Applications for the 2023 Cohort being accepted! Apply now

“Are you ready to take up the Lord’s call to be a missionary disciple by serving as a Catholic educator? For to live the mission of Catholic education means to give life to our students by opening their minds, hearts and lives to Christ and his Gospel. It means challenging our young people to know and live the Truth. It is to stand with them as they grow in wisdom and grace. If you are ready to take up this mission, then the Aquinas Fellowship Program is waiting for you.”

- Bishop Frank Caggiano

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Program Overview

The Aquinas Fellowship Community is a unique opportunity for a soon-to-be or recent college graduate, who is passionate about the growth and development of Catholic school students, to gain valuable experience in one of the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic schools as an educator, school social worker, or counselor, while earning their master's degree in one of Fairfield University's School of Education and Human Development graduate programs.

Accepted Fellows will live in a supportive community during their time in the program and are provided opportunities to deepen their faith. The goal for each Fellow is to develop into highly skilled, motivated, and committed Catholic School faculty or staff members, who will advance Pre-K-12 Catholic education. In addition to an annual stipend, housing and tuition are provided by a generous donor and strong supporter of Catholic Education.

Participants must commit to a minimum of 3 years – two years as a Fellow as they complete the coursework and one year as a paid employee of the Diocese of Bridgeport once the degree is completed. Participants who do not complete the program must reimburse the diocese at a prorated rate based on length of time in the program.

Why participate?

Our Catholic Schools are filled with compassion, dedication, and faith, and offer a unique and supportive environment for the students, faculty, and staff within each school. Fellows are immersed in a rewarding learning assignment in one of our schools were they will gain valuable experience and have the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of children. In addition, Fellows will receive free housing and live in community with other Fellows, an opportunity to develop their faith, and obtain a free master's degree*.

*Tuition costs are covered at 100%. Additional fees are covered by the student.

During their first two years of service, Aquinas Fellows:

  • Are placed in free housing, arranged by the diocese*
  • Receive a modest living allowance ($15,000 per year)
  • Are placed in an immersion teaching experience and/or internship within the Diocese of Bridgeport Schools
  • Receive educational and spiritual support as they balance life, college, and teaching
  • Focus on professional development, community and spiritual growth
  • Will live in a community and study together as part of a university collaboration and make a significant impact on the lives of the children that they serve
  • Gain an extraordinary learning experience
  • Upon completion of the program, receive a cost-free master’s degree in one of the degree areas offered through our collaboration with Fairfield University**
  • Are eligible for loan deferment with full-time student status

*Fellows contribute a modest amount each month to cover utilities and other day-to-day living expenses.

**Participants must commit to a minimum of 3 years – two years as a Fellow as they complete the coursework, and one year as a paid employee of the Diocese of Bridgeport once the degree is completed. Participants who do not complete the program must reimburse the diocese at a prorated rate based on length of time in the program.

Professional Development

Aquinas Fellows will be developed during their time in the community through a combination of mentorship, training, immersion in a student teaching and/or internship experience in one of our Diocesan Catholic schools, application of knowledge gained in the graduate level coursework, and the support of other Fellows. Overall, Aquinas Fellows will:

  • Participate in a two year student-teaching and/or internship role within elementary, secondary schools, or the Office of the Superintendent in the Diocese of Bridgeport
  • Receive extensive coursework training as they work to complete a master’s degree
  • Contribute their gifts and talents to their school communities

Community Life

For the first two years, the Aquinas Fellowship Program provides subsidized housing for cohorts of 4-7 members that enables a spirit of community around shared experience, mission, and support. Participants are called to grow together in faith, to support one another, and to challenge each other as they develop personally, professionally, and spiritually. Fellows will live in a residence provided by the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Spiritual Growth

Aquinas Fellows are invited to deepen their relationship with God and encouraged to integrate spirituality into their community life and schools, and to use spirituality as a support to provide strength and nourishment. A spiritual director will work with the community of Aquinas Fellows throughout the first two years to assist in deepening one’s relationship with God by developing an active, vital prayer life through coursework, retreats, Mass, and prayer services.

What are the requirements of the program?

Applicants will:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Be passionate about making a positive impact on the lives of students in Catholic education
  • Embrace the Catholic faith and desire to continually develop
  • Support other Fellows within the community and positively contribute to the living environment
  • Have some experience working with children
  • Complete and submit the Application for Admittance to the Aquinas Fellowship Program
  • Participate in a personal interview
  • Agree to the program policies
  • Apply and be accepted into an approved master’s degree program at Fairfield University


Download the Spring 2021 Semi-annual Newsletter
Our current newsletter includes a message from the Superintendent, a program update, and a retreat reflection by Hope Bahnke.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be Catholic?

Yes. The Aquinas Fellowship Community looks to attract talented, faith-filled teachers, counselors, or social workers, to the Diocese of Bridgeport who are committed to the teachings of the Catholic faith and will nurture the faith of our students. Being a practicing Catholic who is committed to one's faith is essential to successfully participate in this program.

Do I get to select what I teach and where?

During the application process, you will be asked for your preference in teaching assignment and school level. We will compare that against the list of teacher openings and match interest whenever possible.

What G.P.A. is required for acceptance into the program?

Candidates who wish to be considered should have earned a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher in their Bachelor’s degree program.

What is the stipend I will be paid while participating?

The stipend is approximately $15,000 per year.

Will I be responsible for paying utilities?

Yes. However, the cost will be divided between the Diocese of Bridgeport and the fellows accepted into the program.

Is transportation provided?

No. Each fellow will need to have his/her own transportation. Free parking is available at the residence.

Is there a minimum grade I need to maintain in my graduate courses?

A "C" or better is required on all graduate coursework being pursued while in this program.

How long is my commitment?

Participants must commit to a minimum of 3 years* – two years as a Fellow as they complete the coursework and one year as a paid employee of the Diocese of Bridgeport once the degree is completed. Participants who do not complete the program must reimburse the diocese at a prorated rate based on length of time in the program. *School Counseling coursework will take approximately two and a half years to complete and will extend the length of time in the program.

Will I be responsible for paying rent?


What is required to complete and submit an application?

Items you will need to complete your application include:  a photo; unofficial copy of your transcripts; answers to essay prompts; 4 recommendation letters and contact information (Academic, Work, Spiritual, Residence Assistance/Roommate); Resume.

What if I leave before the 3 year commitment is satisfied?

If for some reason you are unable to fulfill the 3 year commitment, you will be required to reimburse the diocese for all or a pro-rated portion of the tuition paid on your behalf.  The amount will be determined by the length of time you participate in the program and tuition fees paid.

Email us

If you have additional questions, please email us at