As many of my regular readers know, earlier this year I was asked to become a regular guest on the Catholic Weekend show on SQPN. Having listened to a number of SQPN shows over the past several years, and made them a regular component of my weekly news and entertainment downloads, it was a great honor for me to be able to work with and contribute to their efforts to bring Catholic ideas and perspective to a wider audience. And one of the best things that has come out of my experience to date has been the privilege of working with Steve Nelson, Executive Director of SQPN.
Tomorrow will be Steve’s last regular appearance on Catholic Weekend, as he will be leaving the network to head off to Papua New Guinea, where he will be teaching at St. Fidelis College, a diocesan seminary run by the Capuchin friars. This is a bold and rather exciting step, but in a way it is not really surprising. Steve’s love for the Church, for encouraging the solid formation of young minds, and for aiding the developing world are all well-known to anyone who has enjoyed reading his blogs or listening to him speak.
Although I have been a public speaker of one sort or another for many years, from acting to lectoring, lobbying to lawyering, I can tell you that being on a podcast is something very different indeed. One of the things I have learned over the past year from Steve in working on Catholic Weekend is what we may call the Tao of Kenny Rogers: know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Being a lawyer, a conservative, and a half-Catalan, with a particular love for St. Dominic, I freely admit that I can, from time to time, bring down buckets of fire and brimstone if I am particularly incensed over some issue. It may very well be a genetic predisposition, since two fellow Catalans, St. Raymond of Penyafort and St. Vincent Ferrer, were both well-known as somewhat outspoken members of the Dominican Order.
That being said, there is a time and place for that sort of talk. What Steve has taught me personally from his example is the value of making an effort to take a breath and remember that a podcast is neither a courtroom nor a late night down at the pub. Because I argue for a living, I am usually trying to nail my ideological opponent to the wall. And in podcasting, while sometimes we can let loose and use the powers at our disposal, we also have an opportunity to speak gently but firmly in making our point, without shooting out our heat vision or the like. This is something which our beloved Pope Benedict himself does so very well, and I am grateful for the same reminder and example Steve gives of calling that to mind when needed.
Thus I hope you will consider tuning in as we record the show tomorrow, Saturday December 15th, beginning at around 10:30 am Eastern over on SQPN Live, or that you will download the episode later or watch it online. There will be many guests from the world of Catholic new media dropping in to wish Steve well, and sharing their stories of him. Those who know Steve from many personal interactions over the years – for example from his travels and adventures in Rome, Haiti, and elsewhere, or in his efforts organizing the hugely successful Catholic New Media Conference sponsored by SQPN, which grows in size and scope every year – will no doubt have a number of their own memories to share with you.
For my part my favorite (if admittedly a bit silly) memory of Steve’s time at SQPN was what I refer to as “The Betty Rubble Incident” on Catholic Weekend, from long before I joined the show. I will only tell you that you will have to go back through the show archive, and find that particular episode on your own. As always, Steve handled a rather unfortunate turn of events with the good-natured balance of humor and maturity, fun and seriousness, which he so often brings to the show, even as those around him who shall remain nameless fell into uncontrollable fits.
While I am sorry to see Steve go, I look forward to hearing tales of his new adventures serving God and His Church halfway around the world: ¡Que Dios te guarde, Esteban!