ST. FRANCIS — Four days after Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki underwent a heart procedure at Milwaukee’s Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital, he was “on the job” in Pewaukee attending a Catholic Stewardship Appeal event.
The following morning, he celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Assumption at Holy Assumption Parish, West Allis, and the remainder of the week included a confirmation for a young man and a Mass and blessing of a parish shrine at St. Dominic Parish, Brookfield.
The procedure, insertion of a cardiac stent to widen one of the 63-year-old archbishop’s arteries, did little to slow the archbishop, his chief of staff, Jerry Topczewski, told your Catholic Herald on Monday.
“He feels good, maybe tires a little more quickly, but I wouldn’t see that large of an impact on his calendar,” said Topczewski, explaining that he expects the archbishop to resume his normal schedule after Labor Day. From last Sunday to today, he’s been on retreat in Mundelein, Ill., with the other bishops from Region VII and then will take a previously scheduled vacation, explained Topczewski.
“He was in last Monday, I think to reassure people that he’s fine. He looks great, and hopefully a little ‘R and R’ will do him more good and he’ll be ready to go,” he added.
In his weekly “Love One Another” email communication with priests, staff and members of the archdiocese, the archbishop wrote that he awoke on Friday (Aug. 10) with upper chest discomfort.
“Initially, I really wasn’t concerned because I’d experienced this discomfort for the previous three days; attributing these warning signs to those crazy stones that I generate without a gall bladder. When the discomfort didn’t subside within the hour, I decided to seek medical attention,” he wrote.
Archbishop Listecki explained that he drove himself to Columbia St. Mary’s emergency room and requested an EKG.
He wrote that he was surprised to learn the issue was not related to gall stones, but rather was heart related.
“When I told the medical staff about my plans to attend the Sikh memorial service the next day, they kindly, yet firmly advised against an early release,” he wrote.
Diagnostic testing revealed an arterial blockage which required a heart catheterization. Dr. Joan Gnadt performed the procedure, he wrote, and fitted him with a stent.
“Now – thanks to this procedure – when my friends claim that I am ‘heartless’ I have solid medical evidence and even pictures to prove them wrong,” he joked in the email.
The archbishop wrote that he was disappointed to have missed the Sikh memorial service, but said his “prayers were with them that day and forever more.”
In his absence, Bishop Donald J. Hying and Fr. Pat Heppe, vicar for ordained and lay ecclesial ministry, represented the archdiocese at the memorial service.
The archbishop said this experience taught him a “valuable lesson worth sharing – don’t ignore warning signs. Yes, our schedules are very important, but when we see our neighbors and even ourselves in any kind of distress, we need to read the signals and take action as we fulfill the Lord’s command to Love One Another.”
According to Topczewski, Archbishop Listecki has a “fairly health conscious diet and a fairly regular exercise routine” so he will likely continue his “normal, healthy lifestyle.”
‘I think what the archbishop would want people to know is that he feels great, he appreciates everybody’s concerns and prayers, of course. He’s recovering and is doing what the doctor asked him to do to continue to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Topczewski, adding, “I really don’t see any future impact on his day to day schedule or plans that would prevent him from doing anything. He’s going to look forward to being out with the people as he always has.”