Tag Archives: Archbishop Samuel Aquila

Engaging a culture in decline

Legate Dr. Tim Gray leads the Augustine Institute’s mission to re-evangelize Catholics . . .

cover-sept14Less than a decade after launching its mission to train workers for the New Evangelization, Denver’s Augustine Institute has grown into one of America’s most popular Catholic graduate programs.

Named for a saint who lived in times remarkably similar to our own — and led by Dr. Tim Gray, a member of Legatus’ Denver Chapter — the institute offers on-site and distance education classes toward master’s degrees in theology and leadership for the New Evangelization. Other offerings include catechetical and youth ministry programs and leadership formation for parishes and dioceses.

Renewing Christendom

The idea for the institute grew out of conversations among Catholic leaders in a group that included Archbishop Charles Chaput, who led the Denver archdiocese at the time. The early envisioning sessions were a team effort, said Jonathan Reyes, Augustine’s co-founder and first president.

Reyes, who now leads the U.S. bishops’ department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, said he remembers sitting under a photograph from Denver’s 1993 World Youth Day, talking about what to call the institute.

“That’s when the name Augustine emerged. I said, ‘Hey, I think it should be called Augustine,’ and everybody said, ‘That’s it!’ Augustine lived at a time when there was massive cultural transformation and the Roman Empire itself was falling, yet it was also a time that gave birth to the renewal that became Christendom. We thought Augustine was the perfect bridge figure.”

Gray concurs.

Jonathan Reyes

Jonathan Reyes

“Augustine taught Christians how to live well in a declining culture and to be a light to renew it, to bring about a new and better culture. That’s really what we are trying to do.”

Gray said AI students learn a Catholic biblical worldview from Augustine’s writings that engages a secular world. “Augustine used all these great gifts to bring about a season of transformation for the Church that would last for generations. That’s what we want to give our students.”

From humble beginnings in rooms rented from the chancery and with an enrollment of 35 students, the institute outgrew its space within just two years, relocating to larger quarters in Loretto Heights. A few years ago, the institute moved to its own building in Greenwood Village, south of Denver, thanks to the generosity of a Legatus-member donor who offered a lease at a discounted price with a purchase option.

After starting with an on-site master’s program, Augustine added distance-learning, the YDisciple program for parish youth ministries, the Symbolon catechetical program, and training for parishes and dioceses on the New Evangelization, adult faith formation and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Dr. Edward Sri

Dr. Edward Sri

By 2012, the Augustine Institute had risen to No. 3 on the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) list of lay ecclesial ministry master’s level formation programs. Interest also is building in AI’s outreach to parishes and dioceses through partnerships with Ignatius Press and Lighthouse Catholic Media, which distribute materials for the YDisciple and Symbolon programs.

Two lungs

Dr. Edward Sri, Augustine’s vice president of mission and outreach, said AI sees itself as a think tank for the New Evangelization with two lungs: one for the graduate school, which trains those who want to work in the Church or learn more about the faith, and the other for parish programs.

An important aspect of the institute’s work with parishes, Gray said, is using technology to create programming that is effective in educating laypeople.

“Pope John Paul II said the New Evangelization must be new in method and expression. We’re really trying to do that with the technology.”

Mark Giszczak, assistant professor of Sacred Scripture, speaks with students

Mark Giszczak, assistant professor of Sacred Scripture, speaks with students

The graduate school, Sri added, largely attracts laypeople, but also some religious, priests and deacons. Graduates often go on to become Catholic school principals, religious- education directors and campus ministers.

Gray said the curriculum is designed to meet the needs of the New Evangelization by showing students how the truths of the Church fit into cultural engagement with post-modernism. “They want to know how we tell the truth of the faith so that it’s compelling for people in modern culture.”

For parishes, the institute developed YDisciple to serve the estimated 88% that have no full-time youth minister — and Symbolon as an adult evangelization program that can be used with groups, including RCIA, as well as by individuals or families.

YDisciple uses small groups and adult leaders to disciple teens in an environment where they can learn about their faith.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila

Archbishop Samuel Aquila

Gray said his 15-year-old son Joe has been in a YDisciple group for the last year. “It’s had a huge impact on him. As a parent, I’ve loved knowing every week the topics they’re discussing so I could talk with Joe about it.”

Symbolon, on the other hand, is aimed at adult Catholics, many of whom have never had a deep conversion, Sri said. The 20-part program covers everything from human sexuality to the sacraments.

“When we created this, we brought in catechetical experts from around the U.S. and Canada to help,” he said. “They encouraged us to use the beauty of tradition, the saints and the arts to engage the culture. The teaching is orthodox and it’s calling people to conversion.”

