Interview with Bro. Tom Taylor, O.S.A.

Patrick Murphy: Hello everybody, this is Patrick Murphy with the Midwest Augustinians.  Today, I am speaking with Brother Tom Taylor.  Brother Tom Taylor is the Province Secretary of the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel right now.  Brother Tom, it's great to have you with us.

Brother Tom Taylor, O.S.A.: Well, good morning, Patrick.

Murphy: Good morning.  I'd like to ask many of our friars with these interviews, what was it that called you to be an Augustinian?

Taylor: Well, I would say first of all, I would say it was the Holy Spirit that called me, but the thing that attracted me was observing the way that the friars at Austin Catholic High School in Detroit, Michigan, where I was enrolled as a student, lived community life.  Just the concept of community life is what really appealed to me.  When Don Brennan, now deceased who was a wonderful teacher, asked me if I ever thought that I might want to become an Augustinian, I told him no, but he put the thought in my head and it bore fruits.

Murphy: Okay, okay.  Over these past few years I know that you served in many ministries.  In education, in Province administration, across our Province.  Here you are today in Chicago.  When you initially came to us from Detroit.  In your experience, what would you say the role is of the Augustinian Order today, and how are the Augustinians still relevant in today's society?

Taylor: Well, as the rule of St. Augustine says, the main purpose of Augustinians coming together is to live together in harmony as a community and be of one mind and one heart on the way to God.  That's relevant at all times.  As Augustinians, I think people have said to me that there's a special way or a special quality that Augustinians have in their ministries.  I like to say that that is the fruit of living together in harmony in our house and being of one mind and one heart on the way to God.  That that aspect of our lives that we share with other people and people see something special.  They see something different about that.  That is extremely relevant, especially in today's mentality where there's so much individualism and all that.

The idea of community and seeking the common good is a particular thing that we need in our society today.  I think Augustinians in a special way promote that outlook.

Murphy: I've had many people say pretty much exactly what you just said, that there's something unique and there's something best derived from that community life with the Augustinians.  Whether, if it's serving in a parish or school, or a mission, or what have you.  Is there any way?  This might be a challenge, but is there any way that you can articulate what that uniqueness is?

Taylor: In some ways it's intangible, but I think again the concept of not just individualism, but the commonality, the idea that we're in this together is, I think that's part of it, anyway.

Murphy: Would you say that role of community--it is very important to the Augustinians as professed members, but would you say that's inclusive as well of non-professed laity? 

Taylor: I hope it is.  I hope that that kind of outlook and that kind of fundamental basis of thought carries over in the way we minister and the way people receive our ministries. 

Murphy: All right, I would say that listening to some of the other interviews, which I know you haven't had the chance to yet, I think you'll really see that.  A lot of people really consider themselves part of that Augustinian family.  I think it's because that devotion, that dedication to community really carries over.  It's intrinsic of just everything that carries about what the Augustinians are. 

Taylor: Okay, well praise God for that; because, that's God's work there. 

Murphy: Great, great.  As you know we have a capital campaign going on right now called Continuing our Journey of Faith.  That campaign hopes to build two trusts, the Father Ray Ryan Trust for men in formation and vocations, as well as the Journey of a Lifetime Trust for the retired and infirm friars.  In your view why do you think that this campaign in particular is important at this time?

Taylor: Well, I think the campaign is important at this time; because, it's something that will ensure that whatever gifts we've been able to share with the wide circle of people to whom we minister, will continue.  People that have received those gifts, it's a way for them to say, thank you.  It's also a way for them to ensue that those gifts will not be lost to the Church and lost to the people of that in the future.

Murphy: If I can ask, I know that you've... while he was alive you knew Father Ray Ryan.

Taylor: Oh yes.

Murphy: I know that he was Provincial three times.  He served as you have on the Province Council for many, many years.  Since you have that insider perspective I guess you could say, do you think it's appropriate that the Ray Ryan Trust be named that, specifically for vocations?

Taylor: Well, I think so; because, he was involved in formation ministry himself for quite a while.  I know that friars, and I imagine people that are not friars too, looked to him for mentoring and advice and counsel.  I think it's particularly appropriate that the Ray Ryan Trust be there for men in formation and for promotion of vocations.  Yes, I do. 

Murphy: Great, since we're talking about vocations, I know that you said that what initially called you to be an Augustinian was indeed the Holy Spirit, but as far as the people right now that might be listening that are still discerning what it is that they want to do with their life, if they are to discern a religious vocation.  Do you have any advice for them?

Taylor: Well, I guess my advice would be listen to the Holy Spirit and follow what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do.  If you develop a listening heart, listening to what the Spirit says, you can't go wrong.  It was kind of interesting, Saturday at the memorial Mass for David Brecht, there were a number of our former friars, people that had been in formation, but had discerned that this was not their call.  To me it was kind of interesting to chat with them and to listen to how they had absorbed some of the Augustinian values in their lives that lead them away from the Augustinians, but I think they were listening to the Holy Spirit when they made that decision.

They made good decisions and while I'm sorry that they didn't stay with us, I think that was the right thing that they did.

Murphy: That kind of goes back to what we were speaking about before, about people that necessarily aren't professed with the Augustinians, they still feel very much a part of the Augustinian family in a lot of ways. 

Taylor: That's good.

Murphy: Yeah, yeah.  The last question I have here, we talked about it a little bit, but if you can offer your input, why do you think others should go the extra mile to make a special gift to the capital campaign?

Taylor: Well, I guess as I said before, if someone has received benefits from ministry of the Augustinians, it's a wonderful way to say thank you; because, right now we are in need of some financial assistance to ensure that for the future that we will be able to continue to be a channel of those same kind of gifts that people have already received.  It's a way of saying thanks.  It's also a way of ensuring that we will be around and be available in order to share whatever gifts we have with people in future generations.

Murphy: All right, wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview.  I'm hopeful that many people are tuning in and listening right now.  If any of the listeners want more information on the campaign, you can find it here at or you can contact the Campaign Director Michael Gerrity at 773-595-4035.  Brother Tom, it's wonderful once again to talk to you.

Taylor: Well, thank you Patrick.  It's nice to talk to you too. 

Murphy: Okay, take care.

Taylor: Okay, you have a blessed day.

Posted on December 4, 2014 and filed under Tom Taylor O.S.A..