SUZANNE DEGNATS: OK, I'm Suzanne Degnats at Georgia State University, and thisis January 18th, 2013. We're here for a Religious Lives interview. Can I get your name please, and if you could spell it, that would be great.
RUDY SCHLOSSER: OK, my name is Rudolf Schlosser. R-U-D-O-L-F S-C-H-L-O-S-S-E-R.
DEGNATS: OK. What -- where does that name --
SCHLOSSER: It's a German name, but my father was born in Bosnia; his father inRussia, and his father was born in Alsace-Lorraine or Alsace-Lorraine [change in pronunciation], which was a German-French area, and that's where the German comes from.
DEGNATS: OK, great. Well, the first thing we're going to do is we're going totalk about religion in your childhood, and so this is up to about age twelve, up until about puberty hits. So, what is your earliest memory concerning religion in your childhood? And if you can remember a certain specific moment or an event, that would be great.
SCHLOSSER: Alright, well I went to a Catholic elementary school, and in first00:01:00grade, I had a girl who liked me, but I was too nave to know that she liked me. So, for lunch she would always bring me a McDonald's hamburger. So, that's not really religious but more of a dating in a religion --
SCHLOSSER: And another memory I have is I, in a Catholic school, when I went, wewere schooled by nuns, and at that time -- completely different than today where today anything goes, where students can talk back, and they can curse and all that -- at that time, when you were in school, and if you looked the wrong way, you were punished. And I was a very fidgety little kid, so one time, I just fidgeted a little too much, and this little nun just took me up out of my chair and pushed against the back of the wall and just with her fist clenched, hit me in my mouth just to calm me down.
DEGNATS: Wow. What were you thinking?
SCHLOSSER: I was thinking I need to be obedient.00:02:00
SCHLOSSER: You know, because back then, all you thought was that the nun wasright, and that you -- if you did something wrong, you must have done something wrong. You needed to be obedient.
DEGNATS: Wow. What -- can you set the stage a little bit, like a timeframe andwhere this was?
SCHLOSSER: Yes, it was in Bellflower, California, which is a suburb of LosAngeles, and I was in the fourth grade, and the year, maybe 1974.
DEGNATS: OK. And what roll did religion play in your childhood?
SCHLOSSER: Well, in a Catholic elementary school, every moment of the day wassomething religious. You know, we start off the morning with prayer. We ended the day with prayer. We had daily Mass. We were taught by nuns. And at least one class was Catholic religion, and there was maybe another class related to religion as well. Every day, we had to dress up a certain way. We had to be on 00:03:00our best behavior. You know, again we would just pray throughout the day. So, religion/prayer/faith was my life from first through eighth grade, and then, you know, ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth.
DEGNATS: And then what about religion in your home?
SCHLOSSER: Religion in the home? My mom was a very practicing Catholic, and soshe worked at the same school. So, for her being Catholic, it was very important that every Sunday we went to Mass as a family. My dad wasn't as religious as my mom, but as a good dad, good religious dad, he was at the Mass as well.
DEGNATS: OK. And then did you observe the holy days as well?
SCHLOSSER: In my whole life, the only constant in my life has been religion, you know?
SCHLOSSER: And serving God has been the only constant, so yes.
DEGNATS: Did your mom ever tell you who your saint was?
DEGNATS: Who is that?
SCHLOSSER: So, I was born -- my middle name is Michael, so Michael is the00:04:00archangel. And then for confirmation, I was very close to a Catholic priest, and his name is Father Anthony, so my confirmation name is Anthony.
DEGNATS: OK. Did you have any resonance with Archangel Michael?
SCHLOSSER: No visions. Just like they get these prayer cards, and you see him,and he looks like a very powerful guy.
SCHLOSSER: So, that was the connection.
DEGNATS: I always liked him. When you were a child -- so, you said religion hasbeen the constant in your life, and it was constant for you as a child.
DEGNATS: So, when you were a child, did you think about religion as well?
SCHLOSSER: So, I went to a school called St. Dominic Savio. And St. DominicSavio was this young boy, and his motto was, "Death before sin." And so, every day the nuns would emphasize that. You know, you're at this school with a fourteen year-old teenager who died who never wanted to sin, who would rather 00:05:00die instead of sinning, so yes, it was emphasized how important it was to be a good practicing Catholic and good religious observer.
DEGNATS: OK. And did you say bedtime prayers? Did your family say prayers?
DEGNATS: OK. And do you remember if you had any -- if you knew of any people inyour childhood that were not of your faith, that were not Catholic? Did you have any associations with anyone that was not Catholic?