And in October, AI will launch another adult faith formation program called Lectio. Gray said such programs are important because the New Evangelization requires an engaged laity.

Building the Church

Father Scott Traynor, chaplain of Legatus’ Denver Chapter and rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, said the Augustine Institute has a passion to serve the New Evangelization in an innovative way.

“It’s exciting to see an organization that is creative and using new technology to deliver content,” he said. “It’s not just your typical nice thing. It’s really taking a look at where people are, and how the Augustine Institute can help them grow in faith and provide resources and trained people to accompany them in doing that.”

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila called AI a blessing for his archdiocese and an example of the New Evangelization at work.

Dr. Tim Gray

Dr. Tim Gray

“I have had the opportunity to know many graduates of the Augustine Institute, and I am continually impressed not only by their knowledge and understanding of Church teaching, but more importantly by their love for Christ and for his Church.”

Asked what makes the Augustine Institute different from other similar academic programs, Reyes said, “It’s mission-oriented, the mission being the New Evangelization understood as not just new techniques, but a vision of a kind of personal formation and transformation of the culture with a deep understanding of culture, what’s at stake and what the issues are in the world.”

In today’s secular culture, Gray said, Catholics will only succeed in their faith with good formation. “We’re at a point in the culture today where we have to be well formed to sustain our Catholic identity.”

At the time of the 2012 CARA study, Augustine had 288 degree candidates and 23 certificate candidates, putting it in third place behind Boston College and Franciscan University of Steubenville. Today, more than 300 students from 40 U.S. states and places as far away as Australia, Europe and Asia are enrolled on campus and through distance-learning.

Thousands more are being reached through the institute’s parish and diocesan programs. In just four months, Gray said, AI has sold more than 4,000 Symbolon DVD sets, half of them to parishes.

“When we started,” Reyes said, “we weren’t quite sure what was going to happen, but it’s a testimony to God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit that we’re doing really well.”

JUDY ROBERTS is Legatus magazine’s staff writer.

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Legatus Summit: A call to action

Speakers at the annual event asked Legatus members to bring Jesus to a hurting world . . .

Legatus’ 2014 Summit was a rally cry for Catholic business leaders to activate their faith and change the culture for Christ. Both speakers and attendees voiced concern for the way America is slipping further away from the Christian ideals it was founded on.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Orlando Chapter, drew nearly 500 Legates and guests from across the country to the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla., from Feb. 6-8.

Faithful citizenship

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum

Speakers from former Sen. Rick Santorum to Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput called on attendees to embrace the Legatus mission statement to live, learn and spread the Catholic faith. In his Feb. 7 homily, Archbishop Chaput exhorted Legates to exercise their rights of faithful citizenship to create a culture for Christ.

“When we do that, the Church will change because the leadership of the Church will be multiplied thousands upon thousands of times,” he said. “Rather than waiting for the bishops to act, you can act on your own — in union with the bishop, of course, and encouraged by him.”

In his Saturday evening address, former presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum challenged Legates to mobilize and save America before it’s too late. He pointed out that the vast majority of Americans are conservative Christians, but the liberal secularists who make up less than 20% of the population are highly organized, passionate and relentless in changing hearts and minds.

“America is broken,” he said. “We have to take responsibility for that. It was [on] our watch. America is broken because we’re afraid to fight. We must be committed, be all in. We must know what is on the line — souls, eternal souls. We don’t live in a time in America when we can afford to stop fighting.”

Archbishops Wenski, Aquila and Chaput

Archbishops Wenski, Aquila and Chaput

Santorum called on Legatus members to repair the damaged culture by activating their faith. “This organization, the people in this organization, can have a profound effect, can move the needle,” he said. “You’ve got to want it. You’ve got to be all in. You can do it. I have no doubt.”

Legates also heard from Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz, Bill Donohue from the Catholic League, author Matthew Kelly, pro-life activist John Smeaton, CEO and business author William Thorndike, Canadian author and journalist Michael Coren, fitness pioneer Dr. Kenneth Cooper, and the hosts of EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women. Motivational speaker Ross Shafer served as the master of ceremonies.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gómez celebrated the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Orlando Bishop John Noonan celebrated the closing Mass.

Call to evangelize

David Bereit

David Bereit

Other speakers urged attendees to bring their faith boldly into a culture that has rejected Christian values. Members of a three-bishop panel — Archbishop Thomas Wenski (Miami), Samuel Aquila (Denver) and Chaput (Philadelphia) — said that kind of evangelization can only happen when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Curtis Martin — a member of Legatus’ Denver Chapter and founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students — told attendees that discovering Jesus and coming into right relationship with him is akin to the parable of the buried treasure (Mt 13:44).

