Give Us Shepherds

Your career was a blend of media and healthcare — tell us about that.

I just retired from the Medical College of Wisconsin last year as the director of instructional media for the anesthesiology department. We would record and photograph procedures in the OR, videotape lectures, (and) develop and produce scientific exhibits, things like that.

That’s a field that must have changed a lot over 40 years.

It certainly did; we went from the old glass mounted “lantern slides” to the 35-mm film slides that we processed in-house, and then we went to computer graphics and PowerPoint. Same with video — when we started we had the old reel-to-reel, and three-quarter inch U-matic video cassette tapes to the VHS format to the DVDs, and of course, now it’s all virtual. I do miss many of my co-workers and the team of people at work but, at the same time, I’m glad to have retired because I’ve been able to devote more time to focusing on my diaconal ministry; which is especially important now that we have so many people feeling cut off from church because of the pandemic.

What can we do about that, as a Church?

There are so many people reluctant or unable to come back to Mass, especially seniors, and if they do come back they’re often very uncomfortable. The mental status of a lot of people is suffering from the stress. They want to talk, to pray; they want reassurance. In that regard, I’m glad I have the time to be there for the people. I have a strong affinity for the seniors because the Church was built on their shoulders and now a lot of them are feeling lost, isolated or left out. We need to keep them connected — they’re an integral part of our faith family.

What is one detail about you that might surprise people?

I’m a really shy, introverted type of guy. Yet, when people see me on the altar, preaching, conducting a workshop or just engaging with parishioners, they say I am outgoing, approachable, conversational, relaxed. Very different than how I perceive myself. I attribute that to the Holy Spirit. He’s giving me all the strength I need.

You and Linda are cruise lovers. What’s the best cruise you’ve been on?

We’re Disney fanatics. We’ve been on the Disney Cruise Line many times. It’s where everybody can be a kid. You can wear mouse ears and not feel intimidated — who’s going to see you?

Cruising has even inspired you spiritually, hasn’t it?

It brings a certain peace, awe and humility to me and a strong sense of gratitude. I feel God’s presence in that sunrise in the morning and the sheer vastness of the ocean. We’re just this tiny, tiny spot in this whole world, yet I know that God loves and cares for each one of us, and has gifted all of us with the beauty of his creation.

What are some hobbies you enjoy?

Linda and I really enjoy cooking together. Now that we’re home a lot, we’re trying new recipes. I also love big band music and jazz, Packers football, auto racing and reading a good mystery novel.

What’s a recipe you have really loved recently?

I call it Dcn. Greg’s “Pasta Dump.” I got it from Fr. Curt Frederick, our previous pastor at St. Dominic. He came over after Mass one Saturday and we were going out to dinner, but we were all tired and decided to stay in, even though we didn’t have any food in the kitchen. He said, “Come on, open up the pantry” and he started taking out all kinds of things — chopped artichokes and canned diced tomatoes — he threw this thing together and it was really good and there was no recipe, it was just what was in his head. I’ve taken that concept and made my Dump Pasta — you find what’s on the shelf, you chop some onions and garlic, and it all just seems to come together.

What’s a standout moment of your diaconate, if you had to pick just one?

I got to preside at the marriage of my daughter, Amy. It was really important to me to just be the father of the bride that day, but Amy said, “You know, dad, you’re also a deacon, that’s part of who you are, too.” So, I walked her down the aisle in my tuxedo, then rushed back into the sacristy to put the dalmatic on, and got back out into the sanctuary before the opening song was over. I’ve heard of other deacon dads presiding for their kids’ weddings, but not many have done a quick change like that.