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Sheffer Fund for Roman Catholic Studies

The Paul Frederick Sheffer Fund for Roman Catholic Studies awards grants to students and faculty for travel/study and social justice projects, provides library materials, funds internships with Roman Catholic agencies of community service, and supports visiting lecturers and block visitors. The Sheffer Fund supports such courses as Sainthood in Catholic Tradition, Spiritual Quests in Literature, Latin American Philosophy and Literature, and Sacramental Imagination.

Paul Sheffer was a Colorado College student who lost his life in an airplane crash in March 1978. The tragedy was compounded by the death of Andrew Reich, a classmate, who was also a passenger in the plane piloted by Paul’s uncle. Mary Wynne Sheffer chose to honor her son’s life with a gift that will continue to benefit future generations of students. Having earlier donated to the college ministry of the Archdiocese of Denver, she established the Paul Sheffer Memorial Endowment in Paul’s memory in 1983, shortly before her own death from cancer.

The initial endowment, wisely managed by Joseph Pickle, Professor of Religion emeritus, and Kenneth Burton, Dean of Shove Chapel emeritus, with the support of the Colorado Springs Diocese, has grown to a fund capable of supporting ambitious research projects and library acquisitions. The fund is administered by the Dean’s Office with the help of the Sheffer Fund Advisory Committee.  The committee is chaired by the Associate Dean of the Faculty, Mike Siddoway, and has representatives from the Religion Department, faculty outside of the Religion Department, the student body, the Colorado Springs Diocese, and the Chaplain of the College.

Applicants for Sheffer grants need not be members of the Catholic Church to apply, but each project must contribute to understanding Roman Catholicism, and its results must be presented to the wider community in a public forum. Student projects must be sponsored by a Colorado College faculty member, but there are no restrictions regarding the primary academic discipline of the applicant. We have awarded grants to projects in anthropology, art, history, literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, and religion. We consider proposals three times during the academic year. Deadlines are the first Monday of Blocks 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. All proposals sent back to proposers for revision, must be returned to the committee by the 3rd Friday of Block 7.   

Applications for grants should include:

  1. Clear statement of the project, indicating its direct relation to Roman Catholic studies and its relevance to the applicant’s educational program and personal development. The proposal should indicate the applicant’s relevant academic preparation for the proposed project and a bibliography of research material.
  2. Detailed budget, listing all costs and all other sources of funding.
  3. Letters of support for the project from one or more Colorado College faculty.
  4. For internship proposals, a letter from the on-site supervisor.
  5. Plans for a presentation of the results of the project to the campus community during the following semester.
  6. Institutional Review Board approval of interview questions, where relevant. 

For students interested in proposals related to pilgrimages, please fill out the questionnaire at this link: Pilgrimage Pre-proposal Questionnaire.  We also require students watch the video provided at this link before submitting a proposal that involves pilgrimages.

All proposals should be submitted as e-mail attachments to Mike Siddoway at

All funded student projects must be completed (including the presentation to the campus community) before the student graduates. Proposals will be circulated to members of the Sheffer Advisory Committee for review. The proposal may be returned with suggestions for clarification or refinement. The proposal may be resubmitted after revision. The committee will select the proposals to be funded and successful applicants will be notified immediately. Proposals will be judged on the value of the project as a contribution to Roman Catholic studies, the design of the research or internship, the preparation of the applicant, and the quality of writing.

Recent student projects supported by the Paul Sheffer Fund include:

  • Christians, Vikings, and Trolls: A Brief History of Roman Catholicism in Norway
  • Comparing 21st Century Pilgrimages in the Buddhist and Catholic Traditions
  • Veneration of Saints in Italian Villages: Following the Festivals
  • Research at Sacre Coeur Hospital in Beirut on service during the Lebanese Civil War
  • Reinventing the Catholic Faith: Investigating Ecclesial Base Communities in Post-revolution Nicaragua
  • Volunteer work in St. Mary’s Mission Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Photographic Essay on Catholic Community and Ancient Churches in Azerbaijan
  • Volunteer work with No More Deaths Campaign on U.S.-Mexican Border
  • La Saleth Festival in South India: A Study of Hindu-Catholic Syncretism
  • Research on Catherine of Siena in Italy
  • Archives Preservation for Sister of Perpetual Adoration at Mount Saint Francis
  • Ethnobotanical Investigation of Catholic-Bwiti Crossroads: Bantu Ritual Use of Hallucinogens
  • Faculty-Student retreat at Benedictine monastery in North Dakota
  • St. John's Bible Exhibition, with featured speakers and workshops (with Benet Hill Monastery)
  • Roman Catholic Patronage in Baroque Ceiling Paintings (Farnese Gallery in Rome)
  • Catholic Values in the Peacebuilding Process (Sanski Most, Bosnia-Herzegovina)
  • Archival study of Los Hermanos Penitentes in New Mexico and Colorado in the late 1600s
  • Roman Catholic Epistolary Tradition in France and Spain
  • In the Wake of the Water Wars: Catholicism and Socialism in Cochabamba
  • Colorado College Symposium on "Religion and Public Life"