Three times each year, myFaith reporters have a chance to speak with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki about anything young adults want to know – send a question to be asked anonymously in the next issue to firstname.lastname@example.org. The archbishop recently sat down to talk with myFaith Staff Reporter Ricardo Torres, who shares his responses, edited by myFaith Staff, below.
What was your most memorable summer job?
I’ve had a number of memorable summer jobs. One was as a soda jerk in an ice cream parlor, a very famous parlor, Gayety’s Candy Company. I was behind the counter making banana splits and sundaes, shakes and malts, scooping cones. They said you’re surrounded by ice cream and at the end of this you’re going to hate ice cream. No way! I love it until this day.
For an entire summer, I worked alongside the Catholic Extension Lay Volunteers. We worked assisting a missionary parish, in Sulphur, Oklahoma.
It was so memorable, because it was the first time (this) city kid was basically on a horse. We were riding, literally, the range. It was a little bit of a culture shock. When you’re on a ranch there’s a different ebb and flow of the day that’s just not normally there in an urban setting.
At the same time, your vision of the land opens up because of it. We did some tutoring and some catechesis. I would even say at the end of the summer I was saying “y’all” just like everybody else. After that, I was in the steel mills for my summer job.
We heard you played piano when you were younger. What did your parents have to do to get you to practice?
When you’re taking lessons once a week, the embarrassment of not knowing the piece you were given was there. However, I love music but I’m a good assessor of my own self and I could technically understand the piano, but I didn’t have “it.” There were others that I was with who had “it.” That’s a big difference.
When an individual is really involved in an instrument, you know that there’s a difference with somebody who can just play an instrument. When it comes to the piano, it’s a wonderful instrument, but I didn’t have the talent others had.
My parents were pretty wise in the sense they made an assessment and in laying on the maternal or Catholic guilt: “Your father and I work very hard for money; we’re paying for your lessons…” The Catholic guilt was probably the biggest thing to get me to do my lessons. They wisely decided to discontinue the lessons.
Is it immoral or wrong not to vote for any political candidate if I don’t think they’re what’s best or if I don’t like everything about them?
Every person has to decide at what level they’re going to participate in government. The church teaches that if you’re going to be a good citizen, you should participate in the government. One of the great privileges and the rights we have is the right to vote and to form, basically, our government and our governmental leaders.
Catholics are required to make an earnest effort to study the candidates and decide who best will reflect good leadership, and good moral leadership, for the country, and exercise their right to participate in the government.
I know people feel frustrated when a candidate totally doesn’t reflect what they feel, what they want. At that point, they have to decide whether or not they’re going to engage their responsibility to vote for someone. They have to accept the responsibility when voting for one person, they may end up allowing someone who is more disadvantageous to the whole leadership and to the government process. You’ve got to study. You can’t say, “I’m out of the process, I’m not going to vote for anyone.” You’ve got to take a look at who would best serve those aspects you would want to see even if it wouldn’t fulfill everything you wanted.
What is the funniest moment that happened to you during a Mass or wedding?
The funniest thing was at a wedding. I’d warned the bridesmaid who was doing the petitions at her sister’s wedding that the petitions read, “Let us pray for the newly married couple ___ and ___” and it meant she should insert their names. So I put in, literally, the sister’s name and husband’s name. And the bridesmaid looked at me at the rehearsal and said, “You don’t think I don’t know my own sister’s name and brother-in-law’s name?”
And I said, “Well, it’s just that the emotions of the day can make you go blank.”
And it came time for the petitions on the day of the ceremony. And she looked out and said, “Now, let us pray for the newly married couple…” and there was this blank stare. And she looked over to me and I looked at her and smiled, and then she looked down at the paper and read the names. The emotions of the day can throw you off.
Another situation, I don’t know if it was so funny, but it was so hot in the church and here I am waxing eloquent at the homily. And I’m looking over and I see the bride, and all of a sudden she has her head on the groom’s shoulder. So I’m thinking, “Wow, this is very nice; you can see the two of them getting into it. “
And I catch the eye of the groom and he goes (shaking head quickly). She was passed out. So I quickly brought a closure to the homily, and we sat her down in the chair, sat her upright and got some water for her. It was hot. It was an August wedding and it was a big church, no air conditioning.
You always tell brides and grooms not to put rings on the ring bearer’s pillow because halfway down, I’ve had incidences when the ring bearer will sit down in the middle of the aisle. I’ve had situations when the ring bearer lost the rings on the way down the aisle. Luckily, we found them. Or the flower girl will decide to toss out too many petals too early; she’ll go to the pew and sit down, and there’s still a half an aisle to go. You always plan at a wedding that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong.
If I’m having a barbecue and I invite you over, what should I cook on the grill?
First, I eat anything. Whatever you’re putting on the grill I will eat, no problem. But obviously if you’re doing barbeque you have got to have ribs and chicken. Those are the two things you have to have in terms of barbeque.
There are two types of ribs: there are ribs that are steamed and that’s when the meat falls off the bone. For the true person who loves barbeque, the ribs are not steamed ahead of time, so when you take the rib you almost have to gnaw the meat off the bone. But for me, it doesn’t matter; just invite me over.
I have an affection for eating.