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 email@example.com. The archbishop recently sat down to talk with myFaith Staff reporter Tracy Rusch, who shares his responses, edited by myFaith Staff, below.
1. Who is your favorite Disney character and why?
Mickey – I don’t think you have Disney without Mickey and, of course, I was the generation where we had ”The Mickey Mouse Club.” I do remember as a kid especially one of my favorite comedic bits was a labor dispute between the Disney characters and the Warner Brothers characters and the labor dispute was being settled by Henry Kissinger. He would talk and, of course, they would have all the voices of all the characters and it was just hilarious. It had Daffy Duck (Warner Bros.), who you could understand, but then Donald Duck, who you couldn’t understand, trying to talk to one another.
Woody Woodpecker (Universal Studios) is another one I loved as a kid. Cartoons during that period of time were really special for kids – young people today, kids today, would not understand this, but parents would have an automatic babysitter Columbus Day, when they would be off, or Lincoln’s birthday or Washington’s birthday, because the local movie theater would run 50 cartoons. Mothers would drop their kids off, they’d go in, they’d sit in the movie theater, they’d get a little money for either the famous Dots or Junior Mints or popcorn, and you’d sit there from late morning into the early part of the afternoon, watching one cartoon after the other. It was great for the kids and great for the parents, too.
2. How is the Archdiocese of Milwaukee seeking to engage the poor and minority communities in the Milwaukee area?
First of all, we have parishes located in those areas, so that’s really our link community-wise to those areas that are economically challenged, and we have Catholic Charities which does a tremendous amount of work. Over and above that, we have an obligation through the Gospel to raise the consciousness of people of our responsibility to the poor.
There are various agencies, so if we can’t do it immediately, we can support those agencies financially, or sometimes, especially if we want to challenge ourselves, we can find time to be able to do that – the House of Peace, St. Ben’s in terms of the kitchen that’s offered there, so many different opportunities.
My job as a leader, as a bishop, is to present the opportunities and then challenge people to plug in. Christianity does not allow you just to think about yourself; if you’re committed to Christ, Christ’s demand is that we think about others.
3. What “famous” place would you like to visit that you’ve never been to before?
Let’s put it in three categories: If we’re talking about spiritual places, certainly I’d love to make it to Fatima, or I’d still love to do a little bit of the tracing of Paul’s footsteps in Greece. So, in the spiritual realm, I’d really like to do that. That would be a wonderful opportunity. In the visual realm, I haven’t been to Mount Rushmore, so I’d certainly love to see Mount
Rushmore, just to take a look at it. In the natural realm, I still want to make it out to the Grand Canyon, to be able to see that – that was on my bucket list.
4. In what ways has your life, or has someone you know, been affected by mental illness?
I was fortunate enough to spend over two-and-a-half years as a psych tech at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago – it was a closed psychiatric unit – so I saw those who were in trauma because of mental illness. Also in college, I worked at Dunning Mental Institution, a state-run mental institution, and I, with a number of others, went there and we did quasi group where we tried to get interaction with those individuals.
Mental illness is a disease that is hidden from the public, so in a real sense we immediately will take a look at the physical nature and our hearts will go out when we see somebody who is stricken physically in some way. We understand the brain can have that same almost crippling effect on someone’s life, and it’s not until someone who’s famous suffers from something such as Robin Williams and his depression, that suddenly we turn our attention, and we begin to examine our treatment of individuals in our society.
Right now, in the diocese, we’re trying to coordinate something to raise the consciousness of people who work in our high schools … concerning depression, so the marks of depression affect all of us. So, how has it affected me? It’s been a part of my formation, almost all of my seminary life, my priestly life and now even as a bishop.
Advice you would offer someone struggling?
My advice always is to seek out help. First of all, someone going through a mental crisis needs a good listener, but they also need someone who can intervene on their behalf, who can direct them to those individuals that can help them. That’s not always easy in our society. I mean, quickly, if someone were hurting, had pains in their chest or something, you’d run them right over to the emergency room, but if someone is talking about their anxiety or if someone is talking about their feeling of depression, we don’t usually have someone we can immediately direct them to.
I think maybe our priests, teachers are always good first responders, but even with priests and teachers we’ve got to know how to back them up with professional care, if that’s needed. Part of good mental health is keeping good spiritual life there though, too, it really is – that helps.
5. What’s one of your favorite recipes?
I don’t do any baking, but my sister does a tremendous graham cracker cherry cheesecake, it’s kind of like a chiffon, I think it’s cream cheese and cherry and stuff that’s put on the top of a graham cracker base.
It’s a cheesecake, but it’s a little special.
Where did it originate? My mother. It was done in the family all the time, there’s also a blueberry cheesecake that I love very much, which Penny will make. Again it’s a graham cracker base and it’s almost like a cheesecake but it’s layered on the top with blueberries. It’s really good. She’ll make them for the holidays, so for Christmas, for Easter, the special days.
Mama’s Dream Whip Cheesecake
1 box (2 envelopes) Dream Whip
1 c. cold milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
2 cans cherry pie filling
2 graham cracker pie shells or 1
(9×13 inch) graham cracker shell
Beat 1 box (2 envelopes) of Dream Whip as directed on box. Add 1 (8 oz.) cream cheese continually beating. Add 1 cup powdered sugar. Beat until fluffy. Pour into baked graham crust pie shell (cooled). Cover with cherry pie filling. Let stand in refrigerator until well chilled.
(Submitted recipe courtesy Mary “Penny” Listecki)