A Contemplative Formation for the New Evangelization

Ecclesia 2018: June 18th - July 21st


A Contemplative Formation for the New Evangelization

Ecclesia 2018: June 18th - July 21st


We would like to thank all of those who have showed such great interest in our Ecclesia Program for this coming summer! For the past 5 years Ecclesia has formed, united, and inspired over 125 young adults to dare great things in their relationship with Christ.  We give thanks for God’s blessings on this wonderful program!
After taking a hiatus to focus our efforts on the founding of the Saint John Institute (, we are excited to offer the Ecclesia Institute to you once again for 2018! 

The Ecclesia Institute is designed to give the participants an experience of the inner life of the Church.  The purpose of the Institute is to make the Church’s mystery present in a tangible way through the Liturgy, the fraternal communion of the participants, the classes dedicated to the pursuit of the Truth, and the culture which flows from Faith.   Through these diverse and rich experiences, and not separated from them, the saving and life-giving presence of Jesus Christ and His Wisdom come to us. 

The Community of St. John believes that the New Evangelization being called for by the Church today requires contemplative evangelizers: men and women who proclaim Christ with their whole persons because they love Him with their whole hearts.

By learning how to love Christ intensely and deeply, placing Him first in their days by prayer and incarnating His love in their daily relationships, participants in Ecclesia will have the solid foundation in which to effectively situate and assimilate the intellectual formation they will receive.  At the heart of the Church is a mystery of love:  Love feeding itself on Truth, and Truth bringing forth a deeper and deeper Love.  We want Ecclesia to be an experience with this love of God, shared in Community.

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit our site. You can learn more about what is offered at Ecclesia by or visiting one of the links below, or you can simply scroll down to see them all!


The Hike

Verso l'Alto!

The Hike

Verso l'Alto!

Adventure with a purpose

The Ecclesia Institute begins with a 4-day hiking trip through the historic and rugged Badlands of North Dakota. This adventure consists in three nights of camping outside in tents, and two full days of hiking. During this time barriers are broken down and participants begin to bond as a community as they encounter the power of God's Word in His creation.

Come, encounter Christ in the wilderness.



The Community

The Community

Life at Ecclesia takes place within the rhythm of a community.

All true evangelization is done through the communion of believers in the Church.  At Ecclesia, participants learn the art of sharing faith and sharing life with one another.  From eating together to playing together to studying and praying together, the Ecclesia experience is an experience of the Church’s communion from within.  Participants will know that they are not alone in their faith walk, but have the help and support of one another as they make their way to Heaven.

 An evening rosary walk on the beautiful University of Mary campus

An evening rosary walk on the beautiful University of Mary campus


The Classes

The Classes

Theology - The New Evangelization

The New Evangelization called for from within the Church needs to be understood in the perspective of Jesus Christ.  This course will help Christians as they live out the apostolic vocation inherent to their lives by focusing upon what is revealed, especially in Holy Scripture, as regards the nature of their mission.  The Holy Spirit also teaches us through the Church’s Tradition and her Doctors so, after looking at key texts of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas, this course will turn to more recent documents such as Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium, Ad Gentes (1965) and Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975).  The course will look to face challenging questions like: What is the Church’s mission of Evangelization?  What light does Holy Scripture shine upon the mystery of the spreading of the Good News?  Are there certain tools and methods that have been revealed to us and that we can then wisely include in our efforts of evangelization?


  • Complexity of Evangelizing action
  • Renewal of humanity
  • Evangelization of cultures
  • Witness of life
  • Explicit proclamation
  • Methods of evangelization

Topics to be covered in this course

  • Mystery of Revelation
  • Fullness of Revelation in the Person of Jesus Christ
  • Nature of mission
  • Jesus Christ the Evangelizer
  • The Evangelizing Church
  • the "Spirit of Evangelization"

Course Outcomes

  • Understand the importance of Revelation, especially Holy Scripture, in a specifically Christian reflection.
  • Know where to find in Holy Scripture, and analyze, the key texts revealing the mysteries of Christian evangelization.
  • Discuss, through a selected few of their writings, theological contributions to this specific search for truth made by Church Doctors such as Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas.
  • Analyze key ideas about the course subjects as taught in Vatican II documents and encyclical letters.
  • Discuss through an analysis of Evangelii Nuntiandi what the Church calls the "Spirit of Evangelization" and relate the fundamental importance of a number of methods. 

