Augustine Institute move brings new hope for evangelization to St. Louis

3 mins read
The former Boeing Leadership Center near Florissant, Mo., seen in an undated photo, will be the new site of the Augustine Institute. Currently based in the Denver area, the institute announced April 23, 2024, that it had purchased the former Boeing center and will begin moving its headquarters to the St. Louis area in the coming months. (OSV News photo/courtesy Augustine Institute)

Before the Augustine Institute finalized its decision to move to St. Louis, Brian Miller, the director of evangelization for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, had already begun brainstorming ideas for how the archdiocese could collaborate with their potential new neighbors. Miller is excited to start finding ways to work with the Augustine Institute now that its move is a reality.

“I’m excited to surround myself with people who want to form the heart and mind of the Church, which will lead to renewal,” Miller shared with Our Sunday Visitor. “The Augustine Institute brings so much to the table with its adult faith formation, all the professors they have, and a great new curriculum for religious education that would be a great benefit for many of our parishes and schools.”

The Augustine Institute, a hybrid theology graduate school, announced that they would be moving from their headquarters in Denver to the 284-acre former Boeing training center in St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Timothy Gray, president of the Augustine Institute, told Our Sunday Visitor that the move will open new doors for the Augustine Institute to expand.

“The new center fits perfectly with the two key elements of our mission: one is to have a graduate school of theology, which can now have on-campus housing that will foster community for our students,” Gray said. “Secondly, we’re now going to be able to engage with some of our wider partners and clients and offer them retreats and conferences at the new space.”

Bringing ‘evangelical impulse’ to St. Louis

At the Augustine Institute’s Denver property, they have limited space to offer extended retreats and conferences. But the new property will offer a variety of amenities, such as housing, conference space, a chapel, and plenty of nature trails, making it an opportune location for parishes and Catholic leaders to gather.

Its location in the center of the United States made the property even more appealing. According to the Augustine Institute’s estimates, 1.7 million Catholics live within a day’s drive of the center.

“We engage with so many people and parishes online,” Gray said. “Now we’re going to be able to engage with people on campus through retreats and conferences.”

Augustine Institute leaders are also excited about the impact they could have on the local area.

“We’re looking forward to coming and working in St. Louis and helping to bring a renewed fire to the new evangelization in the area,” Gray said. “We are so excited to work with the parishes in the Catholic schools and help provide teaching, instruction and training in evangelization to those in St. Louis and other nearby dioceses.”

As for Miller, he believes that the Augustine Institute will help create a local culture focused on evangelization.

“The Augustine Institute will add a lot of evangelical impulse to the area,” Miller said. “I also think that it will create a hub, a creative network of people who are doing exciting projects and ministries centered on the new evangelization.”

Leaving a legacy in Denver

Even though the Augustine Institute is leaving Denver, the place it has called home since its founding, the organization hopes to continue supporting the city by renting out office space in its current building to other Catholic companies.

“Right now, our plan is to keep our building in Denver. We have a waiting list of various apostolates that want to be in the building and so we will be able to welcome more,” Gray said.

“The office is a beautiful ecosystem of different Catholic apostolates who are energized by the community and fellowship they share in the space together and so we want to keep that alive as a great Catholic ecosystem for businesses.”

Catholic leaders in St. Louis have seen how the Augustine Institute has helped Denver and are excited to see its effects on the city.

In the short term, Miller is excited to have Augustine Institute staff participating in local parishes. As for the long run, he is hopeful that students attending the Augustine Institute will fall in love with the archdiocese and decide to stay, becoming the next generation of leaders for the “Rome of the West.”

“The Augustine Institute is really in the business of forming leaders for the new evangelization,” Miller said. “I hope that as the Augustine Institute attracts students from all over the country and they really help to expand and grow the residential program in their new facility, some of those people are going to end up settling in St. Louis and becoming our future Catholic school principals, directors of religious education, parish leaders and really help to lead our Church.”

Jack Figge

Jack Figge has written for multiple diocesan papers, including covering World Youth Day 2023 for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas. In addition to his local coverage, he has written for the National Catholic Register, FOCUS and Catholic Vote.