Take 5 with Abp. Listecki: Dick Butkus, Marquette and Pope Benedict

M. Cherif Bassiouni
1. Who is a hero in your life?

If everybody realizes I have a number of priests, men and women religious, bishops, popes who are heroes, if we could push that off to the side, then I can talk about a few others:

M. Cherif Bassiouni, Emeritus Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago

He was my criminal law professor as well as my international law professor and Sharif was instrumental in the collaboration for the constitution of the International Criminal Court of Justice, part of United Nations. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

He was a man who always had clear vision, always respected the law and always presented himself in a manner to all of the students with a level of reasonability and so it was always a joy to go into his class because you were treated with the respect that sometimes other teacher-student relationships were not always given.

Minnie Oresta Minoso, a White Sox ball player who was one of the first people of color to enter into Major League Baseball. Not only was he extremely talented, but he had a joy about the sport that was just contagious. He’s one of the few ballplayers to ever play in five decades of the sport.

When I was receiving my first holy Communion, I asked for one gift. It was an autographed baseball of my favorite player, Minnie Minoso, and my Uncle (Sylvester) who was a police officer and my sponsor at confirmation, had friends who worked “the dugout” and they got me a ball signed by Minnie, which was really cool.

Dick Butkus, middle linebacker, Chicago Bears, 1965-1973

He was a person who was raised in the community right next to mine on the south side of Chicago. I would occasionally see him at Russell Square Park, when he was in high school playing, as he became a legend in the NFL. The wonderful thing about Butkus is his talent was so superior that it modeled the intensity of professional football, but at the same time, he never pounded his chest to talk about how great he was.

In high school, I had a number of really wonderful teachers, but one who made an impact on me was a person by the name of Harold Hild.

He had a special creative writing class in the minor seminary that only a number of individuals got an invitation to be a part of; I was fortunate enough to be a part of that class, and he introduced us to an appreciation of literature and the development of our own ability to write creatively that I’m forever grateful to.

He was a wonderful teacher who inspired a love for his subject.

Abraham Maslow, a famous psychologist, had a theory called self actualization and he had a whole list of criteria of people he believed to be self actualized, and there were some that posited that this is a rarity.

Well, I really challenge that because I met a lot of self actualized people, individuals who because of the integration of faith into their lives have lived this life with a larger vision than just what they can get out of it and that includes my family, my friends, individuals who have been my students, my teachers, and they become my heroes for what they contribute to me in giving me the enthusiasm that I have about life and about my faith.

2. What’s a memorable moment you shared with Pope Benedict XVI?

When we had the ad limina, being the archbishop of the metropolitan (in the Wisconsin Province), I have the lead in terms of addressing the pope. I’m sitting here and the pope is sitting there (across from him).

He was very gracious and greeted every one of us and when I came in they said, ‘This is Archbishop Listecki from Milwaukee, your holiness.’ And he looked at me and he says, ‘Oh, Milwaukee,’ he says, ‘Marquette, huh?’ and the pope had visted Marquette, so it was immediately a connection for him about his time. [Alright, who's got the scoop on this visit??!?]

He was a scholar so he was invited to give an address there and he remembered that time. So, there was a real sense of I know where you live, from the pope. It put a smile on both of our faces as it did to the other bishops in the room.
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