In this episode, Andrew visits with Dr. Richard Ludwick, president of the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Ludwick shares about the mission and vision of University of Thomas, and he and Andrew discuss the unique collaboration between the University of St. Thomas’s MAX Studios with Word on Fire and their project that focuses on the effective use of social media for evangelization.
A country boy at heart, Dr. Ludwick grew up on a large farm in Indiana, married his high school sweetheart, and earned an impressive number of advanced degrees at universities across the country. Dr. Ludwick practiced law for a decade before starting his career in higher education.
University of St. Thomas
Dr. Ludwick admits that though a lot of people are not yet familiar with the University of St. Thomas (UST) in Houston, there are so many great things happening in the faithful and diverse UST community. UST successfully pairs innovation and educational competency, and the community strives to live the university’s motto that calls community members “grow together in Christ.”
MAX Studios and St. Maximilian Kolbe
The University of St. Thomas’s MAX Studios are named in honor of St. Maximilian Kolbe. St. Maximilian Kolbe lived in the early 1900s, and he relied on the latest media of his time to expand his ministry. He operated printing presses, and his unfulfilled goal was that of creating a film studio and making films to evangelize. St. Maximilian Kolbe knew how to reach people where they were, and MAX Studios aspires to do the same.
Word on Fire Partnership
UST’s MAX Studios recently partnered with Word on Fire to produce a video series called The New Evangelization and New Media Series. The partnership between the two ministries stems from a desire to reach people where they are. To do so, the project leverages the skills and influence of people who are already using the digital world to connect with followers in a real way.
Innovation and Connectivity
Dr. Ludwick shares that the goal of the New Media Series is to build a great web of connectivity across the globe. He wants to use infrastructure that was built outside of the Church (in this case, social media) to evangelize. Everyone, from the most successful influencer to the newest Facebook user, has a realm of influence in their personal lives. Everyone has an audience they can help to evangelize, and UST and Word on Fire hope to capitalize on these relationships and help people better share the Gospel.
If you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
The Catholic Church, not during the time of the Apostles, but for the disciples that came 3 to 4 generations after the Apostles.
If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Mother Teresa - I would love to ask for her tips on how you can better touch the hearts of people through your own acts and encourage them to join your ministry.
Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
Oh yes! There is more than enough money. Our goal as fundraisers is to find the fit, the triggers, the way that speaks to the hearts of donors and encourages them to give money.
What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
Be bolder about what you are called to do! Quit trying to avoid things and just go boldly into what your heart is calling you to do.
Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
My parents: The lessons I received from them in grit and determination have been a tremendous help to me.
Pope John Paul II: I use his great witness as a guide.
Amalgam of people from throughout my formation: For example, a great teacher, an awesome priest, a VP in college - they all gave me pieces of their charism. They form a composite, if you will.
What is one fact about you that most people don’t know?
I’m legally blind, and most people don’t notice that.
What is a book that you would recommend?
The Holy Bible
If you would like to learn more about the University of St. Thomas and UST’s MAX Studios, please see the following links:
First, it's always a great reminder to learn about the impact of St. Maximilian Kolbe. That dude was a boss. A true innovator and advocate for utilizing the media and technologies of the day to evangelize, he lived an amazing life until his personal self-sacrifice to save another. I love that he is the namesake for MAX Studios at St. Thomas, and I hope that you’ll continue to investigate his life and the impact that one man can have on so many.
And, in that vein, my second takeaway is the importance of utilizing the available technologies to spread the Gospel. Like Dr. Ludwick talked about, the early Christians used the roads that the Romans built to travel the world and talk about Jesus. It's weird to think of roads as a new technology, but that was the case in the early centuries. It's the same with newspapers and the internet. And, I suspect that someday, we will think of social media as commonly as we think of roads. So, in your life and work, don't be afraid to travel the roads of new technology in service to God.
And last, we all have our own area of influence in our lives. For the presenters in the new media program that UST and Word on Fire are leading, they have millions of people who tune into them regularly and are influenced by their thoughts. That’s probably not your situation, but what is your area of influence? What can you do to invite those around you to live out their call to Christ? How can your work be an influencer? We talk regularly about the spirituality of fundraising but the majority of people don’t think of philanthropy as an act of worship or a way to grow in virtue. You have people that you are meeting with daily that you can share that message with and help them increase together in Christ as Dr. Ludwick said. It can be scary, but that doesn't mean its not a worthy and virtuous endeavor.
I hope that you enjoyed this and that it made you think. I encourage you to check out the videos at Max Studios and make an effort to better understand how we can all use social media to better evangelize. God bless and we’ll see you next time.