Building ambassadors in Michigan’s capital
Monsignor Steven Raica is the founding chaplain of Legatus’ Lansing Chapter . . .
Monsignor Steven J. Raica
Monsignor Steven J. Raica discovered his vocation by serving the church, first as an altar boy at Mass in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, later in a campus parish at Michigan State University. In the early years of his priesthood, he learned the Mass in sign language to serve the hearing-impaired. “We must walk together in our faith journey” has been his motto, carried out as far away as Rome where he once worked as rector of Casa Santa Maria at the Pontifical North American College. Today at 60, in addition to pastoring Legatus’ fledgling Lansing Chapter, Monsignor Raica is chancellor of the Lansing diocese and co-rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
I guess my first inkling was probably around fifth grade when I served Mass. In high school I got more involved in church, including joining the choir, playing the organ and going to daily Mass.
My calling matured at Michigan State University, where I got involved with the campus parish and the diocesan pre-seminary program. There were a number of confirmations of my calling. Once I remember opening my pocket Bible at random to Hebrews 11 about faith being the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. That was revelatory. Perhaps the Lord was calling me not to be afraid of faith but to follow him and doors would open. So I went to the seminary after graduation and have not had one regret for having accepted the Lord’s invitation to follow him.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
I became familiar with Legatus over the course of the years since Bishop Emeritus Carl Mengeling would go to meetings in Ann Arbor. Current Bishop Earl Boyea asked me if I’d be willing to serve as Lansing’s chaplain. I don’t get many pastoral opportunities. This is another outreach that helps me to do my priestly duties, and so I relish walking with Legates on their journey of faith.
What impact has Legatus had on the Lansing diocese?
It’s too early to say, but it has raised interest for those who would qualify for membership to do something to engage them spiritually and build a community in which we can explore issues of faith in a setting that allows it to grow and be nurtured.
We also want to grow the chapter and become chartered. It will take current members inviting others to share what they’ve found, but it won’t work unless it’s founded on Christ. Members must consider themselves ambassadors not of themselves but of Christ.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
Music. When I was in high school I was the parish organist. I still sneak up into the cathedral’s choir loft every now and then to play some of the old repertoire.
Playing those pieces brings back memories, but also somehow honors the Lord. It also serves my own edification because it’s engaging in beauty in a way that only music can do.
And you’re a big reader, too. Any recommendations?
I’ve developed a great appreciation for the writings of Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of Communion and Liberation, a mostly lay movement that began in Italy. I meet regularly with people in this area who are interested in following its charism. It’s based on the encounter with Christ that one has by the very fact that Christ took on our flesh and became one of us to show us the way back to God.
Benedict XVI has been deeply influenced by his writings, and now Pope Francis. Giussani has given a quite amazing subtext to the narrative of the modern papacy. And his writings and movement have helped many people around the world understand how they can witness for Christ in a most astonishing way.