Interview with Bishop Dan Turley

Patrick Murphy: Hi, Bishop Dan?

Bishop Dan Turley, O.S.A.: How are you?

Murphy: I’m fine, how are you doing?

Turley: I’m okay. I’m here in my office all set to talk to you and to have the interview. I’m grateful that you even want to listen to my straggly voice.

Murphy: Thank you again for taking the time out. I know that you've got a hectic schedule so it really means a lot to us.

Turley: Yeah.

Murphy: For our listeners this is Bishop Dan Turley. Bishop Dan Turley is our Augustinian who is serving as the bishop of Chulucanas in Peru. The Augustinians have been serving in the Diocese of Chulucanas for over 50 years now. Bishop Dan it’s a pleasure to have you with us.

Turley: Yes, it’s a pleasure to be with you and in this interview. It’s a wonderful moment for our Province of our Mother of Good Counsel. There’s so many good things that God has blessed us in so many ways and were a wonderful moment. There’s many things to talk about in this interview I’m very happy to be with you.

Murphy: Thank you. The first thing that I like to ask the Augustinians is what was it that called you to be an Augustinian?

Turley: I’m one of these very traditional vocations and classic vocations and since I was a little boy when I was just in first grade I was very interested in becoming a priest since a little boy. Then there was an altar server since the second grade and I always felt called to be like the priest that was celebrating the Mass. My vocation actually began in grammar school and I never lost that. Then of course it became very Augustinian because I became a student at Gregor Mendel Catholic High School in Chicago and it was an Augustinian school. I was very called to become an Augustinian.

Another part of that was my brother was older then I was, he was two years older but one year ahead of me in class. He also became an Augustinian. There was a strong Augustinian connection through my brother but also my teachers were Augustinians and I had some wonderful teachers who were just a great example to me. For example one of my great teachers was Father Jack Gavin who just passed away this year. He was [an] unbelievably joyful Augustinian filled with energy, all interested in sports.   He was the athletic director of the school. That year, the second year that I had him as a teacher the Mendel Catholic School won the Chicago football championship. It was a great year for the school and a lot of enthusiasm. All of that was a part of this joyful Augustinian and other Augustinians who taught me. It’s a good part of my vocation and then when I was in my last years I was very interested in becoming a missionary. I was very called to very a number… We had the visit of the Maryknoll missionaries came to our Mendel high school and gave a talk to the students and especially in the fourth year of the school. They talked about missions and I can still remember that.

That has had an impact on me. I had a great interest in becoming part of the Augustinian Order--that Province of the Augustinian… I was very interested in mission… Mysterious part of that at that time we didn’t really have missions yet but we began to send persons to Japan. I had as my professor Father Al Burke. There was another little connection there that God gave me as my teacher Father Al Burke who then went on to go to Japan. He was one of our missionaries sent to Japan.

The mission was in charge of the Villanova Province but we also were helping Villanova Province in this Japanese mission. One of our Augustinians from the Chicago province was Father Al Burke and he taught me in school. There was another connection that was touching me and I’m very grateful to God for all of these beautiful connections.

Murphy: That’s wonderful. I never knew myself that Father Al Burke taught you. I’ve spoke with him a little bit on email but I know he’s still serving in Japan. Our prayers are with him and doing some of these interviews with other people from around the Province, Father Jack Gavin’s name comes up a lot. You’re definitely not alone as far as the people that he’s influenced in his lifetime when he was still with us.

Turley: A very interesting thing I have to mention this is that another Augustinian who always talked about missions and promoted missions in the classroom was Father Dan Hartigan. Father Dan Hartigan taught me and he was at Mendel and of course I think he’s the oldest member of the Province of his time or one of the oldest. He was always a joyful Augustinian, also always promoting the missions and interest in the missions. I never forget that--he always took great interest in the missions and was also joyful Augustinian. There were many others too but then I want to mention another special Augustinian.

When I was in my fourth year at Mendel High School we had one of our important classes was religion. At that time we still call it religion. I think now they call it theology class but the my professor was Father--who is now Bishop--John McNabb. Father John McNabb at the time, he was the Assistant Principal of Mendel High School and it was great. I had one of my classmates in the religion was Father Tim Cuny. He is also one of our great Augustinians Tim Cuny but we had us a teacher, a very great Augustinian who is Bishop John McNabb.

