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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Dr. Chris Burgwald

Updated: May 27, 2018

By Gordon Nary

Gordon: When did you join St Lambert Parish and how has St Lambert Parish contributed to you spiritual life?

Chris: I’ve been a member of St Lambert parish in Sioux Falls since 2004, where I have been spiritually nourished via the sacraments, parish events and excellent relationships with our clergy and fellowparishioners ever since.

Gordon: You studied Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Minnesota before transferring to Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS).. What was you major at FUS?

Chris: I majored in Theology and minored in philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Gordon: What were some of your favorite courses at FUS?

Chris: Where to begin! I had a number of terrific courses with excellent professors at FUS: Dr. Scott Hahn for Christology and for Old Testament; Dr Mark Miravalle for Mariology; Dr. Alan Schreck for Vatican II; Fr. Anthony Mastroeni for medical ethics were all excellent.

Gordon: You earned yo r doctorate in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. What interested you in studying Dogmatic Theology?

Chris: Ever since I had my “reversion” during my first college years, I have been interested in what the Church teaches and why She teaches it. And many of my specific questions concerned things like the existence and nature of God, the Church and its truth claims, etc., all things which fall under the category of dogmatic theology.

Gordon: Could you comment on the importance of Matthias Joseph Scheeben on the current insights into Dogmatic Theology?

Chris: Scheeben is a bit of an unsung hero in modern Catholic theology. He lived and worked as a priest in the late nineteenth century in Germany with a generally Thomistic approach to theology (“Thomistic” referring to the theological “style” of the great Dominican saint and theologian, St. Thomas Aquinas), but with a bit of a unique approach. Unfortunately, while the genius of his work was recognized by many, Scheeben was sort of lost sight of during the course of the twentieth century, at least among English-speaking theologians, but there has been a resurgence of interest in his work over the last ten years or so.

Scheeben’s importance owes to his rather unique ability to do theology in a way that richly feeds both the mind and the soul, i.e. is deeply intellectual but also deeply spiritual. This is a characteristic which is unfortunately not always true of dogmatic theology, but one which Scheeben accomplished brilliantly. In reading him, both the truth and the beauty of our Catholic faith comes alive.

Gordon: When did you join the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls as Director of Evangelization & Catechesis and what are your primary responsibilities?

Chris: I began work with the Diocese in September of 2002. While the title has changed a few times over the years -- it’s currently Director of Adult Discipleship and Evangelization -- the work as largely remained the same: I work for the Bishop of Sioux Falls to support the priests and people of the Diocese of Sioux Falls to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ and their ability to share that faith with others.

Gordon: What social media tools does the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls use?

Chris: While we dabble in several, we most commonly use YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Gordon: How important is video as a resource in your ministry?

Chris: Video is very important… we are blessed with an excellent Communications department, and they help us produce video resources that get our somewhat unique approach to diocesan discipleship ministry out to our people.

Gordon: What was the reason for the production of the diocese’ great video series on Forming Intentional Disciples?

Chapter 1: God Has No Grandchildren

Chris:   I was fortunate enough to have been I was fortune enough to have met Sherry Weddell. author of Forming Intentional Disciples  during my studies in Rome, and I’d followed her work and the work of the Catherine of Siena Institute with great interest over the years. When I heard about the book that she was writing, I was very excited, knowing that it was an important book for the Church in our time. When it came out, it met all of my expectations, and I knew that we had to get its message out. Eric Gallagher, my colleague who works with Youth Discipleship and Evangelization, agreed, and together with our Communications department, we produced that series of videos. Gordon:  What impact has these videos has on some of the pastors and other leaders in your diocese? Chris:  Many of our leaders -- both lay and ordained -- appreciated the series as a way to “get into” Sherry’s book and as a way to reflect on how it might be helpful to their own ministry. Gordon: Are there any plans for future videos? If so , on what topics?

Chris: We are blessed to be living in a time when various apostolates are producing video resources of an incredibly high caliber. We have no desire to reinvent the wheel, so our video series tend to be focused on areas which others aren’t addressing at the moment. We have a number of things in mind, but aren’t ready to announce anything at this time. But please stay tuned!

Gordon: Thank you for a super interview.


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