Philosophy of Culture

Taught by Father Nathan Cromly, CSJ

In order to respond to the needs of the New Evangelization called for by the Successor of Peter, this course explores the philosophical questions surrounding the nature and experience of human culture. Students examine the major philosophical currents that influence Western culture as well as their presence and impact on modern American culture. All courses finish with an analysis of these currents of thought in the light of Aristotelian-Thomistic realism and the demands intrinsic to the Word of God for the New Evangelization.

Instruction in the Philosophy of Culture focuses on a particular subject each year. While the emphasis is placed upon evangelization, students will investigate the works of modern philosophers who have shaped our current cultural context. This year's class will focus on the impact of individualism in our American culture. In particular the thought of John Stuart Mill and Friedrich Nietzsche will be analyzed. After throughly considering the thought of each philosopher, students each summer will study Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas, papal encyclicals and speeches, as well as other philosophers and Catholic voices.

This course seeks to answer questions such as:

  • What role does culture play in shaping morality?
  • How do thoughts and ideas shape culture?
  • What is the relationship between culture, law, and morality?
  • What is Aristotelian realism, and what is its importance for the evangelization called for by the Catholic Church?
  • What is the relationship between radical materialism and political secularism?


Course Objectives

  • Analyze the basic content of various philosophical thoughts and the power of these philosophies present in our contemporary American society.
  • Understand the relationship between culture and human acts, and its importance for moral judgments.
  • Discuss the importance of philosophical reflection for the shaping of culture.
  • Apply the basic philosophical approach of Aristotle to the question of the human person.
  • Relate the place and importance of a realistic philosophy to the Catholic Church’s evangelization efforts.

The Liturgy

The Liturgy

The Second Vatican Council teaches us: “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows.”  At Ecclesia, liturgy becomes a part of your daily life.  The rhythm of the monastic prayer schedule of the Community of St. John structures our day — from silent Eucharistic Adoration to chanted offices to the Holy Mass we go forth to offering ourselves to God in service, sports, study, and time together.  Participants thus learn the liturgy "from the inside” as well as come to a deeper understanding of its proper celebration.

During the Ecclesia Institute, you will participate in the liturgy and prayer through:

  • Daily Mass
  • Adoration
  • Chanted offices (Liturgy of the Hours)
  • Lectio Divina
  • The Rosary
  • A silent retreat
  • Daily Recitation of the Angelus
  • The sacrament of confession 
  • and more!

At Ecclesia, the Mass is the high point. The rest of our rhythm takes shape around it. 

Come, learn what it means to truly adore Christ at Ecclesia. 


"The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy."

-Sacrosanctum Concilium ¶ 112

The liturgies of the Ecclesia institute will form an important and vital part of your growth in faith this summer. We turn to our mother, the Church, at whose feet we sit to learn to pray, through Her liturgical traditions. Sacred music plays a vital role in these liturgies, for it clothes the Word of God with splendor and beauty, and enables us to better worship God and grow in holiness.

This summer, our liturgies will draw on the Church's vast treasury of sacred music as a means of drawing the hearts of all deeper into the mystery of God. Whether it be Gregorian chant, chant in English, choral music, or sacred organ music, the liturgical music at Ecclesia will strive to cultivate singers' talents in creating sublimely beautiful music in order to convey the reality of the earthly liturgy as a reflection of the Divine liturgy taking place continuously in heaven. The music, though varied, will reflect a fidelity to the Church's liturgical texts.

There are two levels of participation available to those who would like to take part in the music program at this summer's institute:

  • Rehearsal 5 days/week for 45 minutes, singing at most of the institute's liturgies
  • Rehearsal 2 days/week for 45 minutes, joining with the above group, singing at Sunday and feast day liturgies

Part of this summer's institute for all participants will be a celebration of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite throughout the institute. All other liturgies will be in the ordinary form of the Roman rite.

