Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we are really excited to have our guest, Father Michael Mannion. We are going to talk about from Safe Surrender to Mother Teresa. Father Mike has worked with Mother Teresa and we have a series of questions that we want to ask him.
Monsignor Michael Mannion, lovingly known as Father Mike, is the Director of the Office of Community Relations Catholic Arch Dioses, that’s in Camden, New Jersey, and the founder the Discovery House Ministry.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: It’s really a pleasure to have someone on this show who is not only a very humble human being, but also one of the greatest connectors of our time, Relly, and will tell you that Monsignor is a very special man. In 2013, the Philadelphia division of the FBI honored Monsignor Michael Mannion, Father Mike as we like to call him, for his efforts to educate youth about the effects of substance abuse and violence, and for his assistance to the local FBI community outreach programs.
Working with the US Marshall’s Services, Father Mannion assisted with the organizations fugitive safe surrender program. The successful program encouraged the city’s most violent predators to surrender to Father Mannion due to his collaborative efforts with law enforcement.
Father Mike often volunteers as a chaplain not only to the FBI, Philadelphia Division, but also to many other community and law enforcement organizations across the Eastern Seaboard. He also supports the division’s youth and employee assistance program and he provides information on many, many areas of what you and I would call employee assistance including: substance abuse, suicide prevention, grief, addiction, and strategic urban community leadership.
In this week’s show we are going to talk to Father Mike about not only his tremendous coaching work within this community and the distinction about coaching as a priest, but also his more than 20 years of services side by side with Mother Teresa. Given the canonization of Mother Teresa this year, which I’m honored to be going to with Father Mike, we have a lot to talk about on this show, so it’s going to be a very exciting opportunity for our audience to get on the inside of the coaching practices of one of our, I would say, best networkers, best life coaches, and most-humble and professional servant of leadership that I’ve ever met.
Dr. Relly Nadler: Well Cathy I’m really excited. You’ve been telling me about Father Mike for quite a while. I’m really intrigued to be a part of this. Father Mike, Welcome! We love having you here.
Father Michael Mannion: Thank you, good to be here.
Dr. Relly Nadler: We wanted to ask you a question, because we want to know a little bit about the biography of folks; who have been some of the people who have been key influences for you that have kind of made you who you are today?
Father Michael Mannion: Well, a lot of my experiences come from trying to make sense of my mistakes and recognizing, I guess as I often say, that I heard someone else say years ago, “sometimes coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Walking through the slums of Rome, meeting some Sisters from India having them ask me if I can pick up their superior at the airport when she comes in. Getting the car to do that, and that’s the beginning of the Mother Teresa friendship.
Sometimes it’s a hospital room, sometimes it’s a homeless guy on the street; it really is just an openness to God’s grace which I think tons of people experience, but might not capitalize on it and develop it and cultivate it to a point where they are willing to take a risk with the unknown and the serendipitous, which I think is how God’s grace works in all people, and all faiths, and all religions.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Father, it’s such an honor to have you with us today. As you know, I would be global president of your fan club if there was one. It’s amazing, Relly, when you go to one of Father’s Discovery House meetings, and I’m sure we’ll talk a little bit about his ministry at Discovery House; you meet people from the highest echelons of life to people in inner cities families who have been the unfortunate victims of a violent crime.
I didn’t get to mention that Father became a priest rather late in life in 1971 era. He’s also the pioneer in the field of post abortion healing and he has authored a book on the subject, called “Abortion and Healing: A Guide to be Whole.” He has conducted many, many trainings with both clergy and lay professionals throughout the world on the topic.
He’s also served as the news cable network commentator during the funeral of Mother Teresa and he was actually a very prominent, featured guest on Meet the Press with Charlie Rose and MSNBC on the subject.
So he holds a lot of advanced degrees, and as we get to talk with Father Mike, he talked about serendipity, and he talked about being open to these kinds of consciousness raising activities. It’s so great to have you here.
I want to talk to you a little bit about your background. How did you decide that you wanted to be a priest and then kind of a life coach as you have progressed through your education and your formal training? You are somebody who our law enforcement and the FBI calls first thing when they need assistance. How does that work? How did you become that person?
Father Michael Mannion: I think first, they have to believe that you are there because you legitimately care for them without any hidden agendas. Someone once said, that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. Police and fire are very astute in recognizing people that legitimately care for them and or have other agendas.
So it’s not so much that I’m a perfect person, God I’m a sinner and struggle with life like anybody else, feet of clay, but there’s got to be a basic authenticity that when you look him in the eye, and you say I’m here for you. You’ve got to show up at 2:00 in the morning and when an officer, troop, or an agent goes down. You have to be there at that viewing. You’ve got to be there when that child is lost. It’s much more so, I think, a ministry of presence than of brilliant, over-astuteness, or even intelligence. It’s the presence of them trusting you to accompany them in life during their most difficult moments.
Actually, I’m a learner. They are all coaching me whether they know it or not and I’m trying to integrate it and reflect on it, and use my failures and my successes in a way that can help the next person. That’s kind of how my mind works. Maybe that’s the influence of Mother Teresa and the influence of some homeless people, and the influence of some people that I know that have had abortions and struggled, and even attempted suicide from the pain of the loss of a child.
You know the world is so locked into: compete – compete, you know, I don’t want to be vulnerable and show that I’m not the best, that I’m not #1. So we get ourselves in this crazy rat race of competing. I find the most fulfilling times in my life are not when I compete, but when I complete. Somebody else has tremendous skills, but they might be missing one little piece and they have many more skills than I have, but I might know a little bit about that one little piece they are missing.
It’s the old adage that none of us have it all together, but together we have it all. Of course when you look life through that vision, which is the Christian Judeo Vision, you see that God creates us imperfect so that we need each other. We need each other. Even the animals in Africa, I spent some time in Africa, the animals that are total predators to one another, day in and day out, millennium to millennium, when there’s a flash flood in the Serengeti Planes and the find a little hill to stand on, the animals that are predators and victims to each other, during that flood, on that little crested hill, stand there in peace with one another because the common enemy is no longer each other, the common enemy is that flood that could cause them all to perish.
When we talk about emotional intelligence, gosh there’s, I don’t know how many of the skill sets I have and how many I don’t have. I’ll have to go through them and formally look at them with each situation, but I know that if I’m there to complete and I don’t have to be the smartest or the holiest, or the best person in the room, there is immense freedom in that. Just to be myself. So it sounds like a false statement of false humility, but I’m really no better or worse than anybody else. I’m just me.
Listen to this wonderful interview above.