SCHLOSSER: So, in the morning, my mom would take me to school -- to the Catholicschool; throughout the day, hangout with the Catholics; when I got home all my neighborhood were a bunch of students from my school; would hang out with those students. Actually, there was two or three friends that weren't Catholic, but we were just friends, you know? And when you're a first grade, second grade, you just like to play. It didn't matter anything about that other person. 00:06:00
SCHLOSSER: So yes, I had non-Catholic friends growing up.
DEGNATS: And do you ever remember asking them about their religion or discussingit with them?
DEGNATS: So, that never came up?
DEGNATS: How would you have identified yourself religiously as a child ifsomeone were to have asked you?
SCHLOSSER: A very good Catholic.
DEGNATS: A very good Catholic. (Laughter)
SCHLOSSER: Yeah. I was an altar boy.
DEGNATS: You were?
SCHLOSSER: Yep. So, I was one of the top altar boys, you know, meaning that Iwas there for the 6:30 A.M. Mass. And in order to serve at the 6:30 A.M mass, you had to get up at 6 o'clock to make it one time for Mass. And so, I would go through all the altar boy training. And I did that through like tenth grade or so.
SCHLOSSER: So, I was a very good Catholic.
DEGNATS: Good Catholic. You ate fish on Friday I'm assuming.
SCHLOSSER: Didn't eat meat.
DEGNATS: Did not eat meat.
SCHLOSSER: Not necessarily have fish, but it wasn't meat.
DEGNATS: It wasn't meat, OK.
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, my father -- my mother's Mexican, so sometimes it would just be00:07:00beans -- beans and salad.
DEGNATS: Were there any influential religious figures when you were growing up?And this could have been a priest or an uncle. It could have been even like a figure from a book, like an imaginary figure.
SCHLOSSER: Father Anthony. Father Anthony. My mom worked at the school, andFather Anthony was a close friend of the family. He was the pastor of the school. So he would not only be my mom's employer, but he would often take us to dinner. We'd go on trips with him, outings. And so he was -- be in out. So, on Sundays, because my mom worked at the church, I was able to count the collection money. And that's only because Father Anthony trusted my mom, and he trusted me. So, I was one of the few people to get into the church rectory and just hang out with the priest.
DEGNATS: What was the church like that you went to? Was it a cathedral or asmall church?
SCHLOSSER: Small church.
DEGNATS: Did they do the incense?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah. Small Catholic church.
DEGNATS: And the processionals, and -- ?00:08:00
SCHLOSSER: All that. All the traditionsof the Catholic Church.
DEGNATS: Yeah. What was your favorite part about being Catholic when you were little?
SCHLOSSER: I loved being an altar boy, you know? I just liked, you know, wearingthe red cassock that ou would put over your outfit and hang out with my friends, who were also altar boys, and just celebrating Mass as an altar boy. Not that I understand everything about the -- you know, the divine presence -- but I just enjoyed being an altar boy.
DEGNATS: And I'm assuming the Mass was said in English?
SCHLOSSER: English, yes.
DEGNATS: Did you ever have any kind of experiences of maybe, like a directconnection to God or something spiritual when you were a child?
SCHLOSSER: I think about that often. I've never had any visions of God, neverany voices, never any wakeup calls, and when somebody says that, I just have to believe them, you know?
SCHLOSSER: Because I myself have never experienced that.
DEGNATS: OK. Well, we're going to talk a little bit about going into youradolescence. So, how did you feel about religion, like as you move from your childhood to your adolescence?
SCHLOSSER: And what's the age-range of adolescence?
DEGNATS: Let's just go with your -- how old were you when you were confirmed?
SCHLOSSER: In California, we did that in the seventh grade, so I was I think fourteen.
DEGNATS: OK, can you describe that process to me?
SCHLOSSER: The most important thing about my confirmation was getting the rightsponsor. The sponsor was a student, an eighth grader, who was the most popular student in class, and he was a friend of my family, and so, that was the most important thing. He was a really good athlete. And so, I asked him. His name was Jim. "Jim," you know, "can you be my sponsor?" And he said, "Yes." So, that was the most important thing to me. That's what I remember. I really don't remember too much more.
DEGNATS: Do you --
SCHLOSSER: Like, the ceremony or anything like that.
DEGNATS: You don't remember anything about the ceremony.
SCHLOSSER: Uh-uh, no.
DEGNATS: Yeah. Do you remember your first communion?