"The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. 'Cantare amantis est,' says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father."

- Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, The Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 142


The Arts

The Arts

“Every form of catechesis would do well to attend to the “way of beauty” (via pulchritudinis). Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with new splendour and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties. Every expression of true beauty can thus be acknowledged as a path leading to an encounter with the Lord Jesus. This has nothing to do with fostering an aesthetic relativism which would downplay the inseparable bond between truth, goodness and beauty, but rather a renewed esteem for beauty as a means of touching the human heart and enabling the truth and goodness of the Risen Christ to radiate within it. If, as Saint Augustine says, we love only that which is beautiful, the incarnate Son, as the revelation of infinite beauty, is supremely lovable and draws us to himself with bonds of love. So a formation in the via pulchritudinis ought to be part of our effort to pass on the faith.” (167)

-Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 167

Via Pulchritudinis

Beauty opens the soul to truth and the heart to goodness.  It plays an integral part in the transmission of the Faith, because it presents the full dimension of truth:  truth does not just address the mind, but attracts the heart.  At Ecclesia, the arts are cultivated and given an important place in expressing the human quest for fulfillment and in helping pass along the heritage of western culture.  Ecclesia is the not only informative, but inspirational!  

During Ecclesia, you will benefit from:

  • The opportunity to interact with and learn from professional artists who seek to inspire evangelization through beauty
  • Watch and discuss various films related to our culture
  • Participate in or watch a theatre production
  • The opportunity to participate in the choir
  • The opportunity to share poetry, stories, songs, and talents.
  • Special offerings with a professional artist.



The rigorous formation of Ecclesia is balanced with a healthy dose of recreation and social activity. During Ecclesia you will have the chance to bond deeply with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and create life-long friendships. Some of the recreational activities you'll enjoy are:

  • Bonfires
  • Group Sports
  • Daily free-time
  • Movie nights
  • "Family Time" on Sunday's
  • And More! Not to mention the camping trip, the fun to be had in the Theatre production, and all elements of the program.

"Extra-Curricular" Activities

"Extra-Curricular" Activities

In addition to the formation that is shared by the entire community, individuals have the opportunity to exercise their gifts for the good of the community in a variety of other ways. Some of these include:


Choir - Participants at Ecclesia have the opportunity to share their musical talent for the glory of the Lord in the liturgies. Please see "Music" on the Liturgy page for more information!

Theatre - The Theatre group exposes the participants (both the actors and those viewing) to the power of theatre as a form of expression, truth, and culture. It allows an opportunity to receive artistic tradition and knowledge, and pass it on to a culture that is starved of the basics!

Lector/Altar Servers/Sacristy - Participants are given the opportunity to serve in the liturgy as altar servers (men), lectors (men and women) and sacristy (men and women). You will be trained by the religious brothers and sisters on how to perform these offices with reverence and joy.

Environment Team - During Ecclesia, the living, eating, praying, and learning spaces are enriched with beautiful and edifying decorations by the “Environment Team.” This team will create spaces of silence and focus in the rooms to heighten our sense of prayer and purpose, providing the setting for our culture of excellence. It will give examples of ways  to use decoration to highlight and serve prayer to future evangelizers.

Disputatio - Ecclesia is a place where the leaders of tomorrow are formed.  An essential component to their formation is their hope-filled conviction that Christ’s word can be effectively brought to bear against the questions and dilemmas of our modern world. Every Friday we bring two teams of participants together to engage debates on topics that the modern world is facing.  

What else? You tell us! We encourage participants to be creative and free in sharing their gifts with the community. In the past, participants have shared their talents of leather-working, wood-working, rosary making, "Soul Core" exercises, painting and more! 


Marian Consecration

Marian Consecration

The Ecclesia Institute is consecrated completely to Mary, and draws participants deeper into relationship with Jesus through her. 

 Participants at the Ecclesia Institute have the opportunity to make the consecration for the first time, or renew it! Every participant will...

  • Receive a copy of the book Totus Tuus
  • Have the option of attending weekly talks by the brothers and sisters of the Community of Saint John on St. Louis De Montfort's consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Have the option of being enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular
  • Go on a foot pilgrimage in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary