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Answering the Call of Ex Corde Ecclesiae

January 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Avila Institute, Dylan Jedlovec

Answering the Call of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”


In 1990, Pope Saint John Paul II issued the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae on the role of Catholic educational institutions in the life of the Church. He says that “It is the honor and responsibility of a Catholic University to consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth.” The Avila Institute seeks to answer his call through providing an education in spiritual theology rooted in the Catholic tradition.

Education can be intimidating. Many people are held back from learning more about their faith because they always found school too challenging. If this describes you, the Avila Institute was designed for you. We offer a Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology, and we want to make it easy for those interested to pursue. The requirements for the Graduate Program are as follows:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent (equivalent can include life experience, professional experience, etc.).
  • The ability to comprehend and interpret the teachings.

As you can see, our Graduate Program does not require an extensive theological or philosophical background, something that may hold many people back from theological graduate programs. At the same time, however, it provides students with a deep knowledge of the mystical wisdom of the Church that will equip them to serve as leaders in the Church in whatever field they may be in. Psychologists, teachers, religious education instructors, mothers, fathers, priests, and religious have all been a part of the Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology. The goal of the Avila Institute is to transform the hearts of students and equip them to serve the Church. We do our best to offer scholarships on a need-basis. If you have questions about whether or not you would qualify for the Graduate Program, please contact us at

As a part of the Graduate Program, you will learn from our incredible team of professors led by Dr. Anthony Lilles and Dan Burke. You will take courses such as:

  • Introduction to Spiritual Theology
  • The Spiritual Wisdom of Eastern Christianity
  • Mystery of Mary and Her Role in the Spiritual Life
  • Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Divine Indwelling
  • Other exciting courses centered around the mystical tradition of the Church

Below is a list of reasons of why you should consider studying at the Avila Institute:

JohnPaulII- Answering the Call of Ex Corde Ecclesiae

Pope Saint John Paul II spoke highly of the role of Catholic educational institutions in the Church's evangelical role in Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

1. The study of the Faith is at the heart of the Church's evangelical efforts: Pope Saint John Paul II wrote the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae in 1990. In it he spoke of the importance of Catholic institutions of higher education, saying that they “are essential to her growth and to the development of Christian culture and human progress.” He also says that a “Catholic University is without any doubt one of the best instruments that the Church offers to our age which is searching for certainty and wisdom.” If we are going to provide the culture with the answers it is so desperately longing for, we need to understand the richness of theology that the Church has to offer. As JPII tells us in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, we need organizations and students committed to studying the richness of the Faith in order to share it with the world.

2. Studying the Faith is a core part of the New Evangelization: A major part of the New Evangelization involves utilizing the benefits of technology. Technology has created the opportunity for people to go back to school without having to relocate. At the Avila Institute, we have embraced this and been able to educate students across the country and the world.

3. Studying the Faith does not have to be an endeavor solely for the most gifted scholars: At the Avila Institute, we have a program for everybody. If you are not ready for the commitment of a graduate-level program, we have less intense programs in continuing education and personal enrichment, as well as the School of Spiritual Formation, which allows students to learn about highly sought after topics such as Discernment of Spirits without the workload of a graduate course. If you want to go deeper in your theological education but have always been intimidated by school, the Avila Institute has a program for you.

4. Spiritual Theology is at the heart of the Church: Despite the richness of the Church’s traditions such as Discernment of Spirits, too many Christians are unaware of the interior movements of the soul. This is dangerous, as the devil works best in our ignorance. Studying spiritual theology can help you to “stand fast with your loins girded in the truth,” and be ready for the spiritual battle we are engaged in. If the culture war is going to be won, it will be won with an understanding of the spiritual realities taking place.

5. Spiritual Theology is fundamental to the life of the Church and it’s evangelization efforts: As important as other branches of theology are, it is essential that the Church understands the fundamental ways in which the Holy Spirit is working in the souls of believers. The encounter of the soul with God in prayer is essential to the life of the Church, for it is the place in which God changes our hearts. Prayer, along with the sanctifying grace of the sacraments, disposes our hearts to this transformation. This interior transformation is the necessary first step in changing the world. We must let God work in us to change our own sinful hearts if we want to change the hearts of those around us. What makes the Avila Institute unique is its focus on this interior transformation. We are committed to forming saints, not just scholars.

6. The Avila Institute Graduate Program was designed to fit into the busy schedules of students: People often say that they don’t have time to do the things that they want to do. However, the problem isn’t a matter of not having time. When something really matters to you, you make time for it. If your faith is important to you, you will make time to take the steps you need to in order to grow in it. The great thing about the Avila Institute is that each course is only once a week, and it is typically at night to accommodate those with full-time jobs and families to take care of. If you pursue the Graduate Program in Spiritual Theology, you have the option of a two-year track, or you can spread the courses out over three to four years if you just don’t have that kind of time.

The Avila Institute exists to serve you. We are striving to answer Christ’s call to feed His sheep, and it is our prayer that we may serve the needs of his Church in the coming years. We are striving to keep the Church's great mystical wisdom at the heart of our mission, as JPII called for in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. For more information, visit our website and contact us at We can’t wait to hear from you!


Art for this post on Answering the Call of Ex Corde Ecclesiae: Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1980, derivative work of J J Georges of Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusius, PD-Worldwide, Wikimedia Commons. Feature Image Art: St. Nicholas Roman Catholic Cathedral, Kyiv by Konstantin Brizhnichenko 11 October 2014, own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons.

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About Dylan Jedlovec

Dylan Jedlovec was formerly an Operations Administrative Assistant at the Avila Foundation, parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and Divine Intimacy Radio. Finishing up an undergraduate degree in Marketing and Economics from Samford University, Dylan is first and foremost a disciple of Christ and a son of the Church. Dylan has a heart for evangelization on college campuses, and has worked closely with FOCUS as a student missionary and served as President of the Catholic Student Association at Samford. As a member of the University Fellows Program at Samford, Dylan developed a love for the writings of the Saints, particularly the Doctors of the Church, through his studies of the core texts of the Western Intellectual Tradition. This love for the rich intellectual tradition of the faith brought him to the Avila Foundation, where he seeks to further the kingdom through feeding Christ’s sheep. In his free time, Dylan enjoys watching baseball, reading, hiking, running, and lifting weights (although you can’t really tell).

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