You were raised Catholic, of course, and educated by the Agnesian nuns at St. Joseph in Fond du Lac (now part of Holy Family Parish) — but your father was a convert. What was his story?
Dad was drafted at the end of WWII, and during that time, he met two wonderful Catholic Army chaplains. He was so impressed with them that when he came home in 1946, he took instructions from our parish priest, Fr. John Albinger, and became a Catholic in 1947. He was very supportive of me going to the seminary, as was mom, and dad told me, “I’ve been Lutheran, and now I am Catholic. I love both of my faiths, because they both brought me closer to Christ — and isn’t that what it is all about?” I’ve often mentioned this great quote to my non-Catholic friends.
When you were young, in grade school, did you think of becoming a priest?
In fact, I did. We had some wonderful priests at St. Joseph Parish, and I was truly inspired by them. In fact, one of our assistant priests, Fr. Joseph Hosch, even taught us boxing lessons on a Friday night in the parish gym.
You have a great love for Pope Francis and mention him frequently in your homilies.
I firmly believe we are so blessed with Pope Francis, because he is truly a man of the people. I really admire how he went to Iraq as a bridge-builder between Muslims and Christians this past March, and early in his papacy, in 2014, he visited Israel and both Jewish and Islamic leadership.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I ride my bike quite a bit, and the area where I live in Fredonia is great for that. I also have a workout room in my basement, and I use it every day. I love good movies, especially on the big screen, (and I) watch “60 Minutes” regularly and the daily evening news, but not any other regular TV programs. I read both the USA Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regularly, as well as our local weekly newspapers and a number of Catholic newspapers.
Can you tell us about your “mission of the mail?”
I try to respond to all letters and cards in a reasonable time, and I remain a great promoter of the portraits of the late George Pollard, especially his Three Faces of Christ and our Blessed Mother joyfully holding the Baby Jesus. Everybody loves his portrait of Vince Lombardi, too, and many other great sports figures, including Muhammad Ali. I’ve also added the posters of another artist, John Gehring, Kenosha, and his recent rendition of The Three Faces of Peter (Pope John XXIII, Pope John Paul II and our current Pope Francis).
Do you have any favorite books?
Obviously, the one in first place is my daily Breviary, the readings of daily and Sunday Masses, and I’m a great fan of St. Augustine and G.K. Chesterton. Any time I have a talk with college students, I highly recommend that for the rest of their lives they read faithfully anything by St. Augustine, especially his Confessions and also anything by Chesterton, particularly his classic book, ‘The Everlasting Man.'”
Who inspires you spiritually?
I am also a great fan of Mother Teresa and Padre Pio. In fact, I wear his bracelet constantly, which says, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.” I also continue to have great memories of wonderful Capuchins in my past life, especially Fr. Alexis Luzi and Fr. Martin Pable, and was truly honored that in my post-graduate work in mass communications, I was able to attend some wonderful Jesuit universities.
What is your favorite prayer?
I love the prayer for a happy death by Cardinal Neumann, now St. John Cardinal Neumann, and I also add a favorite prayer of my dear Mom, who died in my arms at the age of 83. She always had a rosary in her hand, and her favorite prayer to St. Joseph was her own. “Dear St. Joseph, grant me a holy and happy death, but not today!”