’s coordinator, TimTrout.


By painting their own icons, students come to a greater appreciation of the artistic tradition of the Church, said Trout. Students will read and discuss the book, Icons in the Western Church: Toward a More Sacramental Encounter, by Sr. Jeana Visel OSB. This year, Sr. Jeana will be on campus to talk about the book and iconography in general.


Taught by University of St. Francis professors

A highlight of the camp is the opportunity students have to interact with professors at University of St. Francis, whether it be in a seminar on the theology of beauty or in an informal chat over lunch. 

Theology and philosophy professors also take part in the annual “Stump-the-Profs” panel where students switch roles and quiz their teachers on theology, philosophy, politics, or even comic books.

Exploring vocations and careers

Another panel focuses on vocations, including the priesthood, and religious and married life. Professors will share with the students their thoughts about how they live their Catholic faith in their chosen profession.

The program was designed to foster the idea that Catholics can serve the world through many careers, explains Trout.

“We hope for them to realize that they have a role to play in the universal call to evangelization through whatever passion God has inspired in them,” he sys.

Liturgical Worship and prayer

In addition to workshops on Lectio Divina, the Jesus Prayer, Sacred Meditation and Discernment, students immerse themselves in the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church.

Mass will be celebrated throughout the week, and students will have the opportunity to spend time in silent prayer in the chapel and go to Reconciliation.

Each morning and evening students gather in the St. Francis chapel to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and all of the students do so “without fail,” says Trout. 

“Last year I discovered that every morning the boys were all waking up at 6:00 am, to watch the sunrise while they prayed the rosary together,” Trout adds.

“The fraternity in prayer that students experience while at the camp has consistently been an inspiration to me,” he says.

The campus of the University of St. Francis

Outdoor recreation and activities

There’s plenty of time slated for socializing and recreation at the camp. Outdoor activities on the beautiful 100-acre campus include Ultimate Frisbee, Quidditch, basketball, hiking and fishing. There’s no shortage of fun activities in the evening, whether it be live music, roasting marshmallows on a fire, or guided stargazing.

The camp’s organizers explain, “Our goal is to introduce students to the joy that comes from a relationship with God and so we plan into our camp plenty of time for fun and for rest. Happy campers abound at the University of Saint Francis.”

Registration and details

Visit the Summer Theology Institute’s website to register:

When: The “Beauty Will Save the World” summer theology camp will take place between June 25 and July 1, on the campus of the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Who: All high school students are invited to register, including those who have just completed 8th grade and graduated high school seniors.

Cost: Thanks to a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment registration for the Summer Institute is only $99. This includes room and board for six days, all meals, a t-shirt, and art supplies.

Chaperones: Camp staff will be with the students throughout the day, and trained college mentors will be with them in the dorms to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay.

Register here!

Visit the camp’s registration page.

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