Dan Burke has committed his life to the advancement of faithful Catholic spirituality and to solid journalism that serves the Church. He is this year’s featured speaker at Legatus’ October 11-14 Men’s Enclave at Cabin Bluff in Woodbine, GA, and will discuss “The Battle of Divine Ascent: Helping men and leaders to engage in spiritual growth and leadership.”
Burke, a former Southern Baptist and Anglican before he entered the Catholic Church, is the executive director of EWTN’s National Catholic Register. He is also the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and the host of EWTN’s “Divine Intimacy” Radio show. As a sought-after retreat speaker, he’s likewise an award- winning author and editor of more than 10 books on Catholic spirituality. He recently spoke with Legatus Magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.
How did you get into Catholic journalism?
I was the executive director of strategy development for Focus on the Family before I took the role at the Register. I became Catholic in 2005 and I really wanted to figure out a way to lend my skills to the Church. Because of challenges with the Legionaries of Christ, who owned the Register at the time, they were potentially going to close the Register. They asked if I could come aboard full time and see if we could turn it around.
How did you and your team save the Register?
We poured all our energy into keeping the Register alive, and God blessed the work. We eliminated all the internal debt. In 2011, EWTN acquired the National Catholic Register, and it’s grown 90 percent since then in print subscriptions. I implemented a digital strategy right after I came on board, and that’s been off-the- chart successful in terms of reach and impact.
How do you prepare for your role as a retreat speaker?
Depending on the audience and their particular needs, I spend a good deal of time in prayer, and usually from there, I spend time reflecting on the wisdom of the Carmelite saints primarily related to the topic, and then put it all together. Scripture of course is very central. The Lord blessed me by bringing me into the Church through the Southern Baptists, so my grounding in Scripture is pretty strong.
How did your time as a Protestant prepare you to enter the Catholic Church?
The Baptists brought me to the messiah of the Jews — I’m Jewish by birth — and they also gave me a trust in and a love for the Scriptures. During my time as an Anglican, I came to love and appreciate the liturgy and ecclesiology of the Church. I shifted from a purely extemporaneous kind of prayer to learning to pray liturgically, which of course was a great preparation for becoming Catholic and praying the Liturgy of the Hours with the Church Universal.
What is the mission of the Avila Institute?
Simply, it’s to enable the New Evangelization by drawing Catholics worldwide into deeper union with Christ and His Church. The way we do that is by providing graduate and personal enrichment studies in the realm of spiritual theology, which is concerned with the nature of the supernatural life and how it is that we grow from the beginnings of a spiritual life to our fullness of union with God.
How do you find the time to balance all your responsibilities?
The beginning is prayer. I recently met with a holy bishop whom I knew spent an hour in adoration a day in addition to his obligations. I asked him, “How is it with all you’re responsible for that you have time to spend so much time in prayer?” He said, “How is it that with all I’m responsible for, that I wouldn’t spend that time in prayer?”
Do you find time to enjoy any hobbies?
I don’t know if I honesty have a hobby, but I have a vocation. I have a calling to serve the Body of Christ through journalism and through mystical theology, and that to me is a never ending well of refreshment, of revitalization, of encouragement. The work of God in the hearts of His people is the hope of the Church, and participating in fostering that hope, faith and love in God’s people is really all I need. I think that when I die, then I’ll rest.