Episode 9: How to Start an Institutional Apostolate, Part 1—Jeff Mirus
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This episode is for anyone who believes he is called to found a Catholic apostolate, or anyone who is overseeing one already. You may know Jeff Mirus as the founder of CatholicCulture.org, but he has launched several other successful Catholic institutions as well.
In this first part of a two-part interview he discusses how, as a young man witnessing a grave crisis in the Church, he set out to become a Catholic apologist. In the first few years of his career, he founded the interdisciplinary academic journal Faith & Reason and co-founded Christendom College. These experiences taught him valuable lessons about the situational, practical and personal problems of running an institutional Catholic apostolate.
Part 2 of the Jeff Mirus interview https://www.catholicculture.org/podcast/index.cfm?id=10
Sigrid Undset, Catherine of Siena https://amzn.to/2uauGE3
St. Augustine, Confessions https://amzn.to/2u3pIc6
Faith & Reason Archives https://media.christendom.edu/faith-reason/
Christendom College https://www.christendom.edu/
Jeff Mirus Interview
02:46 Jeff’s Catholic upbringing, early sense of calling to apologetics
7:32 College and first experiences engaging with and debating secular culture
10:38 The crisis in the Church, realization that a prescriptive approach to the faith will eventually fail without prayer and interior life
14:11 Desire to attain academic credentials in order not to be silenced by the cult of expertise
17:18 Funny encounters with the 60s revolution at Rutgers
24:11 Studying history at Princeton; professor who wanted to explain away medieval mysticism
28:32 Formative reading during grad school: Sigrid Undset’s Catherine of Siena, St. Augustine’s Confessions, Christopher Dawson, Dominican defenders of the papacy
31:59 The beginnings of lay apostolates in the late 60s and early 70s as clergy became increasingly unfaithful
36:58 Jeff founds academic journal Faith & Reason in 1975
38:57 Situational problem in the Church and practical problem of funding an academic journal
43:33 The importance of keeping faith with your audience
46:04 First encounter with Warren H. Carroll, leading to the founding of Christendom College in 1977; the state of Catholic colleges in the U.S. in the mid-70s
52:33 Practical problem: Making sure the Catholic mission is not compromised based on who exercises control of the corporate entity (in this case, dealing with the problem of an independent college board)
58:51 Dealing with disagreements between good people with dogmatic personalities
1:02:22 Early discussions at Christendom about student life and what the campus culture should look like
1:08:00 Jeff’s responsibilities at Christendom 1977-83: member of both boards, Director of Academic Affairs, teaching apologetics, history, and various other subjects at short notice when another professor was missing, editing Faith & Reason, running Christendom Press, building up mailing list
1:11:23 Financial crisis at Christendom which required Jeff to be a full-time fundraiser for two years and precipitated a personal crisis
1:13:57 Personal problem: reliance on Holy Spirit rather than seeing oneself as a Catholic “machine” that can be put into higher gear at will
1:16:20 Beginning family Rosary as a way of putting family first and increasing discernment
1:22:47 Departure from Christendom College; decision to found a publisher called Trinity Communications
1:26:34 This week’s excerpt: Noam Chomsky
Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.
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