“To have that kind of passion — because we discovered the treasure first — that unleashes a power in the world that will transform the world,” he said. “When we allow God’s grace to transform us through our wounds and brokenness, nothing is impossible.”

Picking up on that theme, 40 Days for Life founder David Bereit assured Legates that abortion will end.

“History books are going to document how it ended,” he said. “I believe they’re going to point back to 2014, the tipping point when people realized it was a spiritual battle and the revival that broke out as a result. They’re going to read about how business people brought their best practices into the fight.”

Stephen Ray

Stephen Ray

Engaging the culture

Summit co-chair Troy King of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter said he was thrilled not only by the speakers, but by Legatus members’ determination to engage the culture as a result of the conference.

“The highlights were seeing the passion for the faith in all the speakers, seeing the new-found fire for the New Evangelization, and seeing how much emphasis they’re placing on putting us all into action,” he said. “I can’t wait to get home and put these things into action.”

Baton Rouge Legate Sam LaVergne, attending his second Summit, said the event far exceeded his expectations.

“Rick Santorum brought the house down, but the speaker that most intrigued me was Stephen Ray,” he said. “He made us think that visiting the Holy Land is something we need to do.”

Bishop John Noonan

Bishop John Noonan

LaVergne said that Legatus has been a blessing to him and his wife Sally.

“The most important thing that Legatus has done for us — even thought my wife and I have been Catholics for a long time — is the amount of education we’ve gotten to defend our faith,” he explained. “Legatus has empowered us with a lot of information to help us live our faith.”

In his Feb. 7 homily, Archbishop Chaput gave Legates all the advice they need to do just that. “Be embraced by the Lord Jesus,” he said. “Put on the Lord Jesus, as St. Paul says. Make him all of your life. When we do that, we will transform the face of the earth.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor-in-chief of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from LifeSiteNews.com.

2013 Award Winners

Defender of the Faith
Matthew Kelly, Erin Mersino

Ambassador of the Year
Larry Blanford

Officer of the Year
Scott Teepe

Courage in the Marketplace
Paul Barron, Bruce Barron, Rod & Karen Mersino

Bowie Kuhn Award for Evangelization
Curtis Martin

Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award
David Bereit, Reggie Littlejohn, Rita Marker, John Smeaton

Angott Award
Baton Rouge, Cincinnati

Campbell Award
Cleveland, Mobile, Las Vegas, Twin Cities, Wichita

A culture of giving

Denver Legates Pete and Marilyn Coors have made philanthropy a way of life . . . .


Pete and Marilyn Coors are as close to royalty as one can get in their beloved Rocky Mountain State. The storied family rose to prominence after Pete’s great-grandfather Adolph Coors founded the Coors Brewing Co. in 1873.

In addition to having a hand in running the seventh largest brewing company in the world — Molson Coors — the Colorado power-couple are known for backing conservative values, the free market and the Republican Party. Pete ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, losing by a slim margin of 47% to 51%.

Faith-focused philanthropy

What most people don’t realize, however, is that Pete and Marilyn — members of Legatus’ Denver Chapter — are serious Catholics. Marilyn is a lifelong Catholic and Pete is a convert. They give of their time and resources to a host of Catholic endeavors within the Archdiocese of Denver. But for the Coors, philanthropy is not just about writing a check.

Pete Coors

Pete Coors

“They really get involved, personally,” said Monsignor Michael Glenn, rector of St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver. “They’ve been willing to take their Catholic convictions to the public square.”

Although Pete is heavily involved in the Adolph Coors Foundation, he and Marilyn engage in their own philanthropy as a couple through a separate, private foundation.

“We have decided that the bulk of our philanthropy is going to Catholic institutions or activities with a special focus on education,” Pete told Legatus magazine.

“For secular institutions, we give to those that espouse the values of Christ and the Catholic Church,” Marilyn added.

Pete comes from a family that has made philanthropy a way of life. His great-grandfather Adolph aided victims of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake by starting a private relief fund.

“The company [Coors Brewing Co.], for as long as I can remember, has been active in the local community,” said Pete, who serves as its chairman. “It was important to us to be good citizens. The Adolph Coors Foundation, which was formed after our first IPO in 1975, was really due to the generosity of my father and one of my uncles. They turned a great part of the wealth into a foundation.”

