Profiles in Catholicism
 
An Interview with Ryan Brady
 



by Eileen Quinn Knight. PhD


Return to Main Page


Dr. Knight:
 
 

 When you first considered your vocation, with whom did you discus it, and what was their advice?
 

Ryan:
 
  I wasnít an overly religious child growing up.  We attended Mass as a family but Iíd rather be Mayor of Chicago or baseball player than a priest!  As I learned more about the Catholic Church at Marist High School  in Chicago,  I began to feel drawn to ministry in the Church.  I was attracted to the Mass and to the Sacraments and knew God wanted me to be a priest.
     
Dr. Knight:   What did you do when you worked at Catholic Charities and did it influence your choice of vocation?
     
Ryan:





 
 

I worked in the Development Office at Catholic Charities.  Being in Development gave me the opportunity to see a ďsnap shotĒ of the diverse programs and areas of assistance that Catholic Charities provided.  Working at our main office at 721 N. LaSalle St. also gave me an appreciation for the volume of people who came to us.  I was able to see hundreds of people who came to us for food, clothing or shelter.  I also began to see them on the streets in the surrounding neighborhood.

 

The experiences at Catholic Charities left a very deep impression on me.  I knew God wanted me to be of service to my brothers and sisters in my own back yard.  I felt very much at peace working at Catholic Charities.  I believe that God called me there to be a forerunner of my mission as a priest.  God brought me to Catholic Charities to fall in love with the poor.  He called me to serve his people at Catholic Charities, then whispered in my ear Ö ďI need more of you.Ē  Without a doubt, I knew God was calling me to priesthood.

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What has been the most interesting course that you have taken to date and why?
 

Ryan:

 
  Iím new to seminary and I have taken a very small amount of classes.  As of now, my favorite course is Fundamental Theology.  Itís a wonderful class as we begin to dive into the mysteries of the Church.  We have discussed quite a bit the Church Fathers.  We have also discussed quite a bit the basic tenets of Catholicism.  Weíve read a fantastic book by Henri de Lubac, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man.
     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What was the most difficult course that your have taken to date and why?
 

Ryan:


 
  The most difficult course Iíve taken thus far is Latin.  Iím not very good at picking up languages.  Iíve studied Spanish in the past and have struggled.  One great tool I used while learning some basic Spanish was to listening to conversation.  I get to hear a lot of my Spanish-speaking classmates and friends converse and I catch some words that I understand and piece together the conversation.  I guess with languages, Iím more of an auditory learner.  Unfortunately, thatís not an option for Latin.  Iíve poured over my text books and dictionaries trying to memorize vocabulary, conjugations, declensions, etc. but itís not an easy task!
     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What can parishes do to help interest more people considering a vocation?
 

Ryan:




 
 

In my opinion, schools are very much a living and vibrant parish for the students.  Their focus is on forming young men and women as professionals in this world.  I would repeat what I said above about parishes.  Be vocal about priesthood and religious life.  When you see someone who would be a good religious or priest, say something!  Also create opportunities for these students to explore.  Invite vocation directors to campus.  Have them celebrate the sacraments with the community.  Have religious sisters involved in extracurricular activities or devotions.

Iíd stress to all students that no matter what their vocation in life, there are certain things that always apply.  There will be great peace in your heart that comes with answering Godís call, no matter where he is calling you.  Two things helped me discern and Iíd recommend them to others as well.  First: Pray, Pray, and Pray!  Second: Is a repeated phrase of St. John Paul II over and over and over again.  Nolite Timere!  Be Not Afraid!  If God wants me to be a priest or religious, Iíll know through prayer.  I have to have courage and know that Iím not walking alone.

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What can schools do to help interest people consider a vocation?
 

Ryan:





 
 

In my opinion, schools are very much a living and vibrant parish for the students.  Their focus is on forming young men and women as professionals in this world.  I would repeat what I said above about parishes.  Be vocal about priesthood and religious life.  When you see someone who would be a good religious or priest, say something!  Also create opportunities for these students to explore.  Invite vocation directors to campus.  Have them celebrate the sacraments with the community.  Have religious sisters involved in extracurricular activities or devotions.

