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 Ricardo Torres, who shares his responses, edited by myFaith Staff, below.
1. By now the number of homicides in Milwaukee has surpassed the total of 86 from 2014. What would you tell someone who wants to use violence to solve a situation?
I don’t think violence is ever a solution to any problem. Oftentimes, we see it creates more problems. When individuals are frustrated they should look at means available to release the tension. We can’t make enemies of those who protect us. We have to be cooperative with local law enforcement. When local law enforcement is not responsive, be a political voice to make law enforcement responsible.
In order for communities to be safe, and I’ve said this before, we all have to take responsibility. We can’t depend just on law enforcement, we have to be the eyes and the voice that alerts our community to aspects that render it, such as gangs, drug dealers, and individuals that prey on the elderly. If everybody were to do that, if everybody were the eyes and ears, it wouldn’t be so easy to get away with a shooting, with a mugging. When we all start to understand our responsibility, then you start to see a change in the environment.
How would you advise someone tempted to use violence in a situation?
You personally have to restrain yourself. Physical violence never solves a problem; it creates more problems. Understand that people who shout at you or yell at you, they have a bad day, too, just like we all have had bad days. Rather than reacting to that type of intensity, what you do is walk away from it so that you allow everything to calm down.
2. What do you know now, after 40 years of preaching, that you wish you had known when you were first ordained?
In those first couple years you’re looking to preach the perfect homily. You bang your head against the wall and you really look for that perfect word. What I discovered, as you go along, you create in your mind what is the perfect homily, the “Oh, my gosh I hit a home run with this one,” and people will walk in the back of church and say, “Thanks a lot, Father.” And then there’s another time when you said, “Gee, I didn’t have this together. I couldn’t string my thoughts together,” and inevitably somebody comes up and says “Your homily really touched my life, and I’m different because of it.”
What it begins to help you understand is it’s not about you; it’s about the Holy Spirit. You do you’re best to try to reflect the Word. What you have to do is familiarize yourself with the texts so much that, spiritually, it becomes a part of you, that when you are preaching people think you’re speaking in a nonchalant manner, but really it’s been due to a great deal of reflection. And as you get older, you add to your bank of experience and see how it’s applied.
3. What indoor activities are you looking forward to during fall and winter?
I’m always a big movie buff, so I have a number of DVDs that I want to get into and take a look at. Since being a bishop, I’m like a year, a year and a half behind everybody else, so now, when winter comes, I might catch an evening free – I could pop a DVD in and see one of the ones I haven’t seen.
Any particular genre?
I really like them all, I really do. I like mysteries and sci-fi a great deal. And you can put this in — I’m not too into “chick flicks,” although some are good, like “Sleepless in Seattle,” that wouldn’t be the first on my list.
I’m interested to see “Jurassic World,” but by that time, it’ll probably be on DVD. Some of the ones I want to watch are “Unbroken,” “American Sniper.” Then some of the not-so-popular ones like “God is Dead.”
4. Hundreds of people camped out at the Summerfest box office hours before it opened to get Rolling Stone tickets this past spring. Have you ever done that for a concert or major event? If you haven’t, what would you consider big enough to make you camp out?
I never have. I have waited in line for a long time for funerals. There have been people in my life who have been important to me as a priest, who were also very popular. When I say waited in line, I mean I waited 45 minutes to an hour to go past the coffin and pay my respects. But I’ve never done anything like that for a rock star or musician. Had I been in Chicago when Pope John Paul II came here (1979), I would’ve waited in line. I would’ve gone out the night before and tried to park in Grant Park to do that.
5. What technology or new devices do you have?
I have all the stuff everybody else has. I have an iPad, I have a Nook (pulls out iPhone) here this is a (iPhone) 5; it’s not a 6.
The calendar is on here, contacts are on here. This doesn’t always sync with everything else. My iPad syncs with the computer here. When they put stuff on here, BOOM, I got it. But I don’t always get it for some reason. Our high tech here is kind of lower tech. I, myself, am not a techie; there are some priests and some guys that are really good with tech. I’m not good with tech. Maybe it’s lack of patience. I’m very fortunate to have people because it’s very important to have stuff like this.
Right from the start I had the Palm. It’s like a Blackberry but it’s a precursor to a Blackberry.
What apps do you like to use?
The Divine Office I use a lot. This will also pray along with you. If you want to use the sound, it has music on here. It will say hymns for you, so it will basically do everything for you. I can bring this up and say mid-day prayer. I can say morning prayer. I don’t have to take out a book, I can just take out my phone. I have the Bears (app). I have the Packers (app). The Bible is on here.