Education and evangelization

Pete and Marilyn Coors

Pete and Marilyn Coors

While Pete spends the bulk of his time in the family business, Marilyn has developed a full-blown career as a bioethicist with a focus on genetics. She earned a doctorate in bioethics from the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine. Besides her job as an associate professor there, Marilyn has lectured locally, nationally and internationally on bioethics. She has published scores of papers and is due to publish a book on bioethics next spring. Marilyn has been a board member of the National Catholic Bioethics Center for over a decade.

Since the Coors live in one of the most dynamic archdioceses in the nation, they are involved with a host of homegrown Catholic endeavors — groups like the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, St. John Vianney Seminary, ENDOW and Regis University.

They attribute the dynamism of their archdiocese to Pope John Paul II’s 1993 World Youth Day visit. Pete was so moved by the event that he ended up converting to the Catholic faith soon thereafter.

“We are still experiencing the incredible fruits of that visit,” said Marilyn.

Pete grew up in the Episcopal Church, but his father was not religious. “None of my forebears took religion seriously — though they lived the principles of religion,” he explained.

After the couple married in 1969, Pete began to attend Mass with Marilyn. As their family grew to six children, he continued going to Mass because he thought it was important for the children’s character development. Then one day, a friend asked why he wasn’t Catholic.

“Nobody had ever asked me,” said Pete. He soon entered RCIA.

Giving back

Monsignor Michael Glenn

Monsignor Michael Glenn

Besides her work as a bioethicist, Marilyn is a board member of Denver’s St. John Vianney Seminary, founded in 1999.

“We contribute to them and their wonderful work involving our future priests,” she said. “They are doing an amazing job. Their enrollment continues to increase — and the men they are turning out are outstanding.”

Marilyn says one of her proudest accomplishments has been to help found ENDOW — Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women — with two other women in 2003. ENDOW is an international apostolate that reaches thousands of women who seek to transform the culture through their “feminine genius,” inspired by the writings of Pope John Paul II on the dignity of women.

“That has been a major focus of our philanthropy, time and prayers,” she said.

The couple has also been involved in Regis University — a Denver-based Jesuit school — for decades. Pete was chairman of the board for 15 years. After that, Marilyn was on the board for nine years.

One of the Coors’ future projects is an outreach to non-practicing Catholic millennials — men and women aged 18 to 32. “This outreach will be via social networking,” said Marilyn. “The aim is to reintroduce them and others to Christ and the Catholic Church.”

Marilyn and Pete joined Legatus in 2006. Although Pete often travels for work and cannot make all the monthly meetings, Marilyn attends most of them.

“Through Legatus, we have met a circuit of individuals who inspire us,” Pete said. “The speakers always have a message that has some relevant impact on our lives. We think it’s a valuable organization to participate in.”

Marilyn concurs. “The members and the speakers have really contributed to our spiritual lives,” she added.

A personal touch

Archbishop Samuel Aquila

Archbishop Samuel Aquila

Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila first met the Coors during World Youth Day 1993. The couple was on the organizing committee and had contributed financially to the global gathering.

“What impresses me about Pete and Marilyn Coors is their deep concern for others within our community,” said Archbishop Aquila. “As Catholics they exemplify what Christ asks us to do in caring for others and placing them before ourselves.”

He is quick to add that both Pete and Marilyn have achieved every level of success — he in the business world and she in academia. “But within that success they are truly servants of God who cherish their faith, their marriage, their family and their community,” the archbishop said. “They truly care about everyone and it shows.”

Monsignor Glenn recalled how, while studying for his doctorate in Rome, the Coors would always look him up when visiting the Eternal City with their children.

“They were personally supportive of me when my parents died,” he said. “They always call me for the holidays and invite me over at Christmas and Thanksgiving. I have brothers, so I always end up going to my family. But the Coors always call to make sure that I’m taken care of.”

Despite all their professional and charitable obligations, the Coors make sure that family comes first. Every Sunday, the couple invites all of their Denver-based children and grandchildren over for dinner.

“Family takes up a great deal of our time — joyfully,” said Marilyn.

According to Archbishop Aquila, the couple recently helped build a Habitat for Humanity home in Mexico with their grandson Peter — one of their 10 grandchildren.

“As we work on our estate-planning for the kids, one of our conditions is that 10% of revenues generated from those trusts must go to charity,” said Pete.

“Philanthropy for us as Catholic Christians is really an obligation, to the end that Christ said we should share what we have,” Marilyn said. “I think it is a privilege for us to be able to do this.”

SABRINA ARENA FERRISI is Legatus magazine’s senior staff• writer.