Our Best and Brightest is Heading to Notre Dame

May 07, 2021

The Catholic Foundation congratulates Catholic Legacy Fund Assistant, Alyssa Salazar, on being selected as a recipient of the Catholic Extension Young Adult Leadership Initiative (YALI) scholarship. Alyssa was accepted to the University of Notre Dame Graduate School and begins her studies this summer.

Alyssa graduated from the all-girls Catholic school, Loretto Academy, in 2014, and finished Magna Cum Laude at The University of Texas at El Paso in 2018. She is engaged with her local church and serves in many capacities. She volunteers with the growing Confirmation program by assisting instructors and helping with online instruction, and helped organize and facilitate NET retreats for Confirmation students. When the pandemic started, she began to help every Sunday by sanitizing pews, conducting temperature checks, and assisting with the live streaming of Mass.

In between high school and university, Alyssa spent a year as a missionary for NET Ministries. When she visited the University of Notre Dame to conduct a retreat, she remembers thinking how amazing it would be to go to school at the Catholic institution, but never dreamed this day would come. She shared with her YALI cohorts that she still can't believe that she gets to pursue higher education at the University of Notre Dame, saying, "We have those desires in our hearts and God brings them to fruition. It may take days, it may take years, but He hears us and answers our prayers."

The purpose of this initiative is to help mission dioceses retain, educate and develop outstanding young adult leaders by nominating their “best and brightest” to pursue a Master of Arts in Religious Education, Theology, or Pastoral Ministry from one of Catholic Extension’s partnering universities, including Boston College, Fordham University, and the University of Notre Dame. The YALI program enables students to gain hands-on pastoral experience while continuing their education.

Mission dioceses generally are rural, cover a large geographic area, and have limited resources. Since 1905, Catholic Extension has given more than $500 million to 94 mission dioceses across the country.

In an interview with her high school alma mater, Loretto Academy, Alyssa said, "I am so grateful to the Catholic Foundation for nominating me for this amazing opportunity. I know that everything I have and every opportunity placed in front of me is a gift from God. I plan to give this gift right back to my family, community, and everyone I come in contact with. I am humbled and grateful for this bouquet of blessings from God."

Alyssa will continue to serve as the Catholic Legacy Fund Assistant at the Catholic Foundation while she pursues a Master of Arts in Theology at the University of Notre Dame. She works tirelessly and faithfully behind the scenes on meaningful projects, she keeps the Catholic Legacy Fund and Planned Giving programs running smoothly, and you will experience her faith, spirit, and efficiency during the 15th Annual Foundation of Faith Event: Ignite Your Hearts.

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