These are all beautiful, wonderful connections and you just thank God in my case for all of these wonderful people that I was able to be in touch with and receive from them a lot of inspiration. I just thank God that I had as a professor, as a teacher, Father John McNabb.

Murphy: You also have a unique perspective because you’re serving in the missions, you’re a bishop, you've been serving in the Augustinian missions for a number of years. You went to an Augustinian high school. I know you've visited many of the parishes. In your perspective, what would you say the role is of the Augustinian Order today? Do you think that the Augustinians are still relevant in today’s society?

Turley: Yes, I would say we’re more relevant than ever and if there was ever a need for Augustinians the need is right now. This is a moment like in Peru and our world where there’s so much, you could call it individualism. A lot of… Everything seems to be… We’re in a moment of great change. Changes throughout the world, changes of every type of change, technological changes, advances and great world strife at this time, great challenges where we see the whole problem of trying to be in communication with the Islamic peoples.

We’re in this great tension in the Middle East right now and also in the Ukraine and also in Africa, great tension in the world, a lot of violence in the world. Our world is like being torn apart. If there ever was a need for peace and for being dialogue… Promoting dialogue and looking for peaceful solutions to problems to bring peoples together to form a world community. Certainly this is a time of globalization but globalization has not produced world communion. We’re at a globalization is very present throughout the world but we’re becoming a divisive world. More than ever are Augustinian spirit of one heart, one soul, one spirit in Christ to bring everything together in Christ.

This is a moment that this Augustinian community spirit is needed in the United States, in Peru, throughout the world. I think we have a tremendous message of respect for human dignity, for looking for dialogue, for promoting world peace, for promoting communion of peoples wherever we are. That’s what we are all about as an Augustinian family because our whole spirit is that Augustinian heart in playing with love, as Holy Father St. Augustine, the doctor of love. I would say our community spirit is needed now more than ever perhaps in the history of the world.

Our world is at a very critical moment and it needs the community spirit, the spirit of love that is so much at the heart of the Augustinian Order. I would say yes, we are a community that’s alive and there’s a great need for Augustinians. What a great call that God is giving us at this moment.

Murphy: I definitely hear that time and time again. It’s not a question if they’re still relevant, I hear everybody say now more than ever is when it’s needed. It’s almost like we’re at a watershed moment and we’re faced with a challenge and who’s going to step up to the challenge? It’s great to hear you say that. Right now I want to get into the Continuing Our Journey of Faith campaign. That campaign as you know is hoping to build the trust for vocations and the retirement fund. That’s the Father Ray Ryan trust and the Journey of a Lifetime. Why do you think that this campaign is particularly important at this time of the Augustinians?

Turley: Yes, that is so important. First of all I think it’s important that people know us. I’m afraid that many times we've been... I think Augustinian spirit is a spirit of humility. That runs through all of St Augustine’s writings. He always talks about the importance of humility. I would say as an Augustinian Order we do live our best Augustinian humility and we don’t talk about ourselves. We don’t talk about all the wonderful things that the Order has done and is doing but I think at this moment because we live in an age of image, of the modern means of communication, television, and internet and so many things that we have to get this image out.

We have to not… With humility but we have to let people know what we’re about and what we’re doing with the humility knowing that we’re fragile, we’re also sinful people but with humility let people know all of the wonderful things that have been accomplished and continue to be done and accomplished by the Augustinian Order and Augustinians throughout the world. I think the campaign is not just to receive resources and economic funds but is also an opportunity to get a message out that the Augustinians have a message, a vital message, an important message that we’re doing some wonderful things for the world, for our Church, for the poor, for the sick, for the suffering.

We’re educating the poor and we’re doing some wonderful things. I think it’s wonderful that people know that. When they do give if they can they give generous donations to our Order, they know that it’s going for most important purpose. The purpose also to help our sick and our suffering of our very Order and men who gave their lives to service of the Church that need support, need help but it’s also to make sure that the Augustinian Order can continue to serve, continue this wonderful work. I would say yes, we need economic help. We need to get this funding and this fund for our elderly etc., for our sick.

