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 The archbishop recently sat down to talk with myFaith Staff reporter Tracy Rusch, who shares his responses, edited by myFaith Staff, below.

1. How can I be certain that I’ve chosen the path God intends for me?

You’re always reviewing your status or position in life, and your relationship to God, so that’s one aspect that you keep in mind, but that’s why there’s an importance of prayer.

If prayer is talking about your relationship with God – and prayer, in a real sense, is not only asking God, but being open to what God’s demanding from you – then it’s not only talking to God, it’s listening to God.

In that sense, what every individual has to do is always be aware of the sacred in one’s life, whether you’re married, whether you’re a priest, whether you’re a religious, whether you’re contemplating particular pathways in your life; you’re always asking the question, “How is God using me as an instrument?” and “How am I reflecting the presence of God in my life?”

After that, it’s relaxing. You relax and know that God’s using you and can form and fashion you. I always loved the lives of the saints because the lives of the saints were always so different and their pathways are always so different, but one thing that’s common is their openness to God’s presence in their lives and that’s what affirms and directs at the same time.

2. What’s your favorite station to listen to when you’re driving?

Obviously, I do (WISN) 1130 (AM), (WTMJ) 620 (AM) because they’re very popular Milwaukee stations; Gene Mueller; Charlie Sykes; I’ll listen to Mark Belling; Jay Weber in the morning – they’re really kind of involved in a lot of the issues that involve Milwaukee.

Of course, Relevant Radio, and when I get a chance, I listen to “Father Simon Says,” who is my classmate, Fr. Richard Simon, the host of that program. I listen to him because it’s like when you listen to a classmate, you can kind of smile and you’re kind of interested in their insights. I also have Sirius(XM Satellite) Radio, so I’ll listen to “The Catholic Channel” from time to time and with “The Catholic Channel,” I would catch Cardinal Dolan when he’s on, also another friend, so it’s always nice to kind of hear his take.

But I also have to confess to you that I would say a good number of times, on the long trips, I’m listening to books on tape. I do a lot of books on tape. In fact, I’m finishing Lynne Cheney’s book on Madison (“James Madison: A Life Reconsidered”), and Dean Koontz’s newest book is on the offing, so that one will be on there. I do Scott Turow, Michael Connelly … I have probably a library of over 500 to 600 unabridged books on tape.

When I was a military chaplain, I would have to travel from fort to fort, which meant almost from state to state. In that time, I’d be covering a book or I’d also do studies, so I did Alan Dershowitz on the Constitution of the United States, I did Peter Kreeft, basically the philosophical underpinnings. So, I do listen to a lot – you come over to my residence, I’ll show you the tall stacks, literally shelves, of books.

3. What’s your favorite family tradition?

When we were kids, the favorite family tradition was always Christmas Eve because the family would observe the Christmas Eve meal with our extended family, so aunts and uncles and everybody would be together.

And then there was a tradition that we would do called the Oplatek, which means a wafer was given to each member, and you broke the wafer and, basically, you kissed them, you wished them well for the coming year and if you had wronged somebody, you would ask for forgiveness from them.

A tradition that my sister and I have continued was we’d always eat herring for luck on New Year’s Eve. That was something my mother used to do, and my sister and I picked it up. I don’t like herring, but I eat a piece of herring on New Year’s Eve for luck, and it brings back the memories of when my mother would be saying, “You eat this for health and for good luck for the coming year.” So, do I believe in the good luck from the herring? No, I believe in the good luck from God, but I believe that the spirit of it is there.

4. How is Common Core going to affect our high schools?

Common Core can be a very highly charged political issue. We always have to be mindful of what the state will use as standards, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what we use to shape our standards or curriculum. We want our young people to be as prepared as possible and to deal with whatever, if you want, the secular society does, so we pay attention to Common Core, but it doesn’t have a direct effect on Catholic identity, or on our schools’ curriculum.

That’s formed and fashioned by ourselves, by our school administrators and it’s our job always to be vigilant to make sure that whatever is being presented to our young people in high school always has both credibility and a sense of responsiveness to the Catholic identity and to Catholic teaching. So, we have to attempt to try to remove it, when in relationship to Catholic schools, from the politically charged environment that Common Core is found in.

It’d be like saying you have state standards, and you work for the church; it’s like saying that the church makes certain demands from you, but the state standards you ignore. Well, you’d say to me, ‘Well, I can’t ignore it because those are standards,’ but when our standards surpass that, then you kind of look at it and you say, ‘Oh yeah, sure, I understand these things,’ but the standards that we have and we maintain surpass those standards that are imposed by the state. And that’s pretty much what our Catholic education is – what we have in terms of curriculum and standards have surpassed that.

We’ve demonstrated it by the number of young people that go to college and become successful coming out of grade schools and into high schools and continue to do that, but you always want to make sure that you pay attention to state standards so we can never be accused of being in isolation.

We want our young people to be engaged in the society. We want them to help reshape the society so that the society has that sense of the Catholic mission, the Catholic sense.

What are the benefits?

The only benefit would be that we don’t ignore that. We don’t place ourselves, necessarily, in an isolation type of mode. Basically, that’s the benefit.

The benefit of Common Core to others is an attempt, although a weak one, to get common standards for education throughout the nation, and that was the ideal, if you want. I don’t know if it’s been realized, but that’s basically the ideal, and with that you’ve got to be very cautious and vigilant to make sure that what’s being imposed is not a philosophical ideology; that’s kind of implicit in what was being chosen.Archbishop Listecki, at age 7 or 8, plays in the backyard of his childhood home in Chicago.

5. Which photo would you choose for Tbt(throw back Thursday)?

I’ve got old photos, but I don’t know if I’ve got old, favorite photos. My sister had given me a bunch of these.

Editor’s note: After looking through photos – including baby photos, a childhood trip to Wisconsin Dells, his ordination as a bishop almost 14 years ago, a chapel he restored, Archbishop Listecki came up with this: