1. As a lawyer, what is your favorite law movie?
My favorite law movie would be “Man For All Seasons.” My sense is lawyers get a bad rap already to begin with and so it’s nice to see what ultimately (is) the principle that they stand for, and Thomas More kind of depicts that. Also, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” because there is the sense of the dignity of the lawyer who serves his client and his people, and who is able to kind of even challenge the system when the system fails to respond to human dignity. Those two would kind of stand over and above all the rest.
When any lawyer watches law movies, what you do is you suspend what you learned in law school and what you learned in the profession because you realize that most of the law, and most lawyers would tell you this immediately, is not done with the high drama that oftentimes is depicted in movies and sensationalized on television, but actually done in the very mundane things of drawing up contracts, of making sure you get people to agree on things, to make sure that people are protected by the law in (transferring) of property or in establishing things like trusts, so those are very mundane things, but what they are is they’re a service to people making sure that they abide by the law, but also making sure that the law is there to protect them.
2. What is your favorite sweet treat?
Ice cream’s always a favorite of mine. I like custard and of course I’m a fan of Leon’s, everybody knows that, so I hit Leon’s ocasionally – that’s a wonderful treat.
In fact, when I have people from out of town and we’ll go out to dinner at one of the restaurants, we don’t have dessert. I put them in the car and we go over to Leon’s for custard, so and it gives them a flavor, a little bit of Milwaukee and kind of the city life and everybody who is there.
I’ll never forget one time, in fact, I had the head of the communication department of the Vatican, Archbishop Celli came in and he was staying with me, and he said, “I want to experience a little bit of Milwaukee because,” he says, “I come into a city, I give a talk and they put me on a plane and I leave.”
So, we had a light, little dinner at my house and then I said, “Now get in the car and I’ll drive you around,” and I drove him around the city and into the city, kind of looking at the various buildings and the architecture and then coming back we stopped at Leon’s, and there I was with the head of the communication department, the former liaison to China, for the Vatican, and myself eating custard at Leon’s with everybody else, and he loved it and I loved it, too.
It was a great way to kind of show off the city a little bit.
3. What piece of advice do you remember and from whom, from when you were first entering the priesthood?
It was from a Franciscan who was a priest, who actually was in grammar school with my dad , and I was 14 at the time thinking about where I should go.
There were a lot of recruiters – the Oblates, the Franciscans, the Carmelites, the Salesians – were all recruiting heavily in my very kind of ethnic-based parish, and so they knew that these were individuals, children, from really good, solid families, very Catholic oriented, so they were challenging us to think in terms of priesthood and I would go to the various minor seminaries, because minor seminaries were very big during that time and then, of course, there was Quigley, the archdiocesan seminary.
And I remember kind of trying to ponder where I should go. And I remember the great piece of advice – he says, “It doesn’t matter where you go, just make sure you’re a good priest.” It kind of freed me to be able to then make my decision.
I made my decision for the diocese to serve the diocesan priesthood, but it kind of freed me to understand the hand of God.
4. In what ways do you live green or preserve the environment?
I do what everybody else does – I separate cans, and plastic and bottles. But for me appreciating the green environment is very, very important.
I know we do everything to kind of save the environment, but I think when you appreciate the environment, then it kind of leads you to want to do more to preserve it and so for me, a big thing is feeding the birds. And Bishop Sklba knows I like to do that, so he gave me three big bags of birdseed type of thing so we make sure that the birdseed is out in my backyard for the birds that are there, and we’ve got a little feeder also in the back of the garage that we try to put stuff out ocasionally for them.
5. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from coaching basketball in Rome?
Coaching basketball in Rome was a little different than coaching basketball in the states. The difference is the quality of European basketball has really gone up and you can see many of the European players now playing in the NBA, but at that time, the sense of basketball was pretty much, “a non-contact sport,” and anybody who’s played basketball – and I’ve got bruises and a bad hip and everything else to demonstrate it – knows it isn’t really a non-contact sport.
There’s a lot of contact that goes on and so the aspect was to get the group to be more aggressive, not dirty in any sense, but to be more physical about their play, and the more physical about their play, the better they would perform. That goes into life itself. Sometimes, we can’t remain passive and just assume that everybody’s going to know what we’re doing or how we’re doing.
So there is a sense of us that sometimes has to be very active and engaging people so that people know that we’re interested in what we’re doing, we’re very committed to what we’re doing and we’re going to keep on doing it. Take a look at the Apostles even, take a look at them from the scared Apostles that were in the upper room at Pentecost and take a look at the ones that suddenly gave their life, and were out there in front of everyone.
They had to aggressively engage the culture about who this Jesus Christ was and not be afraid, because as John Paul II said, do not be afraid because you’re standing with the truth and you’re standing with the Lord, and your statement helps other people. So, if you want to pull it back to basketball, it’s an aspect of understanding that there is a need to be more committed in what you’re doing, whether that’s physical or intentional or whatever.