Body of Christ

You’re a cradle Catholic, but when was it that your faith really began to take shape in your adult life?

There were some key influences I had as a student at Northwestern. I joined a fraternity where there was an amazing group of guys who were very committed Christians. We had a Bible study, and through one of my fraternity brothers who was a devout Catholic, I began to attend daily Mass and get really involved at the Newman Center.

How did your love of scripture develop there?

I was an engineering student, but I took an elective course in New Testament origins that turned out to be the best course in my whole undergraduate career. The professor taught that you cannot claim to understand someone’s thinking until you have studied it so well that you can literally argue from it yourself. That’s one of the things I’ve carried with me through my whole life.

Your love of teaching is really the thread that runs through your whole career in meteorology and education. Where did that start for you?

Up until I was a graduate student, I thought that I would work for the National Weather Service or in some behind-the-scenes forecasting job. A friend of mine said I should try being a TA for a semester, and that was a game-changer. Halfway through my first semester as a TA, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is what God really wants me to do.” Eventually I was offered a job in TV here in Milwaukee at Channel 6, where they prided themselves on being the “community-relation station,” which really resonated with me. In 28 years, I think I did about 1,500 school talks and tours. That was the best part of the job to me.

When you’re not teaching, what are your hobbies?

First and foremost, I love to spend time with my wife. We love to bike, we love to cross country ski, I love to ice skate. We love to walk and hike in the parks, not just around Milwaukee but anywhere within a day’s drive. I enjoy watching sports, whether it’s the Bucks or any of our home teams. I still enjoy rooting for my Northwestern Wildcats.

What happens when the Wildcats play the Badgers?

I’m a Wisconsin fan unless they’re playing Northwestern — then my blood turns purple and white.

You were on television as a weatherman for almost three decades. Did you ever have any interesting fan run-ins?

Oh yes. I was not as recognizable, being the weekend and fill-in person, which was a good thing for raising my family. But there was one time we went to State Fair, when our boys were probably ages 4 through 12. We had a long, wonderful visit, but it was hot and late in the afternoon, and everybody was getting grumpy, and a classic all-out, no-holds-barred family argument erupted. We’re right in the middle of this, and this guy comes up to me and says, “Hey, what’s the forecast for tomorrow?” And I looked at him and said, “Sir, can’t you see we’re having a family argument?”

What is it that you love so much about teaching?

I think the short answer is that it’s the relationship-building. I think what life is all about is becoming who God meant you to be. When I’m in the classroom, I’m there to help kids discover who they’re meant to be. It’s the same thing that draws me to youth ministry. I really like the focus on relationship. Relationship is everything. We share our faith through relationships, the essence of discipleship is relationship, and our focus is not on preaching to kids but on building relationships with them. If your faith is in you, the light will shine through. Content is important, but if you don’t have relationship, catechesis doesn’t happen very easily.

What’s your favorite scripture verse?

I believe Paul’s letter to the Philippians is arguably the greatest book in the Bible, and I absolutely love chapter four — which basically says that whatever things are true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is anything of beauty or anything worthy of praise, think about those things. We should focus on things that are good and positive, because all of what God made is good.