1) Mike, how are you an average Catholic?
I think I have my own frustrations and things I like and dislike about the church and liturgy. Mostly, I think I try to live a faithful life the best I can..as most people do.
2) What is your favorite word?
Chihuahua. Mostly because I have an unhealthy obsession with my dog. But I’ve always thought it was a fun word.
3) What is your least favorite word?
Poverty. Too many people are judged by their economic status.
4) What sound or noise do you love?
A tie between a saxophone and a violin.
5) What sound or noise do you hate?
Someone whining for no reason.
6) What is your favorite book?
I can’t pick one. A recent one is Tattoos of the Heart by Greg Boyle. He really captured the inner-city and the gang members he’s served so well. Native Son by Richard Wright was one I loved in High School. Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt is another one that I love since my dad is from Ireland, even though the Irish hate it.
7) Do you have a particular Catholic role model?
My father. He’s always lived his faith through simple works for others. He was a school custodian, now retired, but was always serving the needs of others with a smile on his face. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word “complaint.” On his 80th birthday, he offered the following quip: “God doesn’t owe me a thing!” That’s a truly faith-filled person and I wish I were more like him.
8) What is your favorite movie?
I really liked 500 Days of Summer recently. Another recent movie is “Once” about two musicians who become each other’s muse. I’m a big Pixar fan. Monsters Inc and Up were two of my favorites. Older movies are Hoosiers, Fantasia, A Few Good Men, On the Waterfront and The Sound of Music.
9) What music is in your car disc-player right now?
I usually just listen to NPR honestly. (How boring am I?) But I have a Dave Brubeck Jazz CD in there now.
10) What TV shows do you watch regularly?
How I Met Your Mother is a big favorite. Friday Night Lights was the best show I’ve seen in ages. A shame they couldn’t find a time slot.
The Office, The Big Bang Theory, Rules of Engagement, 30 Rock, Mad Men. I also often watch shows like Seinfeld, Sports Night and the West Wing in reruns.
I also play Mystery Science Bachelorette with my wife and her friends on Mondays and like the occasional game show.
11) What did you want to be when you grew up?
A major league baseball broadcaster. Came close. I covered the World Series for NPR and WOR and WFAN. I was a regular beat guy for the home games of both New York teams but I really wanted to do play by play for the Mets. I miss sitting in the press box but not much else.
12) How old were you when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?
28. Ha! That’s when I realized that radio and sports wouldn’t ultimately satisfy me and I examined what I really liked about my life and the retreat I ran were at the top of that list. I got lucky merging my media and ministry skills together at Busted Halo.
13) What do you like most about what you are doing now?
What don’t I like is a shorter answer. I like being the chaplain at the med school and doing spiritual direction with the Catholic Volunteers of Buffalo and doing FACET inventories with engaged couples with my wife, which I consider young adult ministry. Retreats are always a favorite thing for me.
14) Have you ever said something or done something that was outside the boundaries of Church rules because you knew it was the right thing?
When my friend Patrick was dying, I visited him and when I was about to leave he asked me for “my blessing” as one would properly ask a priest or deacon. I originally refused but then saw how disappointed he was going to be and how he really needed to be comforted. So I laid my hands on him and gave him The Irish Blessing. I knew it was the right thing to do, pastorally speaking and I think God is OK with it too. Hey, we say God bless you when someone sneezes.
15) Have you ever not said something or not did something because you were afraid you might get in trouble with the Church?
I’m sure I have. The one that sticks out for me is from my younger days. I suspected that a parish priest was a predator but never saw him do anything to anyone or to me. He nuzzled his head on my shoulder once after he had a one glass of wine too many when I was about 16 and my spidey-sense tingled. Turns out he was in fact a predator. I’m not sure if he abused any of our parishioners but he had done a lot to other boys in another place. I wish I had the guts to have said at least that I thought he was a bit inappropriate back then.
16) Do have any regrets in life?
Hurting friends, not calling and caring for my parents all that well sometimes. I hurt a high school friend pretty badly once and felt terrible about it. We patched it up but it was one of those moments that you just can’t take back.
17) What is the spiritual idea that keeps you going?
Communion. That we are united with the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper and with every person who has ever received communion. God literally unites us in the Eucharist and reminds us that we are all made for unity with God and each other. I’d also say gratitude is one that keeps me going daily.
18) What idea do you think is the most important idea right now for the Church to be talking about?
The power of forgiveness. We tend to harbor resentments which only leads to more violence. Liberals and conservatives need to get past the back-biting and begin to unite in whatever way they can. I’m pretty good at that, listening to both sides and understanding their point of view and then living in the dynamic tension of agreeing and disagreeing with some but remaining in the family.
19) What life advice would you give to a young person if she asked you?
God is guiding you to happiness and fulfillment if you just bother to pay attention to what brings you life each day. I’d also suggest that they do the Ignatian examen daily.
20) What brings you joy?
My dog! It’s amazing how much I’ve learned from this animal but he’s taught me to live with boundless joy, to rejoice with every meal, to run to a door to greet those I love and to forgive without question or holding onto resentment.
21) What are you most looking forward to?
My 10th wedding anniversary in April 2012, the upcoming semester and completing my second book. It’s going to be a great year.
Mike Leach’s blog is coming to an end, so check him out before he goes away.