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Be Ready: Overcoming a Divided Life

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was preparing for a meeting with the Chicago priest consultors. Just like those other iconic moments in our history, from that day forward we would never be the same. ‘Terrorism’ would be a word that would be in our everyday vocabulary, and on the lips of every American.

Archbishop Listecki

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee


I was not born when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt talked about a day that would live in infamy. I remember my parents, who lived through World War II, speak of that day. In somber tones, news commentators would remember that historic day that drew America into a World War.

I was in my first year of high school seminary in religion class when the announcement came over the PA system that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. It was a moment when hopeful enthusiasm was destroyed, and our first Catholic president assassinated.

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was preparing for a meeting with the Chicago priest consultors. I was a baby auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago. I recently returned from introductory classes for new bishops in Rome. As I went to the front desk of my parish, St. Ignatius, the music director frantically stated, “Bishop, did you see the news? A plane crashed into the World Trade Center.”

We immediately turned on the TV, and as we watched the report on this apparent accident, a second plane smashed into the other tower. Then, there was an immediate sense that the United States was under attack, and that attack was taking place in our homeland. It brought down one of the tallest buildings in the continental United States. It seemed that no one was safe. 

Just like those other iconic moments in our history, from that day forward we would never be the same. ‘Terrorism’ would be a word that would be in our everyday vocabulary, and on the lips of every American. The society would adjust its behavior at airport facilities with TSA inspections, gates were now restricted areas to ticket holders only, train stations and large gatherings of people would suffer long lines so that bags and personal belongings could be examined. It changed our lives.

It has been 17 years since that fate-filled day. Our younger people rely only on the memories and experiences of adults to help them understand the impact of that day. They have not known anything different than the wars in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. TV, radio and newspaper commentators will offer their remembrance and pay tribute to those who have died in support of our freedoms and way of life.

One of the lessons we are all taught by these life-changing moments is that we must always be ready: ready to support our brothers and sisters, ready to defend our country and ready to meet our God.

My predecessor, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, established an annual lecture in 2003 referred to as the Pallium Lecture (the pallium is the lamb’s wool collar worn by the archbishop as a sign of the unity of the local Church with Rome). The lecture series was designed to engage the Catholic community in a discussion concerning a topic that affects the larger society.

Last year, we were fortunate to have a presentation by Dr. Michael Naughton (University St. Thomas of Minnesota) and Dr. Bill Bowman (Catholic University, Washington D.C.), both involved in their respective business schools. They addressed the topic “Beyond Career to Calling: Acting as Leaders in the Public Square Who Serve God.” Dr. Dan Scholz, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Cardinal Stritch University, served as moderator of the discussion. An interesting insight emerged from the discussion: “If you don’t get Sunday right, you’ll never get Monday right.”

This year, we hope to examine that insight with local Christian business leaders through a presentation called “Good Goods, Good Work, Good Wealth,” with featured guests Patrick McDevitt, President of Manufacturers Resources, Inc.; Joan M. Shafer, retired Executive Vice President - Human Resources and Organizational Management of WEC Energy Group; and Sharon deGuzman, Managing Director, Senior Portfolio Manager of Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. Dr. Dan Scholz will once again moderate the discussion.

How do we overcome the divided life?  How have these successful individuals integrated God, faith and good business practices into their everyday lives? If we get Sunday right, we will get Monday right.

9/11 reminds us that we must always be prepared to meet our God. By challenging ourselves to integrate our faith into our daily practices, there will be little doubt that we will be ready for the unexpected, and to respond for our good and the good of all.

Please join me on Tuesday, September 18 at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Stritch University, 6801 N. Yates Rd., Milwaukee. All are welcome to attend. For more details, visit

I hope to see you there, so that we can further our call to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Note: This blog originally appeared as the September 11, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.

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