We need people to understand that the Augustinian charism has to continue on and we do need help. We can’t do it by ourselves. We need the help of everyone who’s generous and can come to our help because we can’t do it along but we can do it as an Augustinian family. The people helping us should be a part of that family.

Murphy: Definitely, I like that you say that the campaign isn't just about receiving funds. That is part of it but part of it when… At least here in the office when we’re preparing for the campaign and talking to volunteers you really start to analyze the questions of are we speaking enough about what we do? We just talked about the relevance of the Augustinians in the world today. Do we make that known enough? Humility is a blessing and my job is communications--I’m trying to showcase the Augustinians off but I’m really glad that you commented on that. That’s good insight. We’re also encouraging some of the men that are discerning a vocation to listen to some of these interviews. I’m wondering if you have any advice for anybody that’s discerning a vocation either with the Augustinians or a religious vocation in general.

Turley: First of all wonderful that I think the people who are interested in becoming Augustinians are interested in vocation and directly becoming active members of our Augustinian Province, of our Order. I would say first of all, our Augustinian saints are so important, so vital, the life of St. Augustine is so vital today. His image, he’s a saint for today. He’s a saint for the year 2014, for this third millennium. He’s a great saint. He was a man who had many faults, who was very interested in looking for happiness.

He was looking for happiness in the wrong places and he admits that in his Confessions and he lets everyone know that he’s finally found where happiness is. He found that in following Jesus Christ our Lord. I would say we have to talk about our saints and I think as Augustinian vocations, as young men and women who will be interested in Augustinian, the Order as an order and also for any Augustinian sisters who would be throughout the world that we would focus on Augustine but that Augustine would then bring us to Christ.

We would find that at the center of our life is the Lord Jesus and that he’s the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I think as we do that and we talk about St. Rita, whose the patron of the impossible cases of the sick and the suffering. We have these wonderful saints. I think we should talk about our saints. I think they have great meaning for the church today. As we do that, I think we should talk about our modern saints who are from our very order. I’m thinking like for example, I think it would be great if our young men who are interested in us, for example, would know about the life of Jimmy Lyne.

He’s buried here in Morropón [an Augustinian mission in Northern Peru]. He’s right next to the church right in the community patio that’s where his mortal remains are buried in Morropón. What a great Augustinian who at an elder age was still filled with the spirit of Augustine and he wanted to share his love for others and he comes down and he dies here in Peru in Chulucanas. What a great man. We have someone like John McKniff who’s a servant of God, a venerable, John McNabb who served his whole life as a missionary in Cuba. The last Augustinian, the last American in Cuba what a great tribute.

He was the only American who was left as far as I know, the only American missionary who was allowed to stay in Cuba. In 1968 when he left Cuba he was promised by Fidel Castro that he could return but then they reneged on that and they didn't let him come back. That’s when he came to Peru. He spent the last years of his life from 1972 to 1994, 22 years. He spent the last 22 years of his life in Chulucanas, in Peru serving the poor, visiting the sick and he’s been presented for sainthood. He’s like our saint here from Augustinian saint of the Augustinians in Peru. What a great brother. What a great saint and Jimmy Lyne, John McKniff.

We have so many others, Jerry Theis, who was such a great Augustinian and he suffered with such patience and such humility and such holiness. He said we’re so filled with suffering but he did it in such a beautiful Augustinian, Christian way as truly was a saintly man. We have our own saints. I think our young men should know these men. I think we should talk about them. I think there’s a lot of things that we should be talking about with them. As Augustinians we’re all to be a holy group of men and I think we are in humility. I think we have great saints in our Augustinian province and our Augustinian Order.

All of these things I think we should talk about because when we do that we’re going to talk about men who are deeply in love with the people of God. They were another team of people being out there and serving. Jimmy Lyne was just a man with everyone just fell in love with him because he was so warm, so kind, so good. John McKniff, everyone adored him. He was just a wonderful person. We have people like that, Jerry Theis.  People still talk about him down here in Peru and he’s been gone for years. We have had so many wonderful men and all of these things I think should be talked about with our future members of our Order, of our Province. I would say we should be joyful. We should be thankful, be grateful for all that has been done and for the blessings that God has given to our Augustinians.

