New York Times Follows Notre Dame Graduates through Religious Discernment in ACE
New York Times religion commentator Samuel Freedman, who wrote about ACE's faith communities in Tucson in 2012, digs deeper into the unique formation provided by the ACE Teaching Fellows program. He spent a weekend with some of our teachers during the ACE Summer and walked away with an insightful look at the impact ACE has on preparing those who have discerned the call to priesthood and religious life.
Freedman writes: "Since its founding 23 years ago at Notre Dame, ACE has trained 1,753 college graduates to teach for two years in Catholic schools with low-income, largely nonwhite student bodies. Not unlike priests, brothers or sisters, ACE volunteers live in intentional households, being paid a stipend so modest that they are compelled by finances as well as faith to cook, clean, plan and pray communally.
A handful entered the seminary in the first 12 years. Then, in 2005, ACE began to promote vocations by taking interested teachers on a pilgrimage, and it started the annual Vocation Day — a mixture of worship services and question-and-answer sessions. This summer’s version attracted a sizable number of the 185 ACE teachers on campus for required graduate courses in education.
By now, 41 ACE alumni have gone “into formation,” as Catholic lexicon puts it, for the priesthood or a religious order. Of them, nine men have been ordained as priests and one woman has taken her vows. Another 10 alumni are still studying, while the remaining 21 left the process."