No shortage of the faith on Long Island
Legatus’ Long Island Chapter chaplain fully embraces the new evangelization . . .
Monsignor James C. Vlaun
Long Island Chapter
Monsignor James C. Vlaun is devoted to Catholic media, his Long Island Legates, and the New York Jets, whom he serves as Catholic chaplain. His main ministry, however, is serving the new evangelization using a variety of media to champion the faith — as president and CEO of Telecare (the TV station of the Rockville Centre diocese), host of the nationally-syndicated radio show Religion and Rock, and author of such books as Feasts of Life: Recipes from Nana’s Wooden Spoon.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
When I was in the seventh grade my sister was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away. Instead of causing me to turn away from the faith, I embraced it as a source of hope and got involved with our parish. A resident priest from Manchuria, a clinical psychologist studying in America, helped me to understand Jesus in my life. He was the first one I spoke with about becoming a priest, and he helped me to discern. And my parents were very supportive despite my anxieties, like worrying about never having children of my own. But the Lord fills the empty space if we welcome Him in.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Three years ago Bishop William Murphy asked me to assume the previous chaplain’s duties because he was busy caring for his sick sister and terminally ill mother. But my introduction to Legatus came when I once addressed the chapter. I talked about the Pope’s encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi. Legatus definitely gives cause for hope, too! Despite my hectic schedule, I look hopefully toward each meeting as my own sort of “night off.”
What impact has Legatus had on the Rockville Centre diocese?
These leaders have a compelling vision of the faith that they’re passing on to their families, companies and parishes. It’s creating an exemplary wave of faith that’s exciting to witness. Personally, it’s from them that I’ve really learned how to be a leader. Their example of leading employees through living the faith in a kind and gentle way has definitely helped me in my work at Telecare.
How do you approach your role as chaplain?
I try to be authentically present for them, from hearing their confessions before Mass to enjoying their company at dinner. Personal friendships have been forged. Quite simply, I treasure being their priest.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I love cooking and the fellowship it affords. So I love hosting Telecare’s cooking show, Real Food. Though I don’t necessarily do the cooking, I bring in guest chefs like Lidia Bastianich and Susan Lucci to cook and share about their faith.
I also love hosting our show Everyday Faith Live in order to provide unmediated Catholic news from Church sources, here and abroad. The new evangelization is what I pray to do every day of the week, and that’s precisely what our TV ministry is about.
Any lessons you’ve learned as a priest that are especially apt for business leaders?
When I was a parish administrator, one day Joe the custodian came up and asked me how he could become a Catholic. He said he wanted to “be like you guys” because he saw us living out our faith with love and joy. He had a baby on the way and he wanted his child to become part of our great Catholic family. I later baptized his son and received Joe into the Church. Here was a man working in a Catholic environment who saw the faith lived with such fullness that he wanted to become a part of it. For me, that’s the sort of atmosphere a good Catholic leader fosters wherever he goes.