“My whole priesthood has been canon law,” the Pewaukee resident explained. “Canon law is where I think theology and practice meet because it is the definition of the church in terms of the lives of our good people. Canon law is always a firm direction in terms of the church and the lives of the people and the church.
“To that degree, we are really enriched to have somebody like Archbishop Listecki and the background that he brings,” Fr. Klemme added.
Fr. Ralph Gross, pastor of St. Bruno Parish, Dousman, and former vice chancellor and chancellor for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, wasn’t surprised when Archbishop Listecki, based on his academic experience, was chosen to lead the Catholic community in southeastern Wisconsin.
“I was happy to hear that he would come to our archdiocese,” Fr. Gross said. “I think he’s going to be a good leader.”
While noting that canon law and civil law are distinct fields, the priest said that the two disciplines also have a mutuality.
“The fact that he is a canon lawyer and a civil lawyer, I can say, that does help articulate and help somebody analyze,” Fr. Gross said.
Jerry Boyle, a practicing attorney for the Boyle Law Group in Milwaukee who met Archbishop Listecki through his brother, Jesuit Fr. Patrick Boyle, said he understood the schooling the archbishop undertook to earn his civil law degree.
“First of all, you know I always say you don’t have to be a genius to be a lawyer; it’s common sense with a different vocabulary,” he laughed. “But he’s the former of that, and he’s going to bring his common sense.”
Boyle sees the dual law backgrounds will serve the archbishop well as he makes decisions regarding the archdiocese.
“When you have that training, it’s a wonderful attribute to have because so many of the decisions he has to make have to be balanced between civil law and church law,” Boyle said. “And who’s better to do it than someone who’s a canon lawyer and who studied and knows both sides of it?”
The attorney added, “Here we have a bishop now who’s a canon lawyer, a civil lawyer hand in hand. What possible training could there be to make someone as good as they can be?”
Fr. Boyle, who first taught with Archbishop Listecki at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill., in 1984, was impressed with how his friend related to and taught moral theology to students. It was this kind of authority that made him an excellent student of law, according to Fr. Boyle.
“He took command of the subject matter,” Fr. Boyle remembered. “He was very entertaining (to his students), and he related to the seminarians very well.”
Fr. Boyle, who continues to teach moral theology as an associate professor in the school’s department of Christian life, said that Archbishop Listecki will make a positive difference in Milwaukee.
“Certainly the canon law is going to be very important for his diocese,” he said regarding the type of law on which the archbishop will need to focus. “He is very well prepared.”
Fr. Thomas Brundage, a canon lawyer and priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who is serving as judicial vicar for the Archdiocese of Anchorage ,Alaska, became acquainted with Archbishop Listecki about 15 years ago.
“We used to serve on the court of appeals together in the state of Illinois – the canonical court of appeals,” Fr. Brundage said. “I noticed even back then that his experience is very vast, and very helpful for both the civil and the canonical point of view. I think it kind of helps to round out leadership abilities, because in today’s world you really need to know a lot about civil law and a lot about canon law in order to effectively lead.”