SCHLOSSER: I would remember that even less.00:10:00
DEGNATS: Really? (Laughter) And so, what were your religious views or beliefs,like when you were a teenager?
SCHLOSSER: Well, because I went to the Catholic school, and because my familywas practicing Catholic, it was important to go to Mass on Sunday, to not sin as best as possible, to go to confession as often as possible, to practice everything that the Church taught.
DEGNATS: OK. And did you -- how did you feel about confession? Did you alwayshave something to confess?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah. Well, we learned nobody's perfect. Nobody's perfect andthat in confession, you're all -- we're all forgiven for no matter what we've done.
DEGNATS: And how would that -- that they would ask you to say a certain numberof prayers?
SCHLOSSER: So, in confession, you say, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.It's been one month from my last confession." And then you go through the ten commandments, and you pick out which ones you haven't followed, and that's what you confess. And then the priest would give you a penance, say OK, for these 00:11:00sins, your penance is to say the Hail Mary three times, or say the Our Father two times, or to -- if you -- if your sin was you were disobedient to your parents, to ask your mom to forgive you and then do your chore. Or if you lied to another person, don't lie again. Or if you were malicious to another person, you know, be good to somebody else. So, that was what your penance was. Then, after you -- after he gives you your penance, he gives you an absolution, and says -- he says, "Through the power of the Church, I absolve you of all your sins." And you say, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, go in peace," and you're done with your confession.
SCHLOSSER: That's pretty much it.
DEGNATS: And is it pretty much the same now?
DEGNATS: OK, so nothing much has changed with confession over the last --
SCHLOSSER: No, the thing about the Catholic Church -- and we just had areflection on this this week is that, you know, what was good then is good today. The Catholic Church doesn't try to change with the times. So, also what 00:12:00was evil then is evil today. So, murdering for whatever -- however -- any type of murder twenty years ago is still something evil today.
SCHLOSSER: You know, lying twenty years ago is still lying today, you know?Premarital sex twenty years ago is still premarital sex today, and you have to confess those sins.
SCHLOSSER: So, the Church hasn't changed on that.
DEGNATS: OK. Now, were there any -- so, were there any changes or differencesthen in your religious life between your childhood and as you went up through high school?
SCHLOSSER: To me or in the church?
DEGNATS: For you?
SCHLOSSER: [Pause] No, no, I mean, I went to a Catholic elementary school wherewe had boys and girls, and then I went to an all-boys Catholic high school with, obviously, only boys.
SCHLOSSER: So, that would be something different.
DEGNATS: Yeah. And did you notice any changes in your church during that time?00:13:00
SCHLOSSER: Like acceptance of certain things or not accepting?
DEGNATS: Yeah, or even practices because I'm thinking -- I can't remember whenthey started the folk Masses. I don't know if they did that.
SCHLOSSER: Right. In my time, no.
DEGNATS: OK. So --
SCHLOSSER: Now, yeah, it's completely different.
SCHLOSSER: When I went to church, you had to dress respectfully, you couldn'tchew gum, you had to be on time, you couldn't leave early, you had to sit, stand, kneel at all the right times. (Coughing)
DEGNATS: Do you want me to get you a glass of water?
SCHLOSSER: (Coughing) No, I'm OK.
SCHLOSSER: Today is completely different.
DEGNATS: How is it different today?
SCHLOSSER: People wear hats to church. People chew gum in church. People don'tknow all their prayers in church. People don't use the missals in church. People come and go as they please. People use their cell phones in church. People text in church.
DEGNATS: People text in church? (Laughter)
SCHLOSSER: Yes! Even though at the beginning of Mass, they say, "Please refrainfrom texting." But people still do it.
DEGNATS: They say that in Mass now?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah. At the beginning of Mass. "Please turn off your cell phones00:14:00or any other technological device." They emphasize that. And some people who are there on time don't turn them off and will still answer the phone or text during Mass. And some people who will come late, they'll still do that. And their excuse to me, "Well, I didn't hear that."
SCHLOSSER: And how about the people who were there?
SCHLOSSER: So, it's completely different.
DEGNATS: Wow. I just --
SCHLOSSER: And there --
DEGNATS: Go ahead.
SCHLOSSER: And there was a time when cell phones just came out where priests --where they would hear the cell phone call, and that would upset the priest. "Hey," you know, "can you turn off your phone? Can you answer it?" Something like that. But now, the priest just goes with the flow. You know, kind of jokes with it sometimes because I guess they've been schooled that. You know, too many people get upset that they're centered or pointed out, and they don't come back to church.