Murphy: That’s great advice, Bishop. You ring a bell because Father Tom McCarthy who’s the director of vocations for the Augustinians, he gave a parish mission that I went to that was talking about how the saints are really our heroes. It’s not just the Michael Jordans of the world, it’s the saints that we should really be looking up to. They could be living in our present lives. They are role models that we can be looking up to. St. Augustine is definitely one of them that I think is relatable to a lot of people out there. St. Rita, St. Monica, we’ve heard this time and time again.

I think that’s fantastic advice. The last question I have here is we talked about why the campaign is important, the capital campaign to get out the messaging about what the Augustinians are doing. It can help build resources for the priests that need it and vocations coming into the Order. Why do you think that others should participate in one way or the other to the capital campaign?

Turley: Another reason for… I would say this capital campaign is another opportunity first of all to the people who will be generously participating in the campaign. I think many of them will be people who have been touched by Augustinians in their lives. I think at the moment to ask for their help but also to thank them at the very same time. I think that this capital campaign is an unbelievable good moment for gratitude. In some ways it sounds contradictory thanking people for what they've already done and then asking them again.

I would say that it is an opportunity to knock on people’s doors, to touch people’s hearts, to ask them to come forth in this capital campaign but also to thank them. To thank them and we’re asking them knowing that they've already done so many wonderful things in their lives but to ask them again. To ask them to come forth once more that their help has been probably in most cases constant, generous and we come forth with this confidence knowing that they will understand that we’re only asking that people would give what they can and that they would be as generous as possible with a wonderful, important campaign.

Once again, I would like to repeat and say this is a wonderful opportunity the capital campaign to try to say we want our Augustinian family not just to be a family of priests and brothers who are living in our communities but our Augustinian family goes beyond the community of the strict community where the people live together in the same house but our community includes our families, our friends. It includes all of our benefactors, all of the people who are going to be part of this capital campaign. So much like it’s an opportunity to say we would like you to become part of our family. We would let you in this capital campaign to be a part of the Augustinian family. It’s not just looking for money; we want you to be part of our family.

We want to pray for you and we want you to pray for us. We want you to be part of our mission. Our mission and education, our mission in health, our mission in the Augustinian missions in Japan and Peru, in Trujillo, or in Chulucanas, in the etc. We would be asking the people that are going to be helping us that they would become part of this family, this wonderful family of friends who we call ourselves Augustinians. In Augustine that we would be a part of this capital campaign but not just an economic campaign, that we would be part of a family.

Part of a family that has a message and a mission that we want this world to be a world filled with peace and filled with a lot of good things. We see that the world needs the Augustinians and that we have a vital message. We want them to be part of this message.

Murphy: Thank you so much, it was very well put Bishop. I also want to take one quick opportunity just for the people that are tuning in that are supportive of our missions in Peru, the Vicarate in Peru, the diocese of Chulucanas. They don’t get the opportunity to speak with you very much here in the United States but on behalf of them I just want to thank you for the work that you’re doing down there and the work that all the Augustinians are doing down there and everyone in the Diocese of Chulucanas, you’re in our prayers and we wish you the best of luck and congratulations again on 50 years of work down there, Bishop.

Turley: Yeah, well it’s a wonderful work and just talking about family, everything that’s been done in Peru could never have been done without all of our wonderful family. The Augustinian family which includes all of our benefactors, all the people who prayed for us daily and all of the people who have been supporting us for all of these years, 50 years of people supporting us and we could never have done it without that family, without the Province, without the Order. Also our gratitude to everyone who is in contact with our province and our Order and we couldn't have done it without you. Thank you and you’re all in our prayers.

Murphy: Thank you, Bishop. We’ll let you get going, we know you have an entire diocese to run but once again thank you for taking this time. We wish you the best. Anybody else listening if you want more information on the capital campaign you can contact the campaign director Michael Gerrity at 773-595-4035. Thank you again Bishop, have a wonderful day.

Turley: Thank you, bye.

Posted on December 16, 2014 and filed under Dan Turley O.S.A..