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Acton celebrates silver anniversary at 25th Annual Dinner

On October 21, the Acton Institute celebrated its silver anniversary with its 25th Annual Dinner at the DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fitting for such an milestone occasion, this was the largest annual dinner and the largest single night event that the Institute has ever held, with over 800 freedom-loving individuals from around the country in attendance.

Kris Mauren, executive director and cofounder of the Acton Institute, emceed the event, which featured speeches, toasts, prayers, and reflections on the past, present, and future of the Institute. To begin the program and as a special surprise for guests, West Michigan singer Tony Reynolds sang an a cappella version of “Oh Freedom!”

The Very Reverend Kęstutis Kėvalas, the Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop of Kauna, Lithuania, gave the opening invocation and reflected on how Acton has inspired him and his work. Following dinner, Roger J. Landry, a Roman Catholic priest from the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, also reflected on how Acton has impacted him.

Diet Eman was presented the Faith and Freedom Award for her work during World War II. This award recognizes an individual who exemplifies commitment to faith and freedom through outstanding leadership. During the war, Eman was a member of the Dutch resistance, helping secure ration cards for Jews, rescuing shot-down Allied airmen and risking her life in Nazi-occupied territory. Eman was arrested and sent to a German concentration camp for four months. After the dinner, Eman was presented with the award by Mauren, Sirico, and Acton Founding Board Member, Alejandro Chafuen.

Acton’s president and cofounder, Rev. Robert Sirico, gave the keynote address, reflecting on how the world has changed in the quarter century since he and Mauren founded the Institute, and on what challenges individuals committed to a free and virtuous society face as Acton embarks on its next 25 years.

To bring an end to the evening, West Michigan pastor Rev. Ren Broekhuizen gave the closing benediction.

From Our Conference Participants

You’ve collected such an impressive group of presenters who are rooted in their churches, who have walked the walk and who have hearts for equipping saints for the work of ministry.


Wyoming, Michigan

I can unequivocally state that [“Thriving Churches”] was one of the best [conferences] I have ever attended. The Acton staff produced a conference that was well run and ensured that everyone who attended the event was engaged with each other and the subject matter.


Virginia Beach, Virginia

Poverty, Inc. wins Templeton Freedom Award

Aid has failed to end poverty in developing nations, but unleashing entrepreneurs to help themselves may prove more successful. This is the message of Poverty, Inc., the new documentary from the Acton Institute’s initiative, PovertyCure. “[Poverty, Inc.] contains good news,” says Atlas Network CEO Brad Lips. “The solution to poverty already exists in the entrepreneurialism of the poor themselves. It also conveys a challenge: to retire the top-down systems of aid delivery that bring as many problems as benefits.”

On November 12, at the closing ceremony of Atlas Network’s Liberty Forum & Freedom Dinner, Acton Institute was named the winner of the 2015 Templeton Freedom Award for Poverty, Inc. This honor, named for Sir John Templeton, the late investor and philanthropist, has been given yearly since 2004. It honors his legacy by recognizing the most exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise and the public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation and human fulfillment via free competition.

Drawing from more than 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, this feature-length documentary unearths an uncomfortable side of charity that we can no longer ignore. By tracing paternalism from the colonial era to contemporary times, Poverty, Inc. helps viewers abandon the worn-out standard of aid in favor of change centered on free enterprise and human dignity. It makes the case that the most effective solutions to poverty lie in allowing entrepreneurs to find new, innovative and efficient ways to meet people’s needs. “People of all political stripes [are questioning] whether their actions are really helping the poor,” says Acton’s executive director, Kris Mauren. “Operating under the conviction that thoughtful documentaries change culture, we designed Poverty, Inc. to spearhead a broad reconsideration of poverty that is nonpartisan but pro-market.” For winning this award, Acton will receive a $100,000 prize, and the runners-up will receive $5,000.

Novak Award winner, Catherine Pakaluk, gives Calihan Lecture

On November 18, the 2015 Novak Award winner Catherine Ruth Pakaluk presented her newest academic paper and lecture at the 15th Annual Calihan Lecture. She gave the lecture in the Demetree Auditorium at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida.

In her lecture, titled “Liberty and Dependence,” Pakaluk argued that the very concept of liberty rests on an idea of human nature. “Man is both a rational actor with free will, a responsible agent,” Pakaluk said, “and a dependent creature, governed, like the beasts, by rules and laws he doesn’t get to make up.” She continued:

On these terms, then, liberty is characterized by paradoxical willed dependence that seems to be oriented toward uniting the rational and animal natures of man: the free man rightly discerns the laws that govern him and wills to be subject to them.

Pakaluk was presented with the Novak Award and the $10,000 prize. She is assistant professor of economics and founder-director of the Stein Center for Social Research at Ave Maria University.

Acton@25 Capital Campaign to close on December 31

The Acton@25 Capital Campaign is nearly complete, with 98 percent of the funds raised toward the $12.5 million goal. To help close out the effort, two generous donors have offered to match all donations two-to-one from now until the end of the year.

This capital campaign will help Acton complete some exciting and important projects in the community. It will outfit Acton’s media center, bolstering the production of podcasts, televised interviews and radio programming. The generous support of donors will improve the events in the Mark Murray Auditorium by allowing Acton to continue to bring in the best speakers from around the world and eventually support the live streaming of these events. These new resources will also allow for the expansion of the Acton internship program, which educates and shapes future business, academic and religious leaders.

As a special thank-you, all donors to the campaign will be listed in a commemorative video documenting the Acton Building’s transformation. Donors who have given $1,000 or more to the campaign will forever be a part of the building by having their name engraved on a plaque to be installed in Acton’s main lobby. Acton’s history would not be what it is without the generous contributions of our many, many donors. We want to cement in our building how much these individuals mean to us as an institute by making their names a part of our future.

The success of this campaign will improve Acton’s commitment to serving not just the Grand Rapids community but communities all across the nation and the world that believe in liberty and virtue.

Thank you all for your continued support and confidence in Acton’s mission to promote a free and virtuous society. Everyone at Acton hopes and strives to continue to bring you high-quality curricula, monographs, events, books, educational programs, various conferences series and more.

Acton in the News

“The pope is trying to call us to something beyond politics. Something beyond the domination of politics in our lives.”

—Excerpted from Rev. Robert Sirico’s
appearance on Fox Business.

  • Rev. Robert Sirico
  • Title: Pope Francis and the Vocation of Business
  • Program: Fox Business
  • Air Date: 9.26.15
  • Kishore Jayabalan
  • Title: Pope Francis Visits America
  • Program: France24
  • Air Date: 9.24.15
  • Samuel Gregg
  • Title: Why the left keeps winning
  • Publication: The American Spectator
  • Date: 10.19.15