Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Many of the popular TV programs when I was growing up had theme songs, which identified their TV personas. “The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show” had, “Happy Trails (to you, until we meet again),” Gene Autry had, “(I'm) Back in the Saddle Again.” Perry Como would have a segment that started, “Letters, we get letters, we get stacks an' stacks of letters ... Dear Perry ...,” and then Perry would sing a popular song. Dinah Shore would sing, “See the USA in Your Chevrolet,” and then offer a big kiss to the viewing audience at the end of her performance. And, of course, the most famous theme song of my era was, “The Mickey Mouse Club,” which ended the show with, “M-I-C, See you real soon! K-E-Y, Why? Because we like you! M-O-U-S-E.”
As I begin my seventieth year on this planet, I think I should have a theme song for it. Perhaps, “Born to be Wild,” which would be great if I rode a Harley, but it’s hard to apply that theme to someone who has only ridden a moped on the mean streets of Rome. Maybe a line from the theme song of the “Chairman of the Board,” Mr. Frank Sinatra, “(I did it) My Way.” As independent as that theme conveys, I didn’t do it my way. Actually, I did it God’s way, and because of that, I have reaped the benefits of His direction, which I never would have achieved on my own.
But, this being my seventieth year, I think I might choose a Bob Hope favorite, “Thanks for the Memories.” Although Mr. Hope was singing about a past love in his life, I think that I can borrow the sentiment and apply it to the gifts that are the memories which make up my life. I am the person I am today because of the family and friends who have shared my life experiences, most of which were established and formed within the Church. Thanks to my parents, there was always a sense in my boyhood home that God was our first priority, and support for our Church was the norm.
I have said this before, and hopefully will continue to say it to my dying breath, “I love the Church.” It’s not the brick and mortar, but the living, breathing Body of Christ, composed of the believers who create family wherever and however a Catholic community is formed. Many of those precious memories, which have enriched my life, have been received through the Church — like friends who have become my family, and priests and bishops who have been my brothers, sharing the journey and inspiring me through their commitment. Various couples have shared their growth and formation of their families with me. I have been included as their friend and priest in the sacraments, in the celebration of anniversaries, in the profession of our faith, and when facing the loss of a loved one — when we have cried together, entrusting the souls of their loved ones to the hands of a loving God.
During my grammar school days, the women religious protected and encouraged my vocation through their prayers and examples, empowering me and my fellow students to take responsibility for our faith and the Church’s mission. Every Catholic organization, parish, seminary, diocese and archdiocese that I have been a member of here in the United States and throughout the world has contributed to the memories for which I am thankful.
So, now in my seventieth year, my theme, “Thanks for the Memories,” seems appropriate. In my Mass today, I will offer to God my gratitude for all the memories that have enriched my life, and also for you, my LOA community, who continue to contribute to the celebration of our love for the Church and our desire to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the March 12, 2019 "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.