Way of Life Center opens

Stephen Iatesta

In an effort to bring about a greater awareness and understanding of the Augustinian community, Villanova has opened the Augustinian Way of Life Center. The Center is located behind the St. Thomas of Villanova Church and holds the offices of Friars Jim McBurney and Mark Garrett.

Garrett is the director of the Augustinian Friends, while McBurney is the vocation director for the Augustinians. This is the first time in over 20 years that the vocation office has been on campus.

The Way of Life Center is the result of the vision of Fr. Donald Reilly, the present Provincial for the province of St. Thomas of Villanova. The Center is meant to be a resource for students, faculty and staff who want to learn about Augustinian spirituality and the life and work of the Augustinians.

“We are proud of our heritage as Augustinians,” McBurney said. “Discerning one’s vocation in life, whatever it may be, is about growing in self-knowledge. For St. Augustine, coming to know himself was so important.”

Fr. McBurney has been an Augustinian for almost 30 years. As a certified spiritual director, he hopes to eventually offer information sessions about the Augustinian way of life in the fall. Topics would include discernment, vocation stories of some Augustinians, community life and the process for becoming an Augustinian.

“God continues to call people to religious life and the priesthood,” McBurney explained. “If there are students who may be wondering about this possibility for them, we want them to know that there is a place through which they can look more closely at this desire.”

Through the Way of Life Center and its offices for Spirituality and for Vocation, McBurney and Garrett plan to further reach out to students and the surrounding community and share the Augustinian message.

“People have told us that they find something valuable in the spirituality of Augustinians,” Garrett said. “The way we approach things seems good to them. Those people- the people of our parishes, schools and colleges-have helped us realize that we have something so valuable.”

Even though all of the members of the Augustinian Order that sponsors Villanova are Catholic, there are Christians of non-Catholic churches who follow the Augustinian tradition. Garrett attributes the universal appeal of Augustine to the fact that he wrote and spoke with insight into human life and the human heart.

While Garrett, McBurney and other members of the Order of St. Augustine have played major roles in spreading the Augustinian message across campus, numerous individuals and organizations have worked to make Augustine available to the entire Villanova community, including the Augustinian Heritage Center, the University’s Office of Mission Effectiveness and Campus Ministry. Additionally, Villanova offers various seminars and graduate programs devoted to the study of St. Augustine and his mission.

For further information about the Augustinian Way of Life Center, visit the website www.augustinian.org or contact Fr. Jim McBurney (vocations@ augustinian.org) or Fr. Mark Garrett ([email protected]).