Anne Russell: Just give us a short synopsis of how you became appointed with them [the Augustinians].
Greg Flanagan: As I mentioned, we became, as a family, familiar with the Augustinians when our oldest son reached the sixth grade. We were living in Tulsa at the time. He was in a Catholic school, but we moved him to Cascia Hall when he just started in middle school. He may have actually been in the first class, I don't really recall. Through that association, the other two of our sons also went to Cascia Hall for a number of years.
I got acquainted with the Augustinians, in particular, Father Brecht, who was the Headmaster there at Cascia Hall, and Father Jacobson founded the middle school as well as many other great guys that were on the staff and faculty there. Fortunate enough to have a social relationship with him as well and have him in our home for supper and what have you. That's how we became friars.
Russell: Thank you for repeating that. My next question would be: What would you say is the role of the Augustinian Order today and how are the Augustinians still relevant in today's society? What's the role today?
Flanagan: I think, primarily, I would view the Augustinians as working in the realm of education, running high schools and so forth, and doing that very well. Secondarily, I know they do a fair amount of parish work and helping out the diocese with parishes. My sense is those are the two principal activities that the Augustinians are involved with.
They do have the missionary activity going on in Peru but I'm not as familiar with that work as I am with the high schools and the parishes.
Russell: I know you're helping with the special Continuing Our [Journey of] Faith campaign for the Augustinians. Why are you so involved in this campaign and what does it mean to you?
Flanagan: I was involved in the first Journey of a Lifetime campaign back in the early 90s, as I mentioned Father Brecht moved to the Chicago area. I had coincidentally moved to Chicago as well on business. I was involved in that council and we had a relatively successful fundraising. Over the years, I served as a trustee in those trusts and seen that the work and the effort and what we've been able to accomplish, we've had 8 or 9 million dollars, depending on the markets, and we've been able to donate $1 million, sometimes $1.2 million, year after year and still maintain the integrity of the trust and the principle of the trust.
When I first got involved, we had, I believe 140 men, not all priests but brothers too, but about 140 fellows. Now, we're down to [being] in the 80's. There's been a number of people gone through this transition in their life, young and active to older and elderly. I'm just null that these guys don't have personal savings or means to enjoy a modest retirement and they don't live big, they live very comfortably, but modestly and I think it's an appropriate thing for people who have been blessed in their lives to be able to support these guys in their later years.
Russell: How long have you been a trustee?
Flanagan: Since the day the trusts were founded, which I think was either '93 or '94.
Russell: That's a long time to give your time and effort. We thank you for that.
Flanagan: Thank you. I think this trust has been viewed positively within the order. I get the sense that the general council has always gone along with and supported our efforts. The feedback we get is from Father Bernie or Father Lego, or whomever, Bob Prevost in the past. They have all seemed to be comfortable with it. We've worked hard at it and I think we've tried to do the right thing. We've been fortunate in some of our decisions and the money has been put to good use.
Russell: My last question is: Why do you think others should go that extra mile to make a special gift to this campaign?
Flanagan: It's in their own hearts. I think you've got a situation with the Augustinians where you have several constituencies, I think. You've got current students and their families. Those people in that situation are imminently involved with what's going on in the school. I'm sure they're very supportive of the school.
Then, you've got alumni and maybe parents of former students that now can kind of look back and see the great work the Augustinians have done. They're not in it day-to-day but they appreciate what's going on and I think they can appropriate that the Augustinians literally don't make any money. They want them to live comfortably and have health treatment and whatever.
I think sometimes, the current families with kids, they get a little lost, not lost, but their focus is on the institution of the school, if you will. There is also the institution of the Augustinians as an Order. It's very hard for them to maintain these older guys out of just operational funds. They genuinely need extra support to get the proper care.
I think by having these trusts and the money set aside for the older guys, it will help recruit the younger people because they're joining an institution that has some financial stability that gives them some comfort that they, too, will have a comfortable older life.
Russell: Mr. Flanagan, I thank you for taking the time to answer my questions this morning and I hope if you ever get to Chicago, I'd like to meet you.
Flanagan: I get to Chicago. We do it out at O'Hare.
Russell: I'm not at O'Hare. I'm a South Side.
Flanagan: Oh, yes. Okay. I was born in the Little Company of Mary Hospital...
Russell: Then you were a South-sider.
Flanagan: I was for a while.
Russell: It's been my pleasure to talk to you and I hope to meet you sometime.
Flanagan: Thank you so much.
Russell: Have a good day.
Flanagan: Okay. Same to you.