Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, September 29, 2005

My interview with our Bishop...

Well, it's taken some time to process the whole experience, because I wanted to blog about the interview, but not about the topic of the story I was assigned to write.

Not that it wasn't an interesting topic -- I interviewed Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln about the Vatican-ordered Apostolic Visitation of Seminaries and Houses of Priestly Formation. It's the most "dicey" topic I've been givin in my four months with the paper, and I guess that means that Fr. B trusts me to handle such issues appropriately. The story should be published and distributed today/tomorrow, and if anybody is interested, I'll post the text here.

But what I really wanted to blog about is something that I haven't quite been able to put into words.

In the first place, regardless of what you impressions you may have gathered from the media at large, Bishop Bruskewitz is a very personable man. He is from Wisconsin, where my brother and his wife live, where I myself lived for a short time, and the Bishop has a very Wisconsin-way of conversing with you. He is a straight-forward, amiable, look-you-in-the-eye, thoughtful and intelligent conversationalist. He has a killer vocabulary and the extent of his education and knowledge is evident, but his phrasing is so accessible, he never makes you feel inferior.

What really struck me about the Bishop, though, was that there was something intrinsically different about his personality. It took me some time to realize what it is: obedience. Bishop Bruskewitz is a man who is completely obedient to Christ, to the Church and to the Pope. Which is what he should be, of course, but it's just not something you run into every day. Most people in the U.S. -- okay, at least here in the Plains and in the Midwest, where I grew up -- are "self-made." They pride themselves on their independence, their way of making decisions that suit themselves, their families, their careers best. Most people practice self-actualization, not obedience. So there is something "old-world" or maybe "other worldly" about Bishop Bruskewitz.

He's the first Bishop I have ever met, so I don't know if he's just like all the other bishops or different in some way. He is in no way prideful or superior, even with his position as Bishop. If I asked a question that he didn't have an answer for, he simply said "I have no idea."

And speaking of that, he's going into the two Apostolic Visitations that he is chairing with a completely open mind. He doesn't know what he will find at the two seminaries. He won't speculate. He will operate on the Instrumentum Laboris drafted by the Vatican to guide the visitation program, down to the letter. He and his committe will draft their report without discussing it with anybody else (as ordered by the Holy See), ship it to the Vatican and let the Congregation for Catholic Education do what it must.

Although, if I may hazard a guess, once all the visits are made, and all the reports filed, processed and responded to, and once the general statement regarding the state of U.S. seminaries and houses of priestly formation is issued by the Vatican, I believe Bishop Bruskewtiz can be counted on for commentary.


P.S. I carefully avoided calling him "Your Excellency," because I was nervous enough that I was afraid I'd get tongue-tied and it would come out in some comical error. I also avoided saying, "Your Grace" -- which I was confident I could pronouce correctly -- because it seemed...well, too European. He didn't seem to expect either address and was perfectly comfortable with me asking questions like, "Why do you think you were selected by the Holy See for this role?"

His answer to that was, "I have no idea...except for the fact that I am something of a 'known quantity' because I worked for the Congregation of Catholic Education for many years and I am blessed to have had a long friendship with Pope Benedict XVI."


  • I wish that I could have been a fly on the wall for that interview!

    By Blogger alicia, at 12:59 PM  

  • I wish you could have just been sitting next to me, Alicia.

    By Blogger Sparki, at 3:16 PM  

  • Congratulations, Sparki, sounds like it went great!

    Our bishop seems similar, though I have less experience with him than you, haven't even really met him myself. He seems like someone you could imagine being a married father and grandfather -- which is probably a good quality in a priest/bishop since they are spiritual fathers (though I wouldn't want to suggest that anyone who seems more... like a mystic or something can't be a great priest.)

    By Anonymous ro, at 2:04 AM  

  • less experience with him than you have with yours I meant

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:04 AM  

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    By Blogger Jim Naka, at 10:13 PM  

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