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Legatus Magazine

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Brian Fraga | author
Jan 01, 2020
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Understanding God’s special mission for those with influence

Father John Riccardo, 54, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, will be a featured speaker at the 2020 Legatus East Summit.

Father Riccardo is the executive director of ACTS XXIX, a nonprofit he helped to form that is aimed at revitalizing parish life and helping pastors and their teams to reclaim their identity as missionary disciples. Father Riccardo recently spoke with Legatus magazine.

Without giving too much away, what are you going to be talking about at the Summit?

What I want to try to do is in the midst of the confusion that’s going on in the world we’re living in — and in the Church and the country — is to pull back from the weeds and to get clear once again on the big picture. And the big picture in my mind is to make sure we understand God’s plan for the world and our mission in it, most especially the mission that has been entrusted to people like those who belong to Legatus.

How would you describe that mission?

The mission is two-fold. For all of us, the mission is to understand that the work that happened on Easter Sunday was the work of the re-creation of the universe. What you and I are supposed to be doing right now is letting the Lord use us as instruments in his hands to continue to foster that work of re-creation in every sphere of life. For those who belong to Legatus, it’s that and then some. The line that comes to mind is the line in the book of Esther when Esther’s uncle says to her, “Who knows whether or not God has raised you up for such a time as this.” There’s an especially weighty task given to those who have influence, and I’m going to be talking about that, too.

What have been your impressions of Legatus?

I’ve spoken at Legatus meetings off and on ever since it started. The Legates are tremendous men and women with a real passion for the Gospel, and an eagerness to understand what God is asking them to do in these crazy times in which we live.

What did you do before entering seminary?

I worked in the auto industry. My vocation story is complicated. I never had an inkling to become a priest, but I had an encounter with Jesus that I could never deny. I went from being in a place of not going to church – even though I prayed – to Jesus inviting me to be a priest, which is something I had never genuinely considered in my life.

What was that encounter with Jesus like?

I was a typical early-to-mid-20s individual who was restless, trying to find something truly meaningful to do in my life, and wasn’t able to find that in the world. I was on my way back to grad school to get another degree to open another door, which I didn’t really care about because I didn’t want money, I wanted meaning. One day out of nowhere as I was praying, I felt like the Lord invited me to live single and to do it as a priest. And the moment He seriously asked me to do that, I knew that’s what I was looking for.

What is the mission of ACTS XXIX?

ACTS XXIX is a nonprofit we founded last year that does work with pastors and parishes across the country to bring about transformation and to help them reclaim their missionary identity. We feel the Lord has given us something unique to share with a segment of pastors and parishes around the country. It’s about priestly renewal, working with pastors and their teams to get healthy and then to get clarity on God’s plan for the world, and then to get out there and begin to discern the blueprint that He has for every parish.

Do you have any hobbies?

My passion outside of Jesus is golf, reading, and friends, not in that order.

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