Under the patronage of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the mission of the Avila Institute is to provide spiritual education and formation to Catholics around the world who are seeking to deepen their understanding and appropriation of the magisterium faithful mystical and ascetical patrimony of the Catholic Church.
Whom do we serve?
- Priests and Religious: Those that provide formation to members of their congregations, their orders, and their diocese.
- Laity: Those involved in the formation of others as Spiritual Directors or Mentors, DREs, Catechists, RCIA Instructors, Baptismal Class Instructors, Parents that home school, Pre Cana Instructors.
- Professionals: Catholic Counselors, Therapists, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Chaplains.
- Individuals: All those seeking to deepen their relationship with Christ through the spiritual patrimony of the Church.
- Faithful Poor: The faithful poor around the world often lack the means to deepen their own faith and to aid in the formation of others. The faithful poor are made up of priests, deacons, and religious who have taken a vow of poverty, or laypeople who simply do not have the means to access the level of education and formation we provide without assistance.
How will we serve them?
- Mystagogically Oriented Education Focused on the Pursuit of a Transformational Relationship with God
- Live/Interactive/Online – Location Independent Spiritual Education
- 2-4 year Masters Level Spiritual Theology Program
- Continuing Education Courses
- Personal Enrichment Courses
Dan Burke: President and Founder
Dan Burke is the President and Founder of the Avila Foundation, Executive Director of EWTN’s National Catholic Register, co-Host of Register Radio, an international speaker, author of the award winning book Navigating the Interior Life – Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, frequent radio and television guest, retreat master, and founder of the award winning site dedicated to authentic Catholic spirituality, Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction. Dan lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife and children.
Dr. Anthony Lilles: Co-Founder and Fellow
Anthony Lilles, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, completed his graduate and post-graduate studies in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas. He and his lovely wife, Agnes, are blessed with three children and live in Colorado where Dr. Lilles has worked for the Archdiocese of Denver for over twenty years directing parish religious education, R.C.I.A. and youth ministry as well as serving as the director of the Office of Liturgy for the Archdiocese and as coordinator of spiritual formation for the permanent diaconate. In 1999, he became a founding faculty member of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary where he was eventually appointed Academic Dean for nine years. Currently, he is an associate professor of theology and a Board Member for the Society of Catholic Liturgy. Dr. Lilles has provided graduate level courses on a variety of topics including the Eucharist, the Sacraments of Healing, Church History, Spiritual Theology, Spiritual Direction and on various classics of Catholic Spirituality. His expertise is in the spiritual doctrine of Blessed Elisabeth of the Trinity and the Carmelite Doctors of the Church: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux. In 2012, Discerning Hearts published his book Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden: A Theological Contemplation on Prayer, a compilation of discussions with seminarians, students and contemplatives about the spiritual life.
Most Rev. Bishop Robert J. Baker: Episcopal Oversight and Advisory Board
Most Rev. Bishop Robert J. Baker was born in Willard, Ohio, on June 4, 1944. He attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and was ordained a priest on March 21, 1970, for the Diocese of St. Augustine. From 1970-72 he served as assistant pastor at St. Paul’s Parish, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, and also taught at Bishop Kenny High School. From 1972-75 he was assigned to study at the Gregorian University in Rome, where he received S.T.L. and S.T.D. degrees in dogmatic theology.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, D.D.: Advisory Board
Joseph Naumann was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to Fred and Louise Naumann. He graduated from St. Louis Preparatory Seminary South in 1967 and from Cardinal Glennon College in 1971. After acting as a transitional deacon in Florissant and completing his theological studies at Kenrick Seminary in 1975, Naumann was ordained to the priesthood on May 24 of that same year, for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
He then served as an associate pastor of St. Dominic Savio Parish in Affton until 1979, and of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in St. Louis until 1984. From 1984 to 1989, Naumann was a part-time associate pastor at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in St. Louis, whilst working as Coordinator of the Pro-Life Committee as well until 1995. He was later pastor of Ascension Parish in Normandy (1989-1994) and vicar general of the archdiocese (1994-2003).