SCHLOSSER: I guess.
DEGNATS: That's interesting. What was -- I'm just curious. When you were -- andthis could be when you were a child or a teenager -- was Christmas a big deal in your family?
SCHLOSSER: Not in my family.00:15:00
DEGNATS: It was not? Would you go to midnight Mass?
SCHLOSSER: Going to church was a big deal, but in terms of like presents,decorating the house, that was not a big deal.
SCHLOSSER: You know, my father grew up during World War II, and so, life itselfwas meaningful to him. He never got too many gifts growing up, and that tradition passed on.
DEGNATS: Yeah. Would you go to midnight Mass?
SCHLOSSER: We would go to Mass, definitely, but it didn't matter if it was midnight.
SCHLOSSER: We would go at some point. Like, the actual time didn't matter.
DEGNATS: Did they sing Silent Night and do the candles?
DEGNATS: That's always my favorite part. When you were a teenager, were thereany significant religious figures or persons in your life then?
SCHLOSSER: I went to a Catholic high school, and I played sports, so thesignificant people were the coaches on my sports team.
SCHLOSSER: Of course, at a Catholic school, you would always start off with00:16:00prayer and have something positive about the game, about the sport that we're doing.
DEGNATS: What sports did you play?
SCHLOSSER: I played football and soccer and track.
SCHLOSSER: So, there was something negative that happened when I was infootball. One of my coaches just didn't like me because I was a very popular student, so he would always give me the most challenging, most excruciating assignments in football, where I was a little person back then, and I would often go up against somebody who was twice my weight, much taller than I was and asked to block them or tackle them or something like that, where -- you know, thinking back on that, that just wasn't the right thing to do. That wasn't very positive reinforcement. It was just a mean coach picking on somebody for no reason. I'll never know why.
DEGNATS: Did you ever have any -- and he was -- was he -- he was obviouslyCatholic, or was he Catholic?
SCHLOSSER: I would guess so. He didn't like me. (Laughter) He wasn't practicing00:17:00Catholic in the sense of following what Jesus --
SCHLOSSER: Would say for somebody to do.
DEGNATS: Did you ever think about that when you were little? If you knew otherCatholics who maybe weren't behaving the way that -- did you ascribe how Catholics should behave? Did you have an idea in your head?
SCHLOSSER: I knew how they should behave. I knew they should follow the rules.And when you didn't follow the rules in elementary school, you got expelled.
SCHLOSSER: Yep, there was no being sent to principal. Like, if you broke a badrule, you were out of the school. That's how it was in my elementary school.
DEGNATS: But it sounds like you had a lot of respect for your elders.
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah.
SCHLOSSER: Whether I -- it was force upon me or I actually did it out of my own,I did respect the elders.
DEGNATS: And was there ever a time when the elders weren't acting -- like yourcoach -- did that ever make you wonder about religion or about could some people not obey or anything like that?
SCHLOSSER: It made me wonder about them.
SCHLOSSER: You know, I always -- one thing that was emphasized in our upbringing00:18:00was that these are the rules of the Catholic Church; however, there are human beings in the Catholic Church, and every human being is flawed. Human beings make mistakes, so when a human being makes a mistake, that's the individual making the mistake. It's not the Church that's making the mistake.
SCHLOSSER: Or that it's the priest, a nun, your teacher, the individual ismaking that mistake.
SCHLOSSER: Not even if the individual's at a Catholic high school, even if theindividual is, you know, a priest, it's like it's the individual. Like, you know, the pedophile priests?
SCHLOSSER: It's not the priesthood that was at fault, it was those individual priests.
DEGNATS: OK. And did you know -- did you have friends when you were a teenageror other people that were not Catholic that you had close associations with?
DEGNATS: And did you ever have an occasion to talk with them about religion?
SCHLOSSER: I would attend their services. One of my best friends was Lutheran,and I would go to a Lutheran service every now and then, and he went to the 00:19:00Catholic high school, but we really never talked about religion. I never really talked about religion too much, elementary school to high school.
SCHLOSSER: I just was there. I was in a religious atmosphere; just didn't talk-- I mean I went to religious classes. Obviously answered questions about religion on the test, you know, knew my answers very well because I got all A's in high school, so I was doing something right, but really never discussed that outside of textbook knowledge of religion.
DEGNATS: Did you ever think about other people that weren't Catholics and thinkabout what was going to happen to them after they died?
