FORT WAYNE — Today, the OSV Innovation Challenge sent out an open call to apply for three $100,000 prizes, which will be granted to Catholics with project ideas to impact the Church and the world.
The OSV Innovation Challenge is a multi-round contest designed to incubate projects in any stage, from work-in-progress ideas to operational small businesses. Running from August 5 to December 1, 2019, the application is open to projects from artists, inventors, ministers, entrepreneurs — anyone whose Catholic faith has inspired them to make a difference.
Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) Institute President Jason Shanks pioneered this unique grant program because the stakes for the Church are high. The Catholic Church loses 6.5 people for every one convert, with millennials disaffiliating at an unprecedented rate. Those who leave often cite a lack of vitality, beauty, and relatability in their churches.
“The Church has a crisis,”
“An innovation crisis. What we’ve been doing as a Church is not working. We need thinkers and entrepreneurs to bring people to Christ’s Church in new ways — not to change teaching or doctrine, but to put the ‘new’ in ‘New Evangelization.’”
Shanks sought out a few such entrepreneurs to make the Challenge a reality. Anthony D’Ambrosio and Marcellino D’Ambrosio founded the 4000-member community of creators called Catholic Creatives, which utilizes online resources and in-person events to unlock creativity and empower the innovative efforts of its members. The D’Ambrosio brothers helped design the Challenge to bring about a “new renaissance” of innovation, creativity, and zeal in the Church.
Anthony D’Ambrosio cites the medieval Renaissance as inspiration for the Challenge. “We know the art of Michaelangelo and inventions of DaVinci only because influential people like the Medicis collaborated with up-and-coming artists,” said D’Ambrosio. “It was the unlikely partnership between the business establishment of Florence and a group of young, passionate creatives that sparked the renewal of an entire civilization — what we now call the Italian Renaissance. That’s what Jason [Shanks] and the OSV Institute are doing with the Challenge.”
Catholic Creatives (CC) has taken to the road to do just that. Sponsored by the OSV Institute, CC Regionals feature community building, live art presentations, beautiful liturgies, and “design challenges”: dedicated periods of collaborative brainstorming where passionate Catholics design creative solutions to problems facing the Church. OSV will publish these solutions in a white paper at the end of the year.
By teaching creative strategies and connecting attendees with fellow innovators, CC Regionals are also a chance for OSV Challenge applicants to hone their skills. The Regionals are an outgrowth of the Challenge’s catalyzing force — an opportunity to give the Church innovative ideas at a pivotal moment. These events will be happening in cities across the United States.
While being able to host events for creatives and grant $100,000 to three worthy project ideas is certainly a highlight, the OSV Challenge team believes the prize is only the beginning. Shanks sees the Challenge and Regionals as “a chance to bring out the innovator in every Catholic.”
“We don’t have to be artists or entrepreneurs to be creative,”
said Marcellino D’Ambrosio.
“The first words of the Bible are, ‘In the beginning, God created.’ We are made for creativity, whether by sharing wisdom and support or innovating a new project. It’s our creative inheritance.”
In spite of the Church’s present losses and pains, the OSV Challenge team has hope.
“A new renaissance is possible, and I believe it’s happening now,”
said Anthony D’Ambrosio.
“It’s within every Catholic’s reach.”