Iíd stress to all students that no matter what their vocation in life, there are certain things that always apply.  There will be great peace in your heart that comes with answering Godís call, no matter where he is calling you.  Two things helped me discern and Iíd recommend them to others as well.  First: Pray, Pray, and Pray!  Second: Is a repeated phrase of St. John Paul II over and over and over again.  Nolite Timere!  Be Not Afraid!  If God wants me to be a priest or religious, Iíll know through prayer.  I have to have courage and know that Iím not walking alone.

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

Any thoughts about Steven Colbertís Midnight Confessions? 
 

Ryan:


 
  ím not a fan of late night TV.  Iím not a fan of TV in general.  I donít actually own a TV.  I know Stephen Colbert but I had to look up Midnight Confessions to figure it out.  The minute of the first video I saw was him cracking a joke saying, ďIím a staunch Catholic. But ever since I started this show, I often miss church because Iím so busy.  Instead of missing church because I donít want to go.Ē  (So much for staunch Catholic.  Whatever that might mean anyways)  I guess I just donít get that type of humor.  Maybe I could explore the comedy bit more, but I suspect it would confirm my suspicion that nothing on television after the 10:00 news is worth it.
     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What in your opinion are the factors that result young people leaving the church and what can we do to address these challenges?
 

Ryan:





 
  One of the challenges young people face when encountering the Church is the ďchallengeĒ.  Young people today are content living a ďspiritualĒ existence as long as they are calling the shots.  Iíve heard so many young people say that they have a great relationship with God.  Then they begin to describe Ďgodí as a being of their own creation.  They claim they donít need the Church to tell them right from wrong.  For multiple generations, the Church has done a poor job catechizing the faithful.  The modern explosion of relativism and Ďnew ageí spirituality is certainly the result of this.  The Church should reintroduce young people to the beauty of right ordered living.  The Church should reintroduce young people to the joy that comes with walking with God.  The Church should reintroduce young people to the beauty of living peacefully with God.  Young people shouldnít look to the Church (and the Church should be cautious to prevent this misunderstanding) as a stern authoritarian figure who wants to control the lives of people.  The Church is only interested in helping people live a life that will best allow them to experience the Truth and life lived closely with Jesus Christ.
     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What is your favorite Papal Encyclical and why?
 

Ryan:   My favorite encyclical was released in 1998 by Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio Fides et Ratio is Latin for Faith and Reason.  Many times we hear that faith and reason are incompatible but this is untrue.  Not only are they not incompatible, they are essential to each other for proper human understanding and formation.  Faith without reason leads to blind superstition.  Reason without faith leads to relativism or nihilism.  Philosophy and Theology are both looking in the same direction, they attempt to answer the same questions.  Namely, questions about our own existence, the existence (and purpose) of the world, and the terms in which the world exists.
     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

Who is your favorite saint and why?
 

Ryan:






 
 

My favorite saint isnít technically a saint (yet)!  Heís Fr. Solanus Casey, OFM Cap. He was a Capuchin priest who served most of his long life in Detroit.  His beatification will take place November 18th in Detroit.  Fr. Solanus came from a big Irish immigrant family.  He was one of 16 children raised in Northern Wisconsin.  He originally entered diocesan seminary but struggled.  The courses were taught in Latin at that time and the class discussions were in German to accommodate the large German immigrant population at the seminary.  He left seminary and worked a series of odd jobs.  He even met a young lady and proposed marriage, only to be turned down by the young ladies mother who thought her daughter had higher prospects then young Mr. Casey. 

Eventually, after praying a novena to the Immaculate Conception, Fr. Solanus heard Our Lady clearly tell him, ďGo to Detroit.Ē  Detroit was the home of the Capuchin Franciscans.  On July 24, 1905 Fr. Solanus was ordained a priest.  For the next 52 years Fr. Solanus served Godís people humbly as a Ďsimplex priestí.  His priesthood was lived in heroic simplicity.  He quickly gained a reputation for holiness, his ability to work wonders and lastly for his abilities as a spiritual counselor.  He was particularly known for his care for the poor and the sick.