On July 8, 1997, Naumann was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of St. Louis and Titular Bishop of Caput Cilla byPope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 3 from Archbishop Justin Rigali, with Bishops Edward O’Donnell and Edward Braxton serving as co-consecrators.
Naumann, after becoming Apostolic Administrator of St. Louis in October 2003, was named Coadjutor Archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas on January 7, 2004, serving under Archbishop James Keleher. He later succeeded Keleher as Archbishop of Kansas City upon the latter’s resignation on January 15, 2005.
The Archbishop sits on the Committees on Pro-Life and on Marriage and Family Life within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as Kenrick-Glennon Seminary Board of Trustees. He is also Chairman of the Kansas Catholic Conference.
Sister Susan Pieper: Advisory Board
Sr. Susan is the first member of the community of the Apostles of the Interior Life (www.apostlesofil.org). She studied at College of Notre Dame in Belmont, CA where she received a B.A. in Theology. She then moved to Rome to study at the Pontifical University of the Angelicum. There she got her B.A. in Philosophy, a B.A. in Theology and then a STL in Moral Theology. Sr. Susan is now serving on staff as a Spiritual Director to students and staff.
Dr. George Harne, President of St. Mary Magdalen College: Advisory Board
Dr. Harne earned his Ph. D. from Princeton University, a M.A. from Princeton University, a M.A. from St. John’s College, a M.A. from the University of Washington and his B.M.E from the University of Southern Mississippi.
Commitment to the Magisterium
Based on our conviction that theology is an ongoing conversation among believers that attends to the sacred doctrine of the Church, the Avila Institute in its instruction and content will always seek full accountability and submission to the magisterium of the Catholic Church. We do this not primarily as a duty, but as a joyful embrace recognizing the Blessed Trinity is alive and actively working through the Church as the primary means of redemption and vivification of Body of Christ and the world. We recognize that in the Catholic Church we find the fullness of truth and greatest depth and breadth of wisdom available to the world on the topic of how human persons can know, love, and serve God and His creation.
Mystagogy and Pedagogy
In the ancient Church, mystagogy referred to catechetical instruction provided after baptism. This instruction sought to engage in a disciplined theological conversation by which the baptized might deepen their encounter with the abiding presence of the Lord. At the Avila Institute, we strive not only to convey vital connections in the content of our faith by which we can provide reasons for our hope (pedagogy aimed at a theological wisdom), but we also aim for a kind of discussion that avails students to the transformational presence of Christ by which our minds are renewed (mystagogy aimed at spiritual wisdom). We do this throughout our course work and other activities by building a community that attends to one another in holy conversation about the great truths elucidated by Fathers, Doctors, Saints and Mystics, and all this to encourage the practice of contemplative prayer and a deeper understanding of how God is working in the pastoral challenges of the world today.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae
The Avila Institute is completely and energetically committed to the guidelines, directives, and wisdom set forth in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The following outlines the central commitments we embrace as enumerated under the heading “The Nature of a Catholic University.”
- “A Catholic University, like every university, is a community of scholars representing various branches of human knowledge. It is dedicated to research, to teaching, and to various kinds of service in accordance with its cultural mission.”
- “A Catholic University, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research, teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes. It is linked with the Church either by a formal, constitutive and statutory bond or by reason of an institutional commitment made by those responsible for it.”
- “Every Catholic University is to make known its Catholic identity, either in a mission statement or in some other appropriate public document, unless authorized otherwise by the competent ecclesiastical Authority. The University, particularly through its structure and its regulations, is to provide means which will guarantee the expression and the preservation of this identity in a manner consistent with §2.”
- “Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected (46). Any official action or commitment of the University is to be in accord with its Catholic identity.”
- “A Catholic University possesses the autonomy necessary to develop its distinctive identity and pursue its proper mission. Freedom in research and teaching is recognized and respected according to the principles and methods of each individual discipline, so long as the rights of the individual and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good (47).”
AffiliationsThough we embrace and support all magisterium faithful and approved institutions of the Church, we are not not formally affiliated with, owned by, or in any way subject to any specific religious order, organization, movement, or institution.