George Avila is a 2014 graduate of the Master of Arts in Health Care Mission program. After serving last year on the Great Preacher Award Committee, George has offered to help co-chair this year’s event with his classmate Mary L. Hill. George brings such a sense of excitement and energy to his work on the committee. Aquinas is thrilled that George will continue his work with Aquinas by serving as one of the newest members of our Board of Trustees.
Name: George Barajas Avila
Hometown: Mendota, California
Current Location: Keller, Texas
Job Title/Employer: System Vice President, Mission Integration
Spouse’s Name: Eva Avila
Children (names/ages): Olivia (14) & David (7)
Hobbies: Running around with my two beautiful kids, two Labradoodles and miniature longhair Dachshund.
AI: How did you first hear about Aquinas Institute?
GA: I was early in my career in Catholic Health Care at St. Joseph Health in Orange, CA; the Aquinas Institute of Theology was identified as the premier institution throughout the ministry to help prepare lay people to serve in Mission Integration roles. My colleagues would come back from the intensives with incredible insights, and I could see them apply their learnings immediately to their leadership.
I was overjoyed when about eight years later, I was asked to attend the program and assume a formal Mission leadership role. At CHRISTUS Health, we also send our current and future Mission Leaders to the Aquinas Institute of Theology to receive the best theological education that will provide a strong foundation for the ministry of Catholic Health Care to thrive.
AI: What made you decide to give your first gift?
GA: I received an excellent education at the Aquinas Institute of Theology, and I want their incredible work to continue to thrive. As an organization, they are innovative and responsive to the signs of the times to develop diverse servant leaders that will continue to strengthen wonderful works of ministry.
AI: Why do you enjoy giving to Aquinas?
GA: I am part of the Aquinas Institute of Theology Family. Several graduates call ourselves the Aquinas Mafia. We support one another in different projects and opportunities even though we work in various organizations. I serve at CHRISTUS Health, and I can always reach out to my colleagues at Avera, Providence St. Joseph Health, Ascension, Common Spirit, Mercy Health, SCL, SSM, Bon Secour Mercy, etc. if I need to brainstorm on a project to serve the ministry. I can see how we all make a collective impact in Catholic Health Care.
AI: What do you hope to accomplish through your philanthropy?
GA: I want to make a high-quality theological education possible for all interested in serving the common good.
I am from an immigrant family, and my parents always prioritized getting a good education for my siblings and me. It helped transform our realities and make a difference for the generations in my family that will follow. I know that through this investment in Aquinas, I can help make an impact in the lives of others and ensure they receive a solid theological education.
AI: If you were talking to someone else about giving to Aquinas, what would you tell them?
GA: Any amount makes a difference and helps to support the collective work of our common church. You will also make God happy and he will reward you abundantly!
AI: What do you wish everyone knew about Aquinas and our mission?
GA: Our mission is prophetic and welcomes everyone to continue the legacy of the holy women and men that gave life to the beautiful ministry that brings God’s love to the world. You can serve in various ways, and Aquinas Institute of Theology opens your eyes to the many possibilities to preach, to teach, to minister, and to lead.
AI: What other organizations or causes do you support - either through your gifts of money or time?
GA: I am the President of the National Association of Latino Healthcare Executives for the Dallas Fort Worth Chapter. Through this organization, we help college students and early careerists with tools, resources, and opportunities to become leaders and ensure equitable environments of care in Health Care.
Aquinas Institute is blessed by the support we receive from George, as well as from all of our alumni, members of the Board of Trustees, volunteers, donors, and friends.