SCHLOSSER: I believed that -- and I still do -- that if you're a good person --and the Catholic Church teaches this -- if you're a good person, following your morality, own morality, and following your conscience and you never get to become Christian, you're going to still make it to Heaven. You know? So, there's a place in Heaven for those who've never learned about Christianity that were 00:20:00just good people. They're going to make it. That's what the Catholic Church teaches.
DEGNATS: Oh, it does teach that?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah. It does. That's in our Catechism.
DEGNATS: That's nice.
SCHLOSSER: How can a, you know, a five year-old who's grown up in a -- someremote part of Africa who's never had a chance to learn about Jesus and then suddenly dies, how -- why would they go to Hell?
SCHLOSSER: You know? That's not fair. God is beyond fair.
DEGNATS: Do they teach -- still teach Purgatory and Limbo?
SCHLOSSER: No more Limbo --
DEGNATS: No more Limbo.
SCHLOSSER: But Purgatory, yes. Yep.
DEGNATS: And Purgatory is for --
SCHLOSSER: Purgatory is -- means, purgation, cleansing, to get your self readyfor heaven.
SCHLOSSER: So, you're going to make it to Heaven; just you got to be cleansed ofthe sins you've made.
DEGNATS: Do they still teach Hell?
SCHLOSSER: Yes. Oh, yeah.
SCHLOSSER: Hell is real. Evil is real.
SCHLOSSER: And basically, the Catholic Church knows who's in Heaven. We callthem saints, but the Catholic Church does not say that one person is in Hell, 00:21:00even Hitler. Because at some point before Hitler died, you know, suicide he could have asked God that millisecond before he pulled the trigger, you know, "Forgive me." So, we believe that our merciful God will grant mercy to anybody who asks for his mercy, and the greatest sin is to think that God will not forgive you. So -- and if you commit that greatest sin, that's called blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, then you cannot be forgiven because you're choosing to not be forgiven by God and therefore you have set your eternity --
DEGNATS: So, it's a choice.
SCHLOSSER: Hell. It's a choice.
DEGNATS: Individual choice.
SCHLOSSER: At the very last millisecond before you die -- no matter how yourlife has been lived for X number of years, that last millisecond before you die, you have a choice. God will say, "Do you accept me or not?" And if you say, "No" --
SCHLOSSER: You've done your sentencing.
SCHLOSSER: I even -- that's what I tell atheists. I said like, "You may notbelieve in God, but for some reason, at the end of your life, if you hear this voice that says, 'Do you accept me?' just say 'Yes.'"
DEGNATS: Say, "Yes." (Laughter)
SCHLOSSER: Whether you believe it or not, just say, "Yes."
SCHLOSSER: And that might get you in.
DEGNATS: Wow. Good advice. So, when you -- how would you have identifiedyourself then? Like, let's say when you graduated high school if someone asked you what religion you were?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, definitely, "Catholic."
DEGNATS: You would have said, "Catholic." OK.
SCHLOSSER: My whole life, I've always identified by Catholic.
SCHLOSSER: Never strayed one second.
SCHLOSSER: Like I said, that's the only constant.
DEGNATS: And where did you go -- so you went to college. You graduated -- andyou graduated high school in California?
SCHLOSSER: Yep, St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California.
DEGNATS: OK. And then you went to --
SCHLOSSER: I went to Stanford University in northern California.
DEGNATS: And you studied?
SCHLOSSER: I studied International Relations and Finance.
DEGNATS: Oh, OK, Finance. And did -- was there anything that happened during00:23:00your college years religiously, or did you follow --
SCHLOSSER: Oh yeah, yeah --
DEGNATS: The same trajectory?
SCHLOSSER: Because I really enjoyed being Catholic -- so I went to an all-boysCatholic high school, and then at Stanford, my first year, I was in a co-ed by room dormitory. So, completely different. So, I was with two other boys, and then next door were three females; next door was three females; across the hall was three females -- you know, a room with three females. So --
DEGNATS: Wow, you were surrounded by women.
SCHLOSSER: Surrounded by women. And I said, "I really need a Catholic Churchnow." So, the first thing I did during the -- or during the first thing I looked out for the Newman Center. And that's the Catholic college campus ministry, called the Newman Center after John-Henry Newman, the -- one of the first Catholic saints of the United States.
DEGNATS: Oh, OK. And what did you do with the Catholic --
SCHLOSSER: The Newman Center?
SCHLOSSER: So, we had Bible studies, weekly Bible studies and quarterlyretreats. And I loved school; I loved learning, but being part of the Newman 00:24:00Center was my favorite part of Stanford University. That's where the -- most of the friends I made and we had the most in common.
