Interview with Matt Coughlin

Patrick Murphy: Hello, everyone. This is Patrick Murphy with the Augustinians. Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Matt Coughlin. Matt is an Augustinian Affiliate from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and he's also the managing partner of International Insurance Brokers. Matt, it's a pleasure to have you with us today.

Matt Coughlin: Thank you, Patrick. I'm glad to be here.

Murphy: The first question that I would like to ask is, how did you first come to know the Augustinians.

Coughlin: Back in 1994, we moved to the Midtown area of Tulsa, and I began attending the daily Mass at St. Rita Chapel at Cascia Hall. I got hooked pretty quickly going there, instead of my local parish, because of the beautiful simplicity of the chapel itself, but, even more importantly, the inspiring homilies delivered by the Augustinians. As time went on, I got to know the priests, Father Spielmann, Father Gaffney, Father Tack, Father Hamill.

One morning, Father Hamill invited me to breakfast after Mass, where I met and soon became a member of what we called "The Breakfast Bunch." They're a group of 11 of us, and these ten men have become my closest friends. We go to Mass and have breakfast together every morning.

Murphy: Very nice.

Coughlin: Yes, it really is. Then, as time went on, in the fall of '95, my oldest daughter, Caroline, was accepted as a freshman to Cascia Hall. My wife was, at the time the president of the PTO at Monte Cassino. Since that was the case, I volunteered to bring Caroline to her first day of school, and got involved in signing up for the various events that needed volunteers, much to the surprise of the moms that were there. I think I was probably the only man that had ever showed up to sign up for that. That was the beginning of many, many good times at Celebrate Cascia and the Cascia Christmas Walk, over the years.

As time went on from there, I wound up being asked to serve on the board, and later as chairman. One of the high points of my life was in June of 2006. As you pointed out, I was brought into the Order as an Affiliate, and that was very, very special to me. I'm currently serving as a member of the Augustinian Advancement Council for the Midwest Province.

Murphy: It's a lot of great work you're doing for the Order, as a board member in the past for Cascia. For those that might not understand, an Augustinian Affiliate is the highest honor that we can bestow upon a layperson. You are, literally, a member of the Order. It's great to have you as part of the family. I know that we can spoke...  I know that we spoke a little bit already about the Augustinians that have impacted your life. Before, you mentioned Father Tack, Father Gaffney, Father Spielmann. Are there any other Augustinians that have impacted your life?

Coughlin: Well, as I mentioned earlier, Father Hamill with the Breakfast Bunch. I have breakfast with these 10 men, and they've become like brothers. I can't imagine what my life would be without them anymore. We share so much of each other's lives and solve the problems of the world every morning. It's been a really great thing.

Murphy: Sure.

Coughlin: Then, of course, I have to mention Father Bernie Scianna. Father Bernie has become a member of our family, really, and I feel like Peggy and I are members of his. We've spent so many great times together with him and his mom, Jean, and dad, Mike, and his real brothers and their wives. Our relationship even extends to his aunts and his uncles, his cousins. It's really fantastic. Basically, our 2 families have merged. I like to tell the story of Mike Scianna taught me how to fish. I was in my 50s by then, but it was really great. His Aunt Rose sends down cookies every once in a while.

Murphy: Oh, yeah?

Coughlin: It's really great. Of course, Father's officiated at the marriage of 2 of my daughters, and has graciously agreed to do so again with my oldest daughter, and last daughter, Caroline, next year.

Murphy: Oh, that's wonderful, congratulations.

Coughlin: Thank you, thank you.

Murphy: You had a wide realm of experience with the Augustinians at Cascia, as well as being part of the community, merging families. In your perspective, what would you say the role is of the Augustinian Order today? Are the Augustinians still relevant?

Coughlin: Well, Patrick, yes, I believe the Augustinians are very relevant. Education is central to the Augustinian mission, and the Augustinians are educating a whole new generation of Catholic men and women, and filling their charism by creating lasting bonds of friendship and spirituality. They also bring the word of God through their parish work in the communities they've established. I just can't imagine what Tulsa would be without the Augustinian presence, and if Cascia Hall ceased to exist.

Murphy: Wow. I've heard that from a number of people, especially from people from Tulsa, saying that the face of the city has been changed forever because of the Augustinians.

Coughlin: Exactly.

Murphy: I know that you're also helping, in addition to being an Advancement Council member, you are participating in the Continuing Our Journey of Faith capital campaign. The campaign helps to raise funds for the Father Ray Ryan Trust for Vocations and for the Journey of a Lifetime Trust for the retirement needs of the Augustinians. Why are you helping the campaign?

Coughlin: Well, as you can tell by now, the Augustinians have had a profound impact on my life and my family's life. My daughters received a great education at Cascia Hall, not only in terms of academics, but, more importantly, in terms of how to live a Christ-centered life. There's really no way to express the gratitude I feel for the Augustinian presence in our lives. I think it's important for everyone to understand that these men, the Augustinians, don't stop working until they're forced to because of health reasons. Father Follman is a great example here in Tulsa. He's still working full time as a guidance counselor at Cascia, and he celebrated his 81st birthday last week [on October 20]. I think the least we can do is assist the Order to take care of these men that have served us so faithfully and are now reliant on our support.

The second part of it, second reason for the campaign, is training new men in formation to become Augustinians. How can we not support continuing this Order into the future so that our grandchildren and children can have the same wonderful experiences that we've enjoyed? You know, Patrick, that we've been blessed with the presence of 2 new Augustinians here in Tulsa, Father Brian Barker and Brother Steven Isley. They've re-energized the Augustinian community here in Tulsa, and it's a real joy to see. I feel we have an obligation to help educate these men and prepare them to continue in the traditions of St. Augustine.

Murphy: Surely, surely. I've seen some great pictures and heard great stories from people saying Father Brian Barker, Brother Steven Isley, they really are whipping up the place, I guess you can say. There's a whole new spirit over there, is what I hear.

Coughlin: It's really terrific. It's great to see.

Murphy: We talked about why you contribute to the campaign, of why you are helping the Augustinians. This might seem a little bit redundant, but if you can encapsulate why others should go the extra mile to make a special gift to the capital campaign, what would that be?

Coughlin: Well, I guess simply stated, a debt of gratitude and a dollop of hope. Anyone who's had the blessing of Augustinians in their life, we want to help care for the elderly and the infirm members of the Order, many of whom we've come to know and have loved over the years... how can we not take care of them now, when they're so reliant on us? The other part, as I've pointed out, is, how can we not want to help our future generations enjoy these same great experiences and gifts that we've enjoyed?

I've also been involved in the diocese, going around explaining about tithing and sacrificial giving, the concept that God cannot be outdone in His generosity. I've experienced it personally in my life. As I said, I've lectured around the diocese, and I've explained that the tithe, the 10% gift of your income, can be 5% to your parish and 5% to other church-related charities. I don't think it's asking too much for people to dedicate 2% of their family's income over the next 5 years to ensure the continued good health and well-being of an Order that has done so much for each of us.

Murphy: That's a great perspective. I haven't really thought of it like that before, as far as contributing to... tithing like that. That's a great perspective. I also like what you said, the concept of God will not be outdone in His generosity. That's something to part with, I think.

Coughlin: Well, thank you.

Murphy: Well, thank you again for your time. If anybody listening has more questions, please feel free to contact Michael Gerrity, the campaign director, at 773-595-4035, and there's plenty more information here at this website, www.augustiniancampaign.org.

Thank you once again, Matt. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Coughlin: Thank you, Patrick. Great to talk to you as well.

 

Posted on November 14, 2014 and filed under Matt Coughlin.