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Michael Leach: Why I Stay Catholic View Comments
By Barbara Beckwith

Why is this semi-retired publisher so high on being a Catholic? Michael Leach’s Why Stay Catholic? Unexpected Answers to a Life-Changing Question, published by Loyola Press last March, builds on his previous bestseller, I Like Being Catholic, co-edited with Therese J. Borchard. That was a collection of other people’s stories, but his new book reveals his incredibly moving and persuasive personal story.

Mike, now 70, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Catholic Book Publishers Association in 2007. This Chicago native, who now lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, was ordained a priest in 1966 but requested and received laicization three years later so that he could marry.

Now after 41 years of marriage to Vickie Jacobi, Mike still can’t believe his good fortune in finding a woman whose life theme is gratitude. That’s true even though seven years ago she was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s. (Mike devotes one of the book’s chapters to her story and refers to her frequently.)

For his first job in the “real” world, Mike turned for advice to Father Andrew Greeley, whom he had met at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. Mike knew he wanted to work in publishing because “I love books.” Back then, Father Greeley was the prolific author of Catholic nonfiction; more recently,
he’s known for his novels. (Mike devotes a chapter in this book to the priest, now recovering from a head injury.)

So Greeley wrote to a number of publishers on Mike’s behalf, but no one would hire him because he had no experience. But Mike persevered because “Andy believed in me, and Vickie loved me, so I knocked on every door.” Just before his money ran out, he was hired by Seabury Press, owned by the Episcopal Church.

The rest, as they say, is history. Mike went on to become the publisher of The Crossroad Publishing Company and later of Orbis Books (both are Catholic publishing houses). He has published thousands of boo

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Barbara Beckwith is the managing editor of this publication.

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Peter of Alcantara: Peter was a contemporary of well-known 16th-century Spanish saints, including Ignatius of Loyola and John of the Cross. He served as confessor to St. Teresa of Avila. Church reform was a major issue in Peter’s day, and he directed most of his energies toward that end. His death came one year before the Council of Trent ended. 
<p>Born into a noble family (his father was the governor of Alcantara in Spain), Peter studied law at Salamanca University and, at 16, joined the so-called Observant Franciscans (also known as the discalced, or barefoot, friars). While he practiced many penances, he also demonstrated abilities which were soon recognized. He was named the superior of a new house even before his ordination as a priest; at the age of 39, he was elected provincial; he was a very successful preacher. Still, he was not above washing dishes and cutting wood for the friars. He did not seek attention; indeed, he preferred solitude.</p><p>Peter’s penitential side was evident when it came to food and clothing. It is said that he slept only 90 minutes each night. While others talked about Church reform, Peter’s reform began with himself. His patience was so great that a proverb arose: "To bear such an insult one must have the patience of Peter of Alcantara."</p><p>In 1554, Peter, having received permission, formed a group of Franciscans who followed the Rule of St. Francis with even greater rigor. These friars were known as Alcantarines. Some of the Spanish friars who came to North and South America in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were members of this group. At the end of the 19th century, the Alcantarines were joined with other Observant friars to form the Order of Friars Minor.</p><p>As spiritual director to St. Teresa, Peter encouraged her in promoting the Carmelite reform. His preaching brought many people to religious life, especially to the Secular Franciscan Order, the friars and the Poor Clares.</p><p>He was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Remember the widow’s mite. She threw into the treasury of the temple only two small coins, but with them, all her great love…. It is, above all, the interior value of the gift that counts: the readiness to share everything, the readiness to give oneself. —Pope John Paul II

 
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