FOND DU LAC — Milwaukee’s 11th archbishop had nearly 500 people laughing as he began his homily during his third welcome Mass, held Jan. 19 at Holy Family Parish.
“I probably shouldn’t confess this to you, but I’m terrible with directions,” Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki said to the crowd, describing his sense of direction “sort of like you go up two blocks, you take a right, there’s a Kwik Trip … go up about 15 feet, take that road until you find a green mailbox and there, that’s the place you want to go.” But with the help of his Garmin global positioning system, the archbishop said a little female voice tells him where to go and if he ever makes a wrong turn she says, “Recalculating. Recalculating.”
“This is a wonderful piece of technology, except it can’t do one thing,” the archbishop said. “It can tell you where to go from point A, but you have to put in where you are going,” which he related to the many people at the Mass coming from different parishes, but all with the same destination.
“We all have one final destination and that is to be united with our Lord, our God,” Archbishop Listecki said. “Everything that we do, every motion that we take, all the aspects of sacredness are to achieve that final destination.”
Watch/Listen to Archbishop E. Listecki’s Jan. 19 homily at Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac. (part one)
Videos submitted courtesy Matthew Rodenkirch, communications assistant, Holy Family Parish, Fond du Lac.
The archbishop reminded those gathered that sometimes they will hear voices telling them to “recalculate” and to “get in that confessional” to wipe away the obstacles that get in the way of a closer relationship with God.
He also added that while they may have come to “check out the new archbishop” and to see what he’s like, if he’s funny and find out what kind of leader he will be, the Mass meant much more. “Believe me, you’re missing it if you don’t realize we’re here tonight for the one who leads all of us, the one who is our ultimate destination and, although, together we might be celebrating new leadership – it’s his leadership that offers us our ultimate destination through the sacrifice of his life,” the archbishop said.
It’s the archbishop’s humor mixed with the message that has Selma Brophy, 72, a member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Ripon, believing that he will be an interesting and insightful leader. “(He) has a lot of spirituality, but he mixes it with humor, which is very, very good,” said Brophy, who felt it was important that she attend Mass to welcome the archbishop. “It brings the point home.” Though it was her first time meeting Archbishop Listecki, Brophy said he seems “warm,funny and delightful.”
Bill Kartheiser, 59, also a member of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, came to the Mass as one of the nine honor guards of the Fond du Lac fourth degree assembly.
“I think he’s going to have the full support of everybody,” Kartheiser said when asked about the archbishop’s leadership of the Milwaukee Archdiocese. “I can’t imagine anybody not backing the guy – it’s going to be very exciting.”
Kartheiser described the archbishop, whom he met once at a Knights of Columbus convention when the former La Crosse bishop was traveling with former Archbishop of Milwaukee Timothy M. Dolan, as “very likeable” and a “very friendly, come-on-and-meet-me type.”
“As long as he can recruit more priests, he’ll have her made,” he said, adding that he hopes the archbishop will be around for a long time.
Elizabeth Luedtke, 33, and her sister Ellie Frey, 27, members of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, traveled to the Mass from Beaver Dam with two of Luedtke’s three children and one of Frey’s four children.
“We wanted our kids to experience this celebration because it will be something they will remember for years to come,” Luedtke said, adding that it was nice to attend a weekday Mass, something that’s usually not possible because the children are in school.
Though Luedtke said they came to see the archbishop, she said she liked how he redirected everyone in attendance to the main focus of Mass.
“We’re all excited to see him, but we really did need to regroup and remember why we’re at Mass,” she said. “Just reminding us of our final goal was pretty good, too. I mean, obviously, we all need to keep that on the forefront of our minds that this is not our home.”
“Not our destination,” Frey added.
Luedtke looks forward to seeing the “fruits of his labor.”
“We were just discussing how it’s quite a position for anyone to have to walk into and we don’t know how anybody without, of course, the help of the Holy Spirit could ever handle all the responsibilities,” Luedtke said. “I mean just look at what he’s doing now, standing there greeting like hundreds of people and with a smile on his face.”
Mary Moul, 47, a member of Holy Family Parish, and mother of nine children who attend Fond du Lac Catholic schools, said she is also looking forward to an archbishop whom she views a “strong leader,” because of his reverence for the Eucharist and his orthodox, strong faith and backbone.
“(That’s) something that our faith, our Catholic faith, needs right now with society the way it is,” Moul said. “We need somebody like that that’s strong and can handle it.”
In the three-to-five minutes that Moul and her daughter had with the archbishop, she talked to him about the need for the Theology of the Body in schools, how she prayed for vocations among her children and he blessed her and her daughter’s cross necklaces.
“He cares,” Moul said. “I mean, and when he talks, he talks to you – it’s not like he’s worried about hurrying up to get through the next people.”
Deacon Ricardo Muñoz, 67, a member of Holy Family Parish, who works part-time with the Hispanic community, met and experienced that time described by Moul at a Jan. 16 Mass at St. Adalbert Church, Milwaukee.
“There (were) over 1,200 Hispanics there (at St. Adalbert) and he did not deny anyone a shaking of the hands and that, to me, says a lot about the gentleman that, yes, he cares – he wants to meet them. He wants to meet the people and he wants to be their archbishop,” Deacon Muñoz said.
The deacon, who will celebrate 29 years in the diaconate in June, also said he likes the way that the seemingly personable archbishop gathered everyone’s attention in the homily by incorporating today’s technology into the readings.
“I like people to tie what we have today with what we had yesterday and what does it mean for us tomorrow, and I thought he did a very nice job,” he said.
While Deacon Muñoz heard about the archbishop before he came to Milwaukee from his son and daughter-in-law who live in Wausau, he chose to make his own decision about his new leader. When his daughter-in-law called him as soon as news spread that the La Crosse Diocese would “lose” the former bishop to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, “She called me and she says, ‘How sad – you guys are going to love him. He’s such a wonderful person. He’s such a wonderful man. He’s such a people’s man,’ and that’s what she told me,” Deacon Muñoz said. “…but I told her ‘Let me meet him – let me talk to him and then I’ll make up my mind,’ and he has been everything she said.”