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What are the most pressing societal challenges that we face in the United States and why?
 

Ryan:







 
 

One of the most pressing challenges the United States finds for itself is the destruction of the family.  The family is the primary place of formation and growth.  The family is where we learn of faith, morals, respect, love.  Without this education, weíre sunk!  Matthew Kelly is a Catholic motivational speaker.  Many of his talks are very encouraging and prudent for our society.  He has termed this generation as ďThe Generation of the Abdication of Responsibility.Ē  Iíd have to agree.  Iíd almost go further, Iíd say this is ďThe Generation of Abdication in General.Ē  Society seems to be renounced everything that has gone before it.  Faith, Family, Responsibility, Duty, Care for Others, Mercy Ö heck, even civility has been abdicated for selfishness and self-absorption.  Itís a challenge to look at society today and feel anything but sorrow.

I do believe that Christ will carry the day!  Goodness and truth always win out.  Men and women of good will need to bravely speak out for truth, for justice, for peaceÖ. For love.  They will bravely speak out.  When the world has tasted all the delights that modernism provides and still finds that they need more, I hope they look to Christ and realize that no matter how many times you go to the well with Christ, you will always desire more.  Christ is ďthe way, the truth, and the life.Ē (Jn 14:6)  For a culture that desperately seeks truth yet searches in all the wrong places, Christ is patiently waiting for their return.

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What can we do to help protect Immigrants?
 

Ryan:







 
 

I come from a family of immigrants.  Over the last 10 years, my cousin moved to this country from Ireland.  She actually moved here illegally and had to go through many obstacles to correct her situation.  This included moving back to Ireland for a time.  Eventually, she worked hard to get all of her documents in order.  Sheís since moved her legally and has applied for US Citizenship.  Not every immigrant has the ability to jump through all of these hoops.  I believe what we can do to best protect immigrants is to give them the opportunity and the tools to move to this country without fear and under the cover of darkness.  There needs to be greater order and clarification (and less red tape) from our Government regarding immigrants and the path to legal residency or citizenship.   

Our Country is an amazing place.  Winston Churchill once described democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.  I would almost apply that to America as well.  We are far from perfect.  Our immigration laws are a mess and need to be cleaned up, made more clear and fair for those wishing to come to this country.  But if we look across the globe, America is still the most welcoming and accepting country in the world.  We have our faults.  We have our weaknesses but we also should be proud of who we are and the way in which govern ourselves and welcome others.  America has the worst and least welcoming immigration process, except for all the others. 

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

What to date has been you favorite film and why?
 

Ryan:
















 
  My favorite film is probably The Wind that Shakes the Barley.  Itís an Irish film that portrays two Irish brothers who joined the Irish Republican Army in 1920.  The film follows the brothers during the war for independence and the subsequent horrors of the Irish Civil War.  Itís a gripping story of men who fought for freedom, then fought themselves to determine what that freedom would look like.

     
Dr. Knight:
 
 

Who is your favorite sports team and why?
 

Ryan:



 
  Iím a White Sox fan.  Iíve been a White Sox fan all of my life.  But I have a soft spot in my heart for the Cubs.  My grandmothers were both Cubs fans.  My family is split between Cubs and Sox fans and it makes for a bit of fun and good natured teasing.  But my heart lies with the White Sox.  They have always been an underdog and often overlooked, even in their own town.  I love the toughness and the scrappiness of the organization.  Throughout the history of the organization they have (almost) always had teams right in the playoff hunt.  Unfortunately, or tragically, theyíve typically fallen just short.  I am glad that I was able to witness and appreciate a World Series win in 2005.  I am excited to watch the current rebuild bear fruit in the coming years.  The past decade has been a bit difficult to watch but the near future looks VERY exciting.