Editor’s Note: Matthew Chicoine interviewed Father Richard Libby via phone call on May 31st, 2023. Some of the questions have been rearranged and edited to provide the best reader experience without losing any integrity of the answers given.
How would you describe your personal journey of faith and what led you to become a Catholic priest?
My journey of faith started when I was born. I was born into a devout Catholic family. They raised us in the Church. My parents made the sacrifices needs to send all six of us to Catholic school from K-12.
I graduated from a Catholic campus. When I was college, I took a theology course and it really started to get me interested in theology. It started me on a journey of getting closer to Church. It started to become a vocation (who I’m meant to be).
God is persistent. He kept after me. It reached a point I knew I had to join the seminary.
I wasn’t certain about my calling to the priesthood. However, at that point, I was certain about joining the seminary.I applied and was accepted in six months. Overall, my journey through the seminary went relatively smooth.I attended Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas for philosophy, and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia for theology. I was ordained on June 5th, 1999.
As a priest, what challenges have you encountered in the modern world within the Catholic Church? How do you propose addressing these challenges?
The biggest challenge we have is people having an incorrect, understanding of God and His Church.
Some people believe God will forgive them no matter what and there’s no need for religion. On the other extreme is why would God allow pain and suffering.
The concept of evangelization is central to the Catholic faith. How do you think the Church can effectively spread the Gospel and engage with people today?
One thing that the Church does well is doing the corporal works of mercy so we can believe in the spiritual works of mercy. A powerful way to evangelize. The Church being there with people in their time of need.
We need to look for people in need. Pope Francis focuses on this and that’s why people talk about him a lot. Priests who have the smell of sheep. (quote) The church was there when my father died or when I was hungry.
One of the things that caught my attention is how you embrace the Catholic faith. You didn’t qualify it with an adjective. You were simply Catholic…and bonus you were a curmudgeon about the faith.
(Laughs) Yes, I’m not a curmudgeon. We can find joy in this life.
Describe the place of humor in evangelization.
C.S. Lewis, “Joy is a serious business of Heaven.” People want to be around people who are joyful. We long for Heaven but in the meantime we can laugh. My own bishop tells stories at his own expense and makes us laugh. We as Catholics are joyful. Laughter is an expression of happiness but why can’t it also be an expression of joy.
God does have a sense of humor; he made the duck-billed platypus.🦆🦫 Humor can also lead someone who is grieving through laughter. It helps in the healing process.
Thank you for your time, Father Richard! It was great chatting with you. Let’s do this again!
Absolutely! That’s chat soon.
About Father Richard Libby:
Father Richard Libby is a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, where he serves as pastor of St. Helena Parish and as the chancellor of the diocese. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing poems and short stories, and birdwatching.