Plate-spinning with passion and purpose
Santa Barbara’s Fr. John Love is pastor at St. Mark’s University Parish . . . .
Fr. John Love
Santa Barbara Chapter
Likening himself to a circus plate-spinner, Fr. John Love serves as pastor of St. Mark’s University Roman Catholic Church in Isla Vista, Calif. The parish is “essentially a Newman Center, but with the canonical status of a parish.” He’s also a chaplain for Legatus, the Order of Malta, and the Air National Guard. “My interest in helping military personnel to find God derives from my family’s military tradition,” says this son of an Army surgeon. Of his vocational plate-spinning act, he says, “Through the grace of God, a plate has yet to fall!”
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
The faith was a vital part of my growing up, but my main conversion point occurred right out of college. I was working on a mayoral campaign in San Diego. One day in April 1985, I saw a young woman wearing a postulant’s habit pushing an old lady in a wheelchair outside the grocery store. I broke down and knew I needed to do something to help people find God amidst their suffering and questioning. I quit my job the next day and decided to give the seminary a try. I got accepted as a late applicant. Five years later I was ordained.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Through Tim Busch. Tim’s been instrumental in founding our chapter as well as so many others in California. He’d purchased a hotel within my parish boundaries and converted it into a resort. About a year ago I heard that a Mass was going to be said there for a meeting of the Magis Institute. I called Tim and made sure he had everything he needed. We met soon after. About a month later he called and said he wanted me to be the chaplain of this new chapter. I said my plate was full. He said that was too bad because he’d already spoken with Archbishop Gómez and that my boss had already appointed me!
What impact has Legatus had in Santa Barbara?
It’s a little early to tell because we’re less than a year old. I can say that one fellow we invited to join was hesitant because his wife isn’t Catholic. He did, and now she’s starting to come around. So I see Legatus as a kind of evangelical tool that provides a wonderful outreach simply through Christian witness. Seeing business professionals living their faith can be very enticing for younger execs and others who might be struggling with their faith.
How would you like to see the chapter progress?
Santa Barbara’s nickname is “Home to the newlywed and nearly dead.” There are a lot of young people and a vast number of retirees. But it’s hard for younger people to stay and raise families because real estate prices are out of this world. So it’s going to be a challenge finding younger executives who qualify for Legatus, but we’re looking.
I enjoy going deep into the faith with Legates and having intellectual discussions. Our evenings together serve to strengthen my own faith.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
I’ve always enjoyed building things of lasting material value, especially through woodworking — and I’ve always enjoyed music. So I’ve combined these passions by building harpsichords. I’ve built three so far.
Do you have any advice for business leaders?
I tell my students to organize and execute their own projects and I’ll support them. In their freedom they might fail. But charting their own course — creating their own excellence — helps them to grow and flourish as human beings.
So don’t micromanage your subordinates. Give them the ability to excel — or fail — within the parameters of their responsibilities.
MATTHEW A. RAREY is Legatus magazine’s editorial assistant.