by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — How do you talk about God to the people of a skeptical, post-Christian culture? And how do you reach the young?
Father Mike Scully, OFM Cap., has found a way: by making connections between the Gospel and popular entertainment, particularly movies and rock music.
For more than 40 years, Father Mike has offered insights and inspiration at the intersection of Christ and culture in talks, retreats, days of recollection and adult education presentations.
Now, Father Mike has returned to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and is available to preach, teach and present. Many pastors and parishioners are familiar with his work.
“He gave a parish mission on the sacrament of reconciliation at Sacred Heart Parish in Tonganoxie during Lent 2008,” said Father Mark Goldasich, Sacred Heart pastor and editor of The Leaven. “He preached at all of the weekend Masses and then did a session on the sacrament in the evenings — Sunday through Tuesday.
“People really enjoyed his sessions,” Father Goldasich continued. “He has the mind of a theologian and the heart of a pastor. He was able to get folks to understand the sacrament better. He then heard confessions on Wednesday and was kept busy from early morning until late that evening. He has a wonderful presentation style. He blends humor, academics and practical advice.”
No matter what the genre of music or film, Father Mike can find the message. Take “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” as an example.
At first blush, it might seem that an action–adventure spy movie has little to do with the Gospel. Amid the car chases and explosions, however, Father Mike found a message of “being together” that he could tie into the post-resurrection appearance of Christ to two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
The key to getting the message is to see and hear it through the perspective of the Scriptures.
“Scripture — that’s my main approach,” said Father Mike. “Scripture, and using media — especially rock music and movies — in order to illustrate the Scriptures and vice versa.”
Both the Scriptures and popular entertainment can shed light on each other.
“My whole thought is that both of them talk about life,” he said. “If they’re both going to talk about life, then Jesus has something to say about everything that is presented. That’s my desire, to say to the public what Jesus is saying about the ‘stuff’ that is out there in the world.”
Father Mike, born in Ohio and raised in West Virginia, joined the Capuchin Franciscan order at the minor seminary level in 1953. He was ordained a priest for the Capuchins in 1965 and was sent to Hays, to teach math and religion at St. Joseph Military Academy, which became Thomas More Prep-Marian.
He developed his approach of using popular entertainment in the service of the Gospel as he fulfilled various roles as teacher, high school administrator, youth leader, pastor and provincial of his order.
In addition to serving in Hays and Victoria, he was appointed pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Lawrence from 1986 to 1995, and did vocations work for the Capuchins in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area. He also wrote a regular column for The Leaven.
After serving as provincial from 2001 to 2007, Father Mike was appointed pastor of St. Fidelis Parish in Victoria, then St. Joseph Parish in Hays, and, finally, vocations director of the eastern part of the Capuchin Province of Mid-America. He is now based in Lawrence.
His return to the archdiocese couldn’t have come at a better time, he said. He plans to coordinate his efforts with archdiocesan activities for the Year of Faith.
Father Mike may be contacted by calling him at (785) 856-2277; writing to him at the Capuchin Youth Office, 1247 Kentucky, Lawrence, KS 66044; or by email at fr firstname.lastname@example.org.