Aquinas Fellowship Program
“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 for take up this mission, then the Aquinas Fellowship Program is waiting for you.”
- Bishop Frank Caggiano
The Diocese of Bridgeport (DOB) Aquinas Fellowship Program (AFP) is designed to form leaders and develop highly motivated and committed educators for the purpose of supporting Pre-K-12 Catholic education in Catholic schools. Professional development, community, and spiritual growth are the foundational principles of this program developed to attract talented, faith-filled Catholic college graduates who wish to renew and transform Catholic school classrooms.
Participants accepted into AFP live communally with other program participants, are given opportunities to develop their individual spirituality and work towards a Master’s degree either in Education, in a specific subject (such as Mathematics or Biology), School Counseling or School Psychology, while gaining student teaching experience in one of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport.
The program seeks to create a holistic formation of both teacher and individual while supporting the mission of enhancing Catholic school education. These educators, who will live in community and study together as part of a university collaboration, will make a significant impact on the lives of the children that they serve.
Participants must commit to a minimum of 4 years – two years as a Fellow as they complete the coursework and two years 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.
Ignited by their faith and wanting to serve, participants get the opportunity to make a deep and profound difference in the lives of children they teach and are supported with educational opportunities, a supportive community and spiritual guidance.
During their first two years of service, Aquinas Fellow:
- Are placed in affordable housing, arranged by the diocese*
- Receive a modest living allowance ($15,000 per year)
- Are placed in an immersion teaching experience 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 teaching 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 4 years – two years as a fellow as they complete the coursework and two years 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.
The DOB Aquinas Fellowship Program prepares teachers by integrating graduate level coursework with an immersion student teaching experience in our Catholic schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Aquinas Fellows will:
- Participate in a two year student-teaching role within elementary or secondary schools 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
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, 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.
Aquinas Fellows are invited to deepen each fellows' 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?
- Have a Bachelor’s degree
- Be a faith-filled person committed to positively impacting the lives of young people through service in Catholic Education and living in community with other Aquinas Fellowship Program members
- 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 program at Fairfield University
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to be Catholic?
Do I get to select what I teach and where?
What G.P.A. is required for acceptance into the program?
What is the stipend I will be paid while participating?
Will I be responsible for paying utilities?
Is transportation provided?
Is there a minimum grade I need to maintain in my graduate courses?
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 4 year commitment is satisfied?
If for some reason you are unable to fulfill the 4 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.