DEGNATS: Were you around people of other religions at Stanford?
SCHLOSSER: I was around people -- my roommate was Jewish, non-practicing, andthe other roommate grew up Christian, also non-practicing. So, yeah two other religions but non-practicing. There was not too heavy of a Muslim influence when I was going to college. This was in the early eighties. I never -- I mostly hung out with Catholics, and then the other times I didn't do religious things, it was just friends; we didn't talk about religion, once again.
SCHLOSSER: Didn't talk about religion.
DEGNATS: You didn't talk -- ever?
DEGNATS: OK. Did you ever have -- did you ever have doubts about your ownreligion? Did you ever do any seeking into other religions ever?
DEGNATS: Never. Your constant --
SCHLOSSER: Again, the only constant never strayed, Catholicism.
DEGNATS: OK. So, you graduated Stanford, and then you --
SCHLOSSER: Graduated Stanford; then I traveled across the United States.Basically, just took three months off just to visit all the friends that I met.
DEGNATS: Drive or walked or -- ?
SCHLOSSER: I flew, drove, bused, planed, cruised. Any form of transportationjust to visit friends. And once again, the only constant was going to Mass on Sunday while I was doing all this traveling.
DEGNATS: So, you always found a church.
SCHLOSSER: Always found a church.
DEGNATS: Do you remember any particular churches that stood out to you?
SCHLOSSER: Not during that time, no. But, you know, about finding a church --like I said, haven't missed Mass on a Sunday -- my friend and I hiked up Mount 00:26:00Sinai. It was a Saturday night, and then when you hike up Mount Sinai, you go to the top, and you arrive around midnight, and you wake up around 4:00 A.M. because the sun rises, and you overlook Mount Sinai, and then you just take the steps down. And then you go back to this city, the base-city. I think that was what -- Dahab, Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula, and I was with two other Catholics, and I said -- it was Sunday -- I said, "You know, what, I've never missed Mass on Sunday, and I don't think they have Mass in that city. What do you think we're going to do?" He said, "I don't know." And then in front of us in a van were these Polish people, and I've studied nine different languages, and I thought, "That's" -- "I bet you they're Polish." And I know that a lot of Polish are Catholic, and I said -- hopefully one of them will speaks English -- I said, "Are any of you going to Mass today because I bet you're Catholic, right?" And 00:27:00they said, "Yeah, we're Catholic." And then they talked amongst themselves in Polish, and they happened to be religious, like two were priests, and two were brothers. And they said, "Well, we're celebrating Mass in our room." And I thought, "Oh, wow." And I told my friend, "I bet you, if we ask them to join Mass, they'll let us." So, I said, "Can we join you?" And then once again they broke away, talked in Polish, and they said, "Of course." You know, "Come at this time, and we'll have Mass in our room."
SCHLOSSER: So, that was God taking care of my need for the Sunday obligation.
DEGNATS: Did they say Mass in English or Polish?
SCHLOSSER: English. Yeah.
DEGNATS: Oh, that was nice of them
SCHLOSSER: Yeah. It was translated, a combination of English/Polish, so -- butit was a Sunday Mass.
DEGNATS: That's wonderful.
DEGNATS: So, you did some world traveling too. Was this after -- right after college?
SCHLOSSER: I've traveled into 73 different countries. And so, during college,00:28:00after college, last month, next month, I'm traveling somewhere.
DEGNATS: And you've never missed a Mass?
DEGNATS: Any other close calls?
SCHLOSSER: Any other close calls?
DEGNATS: Any other countries where it was a little bit --
SCHLOSSER: Egypt. I had to go to a Coptic Catholic Mass, but under Catholicism,the Coptic Church is under the same rite, so the Coptic Mass is OK by the Roman Catholic Church.
SCHLOSSER: So, do you understand about the different rites we have? Have youstudied that?
SCHLOSSER: OK, so anyways, Coptics are OK. There's a whole -- there's liketwenty-seven different rites, you know, that are OK -- that are in-line with Roman Catholicism. So, in Egypt, I went to a Coptic Catholic Mass. I've been to Masses all over the world where I didn't know the language. I've been to Mass in Japan. And you know, the Roman Catholic Mass is the same everywhere, just 00:29:00different languages. And of course, I've been to Mass -- many parts of Latin -- in the world in Latin, and I've studied Latin, so I can follow the Latin Mass. So --
DEGNATS: What has been the impetus of all of this travel?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, I love travel. When I tell people, like I'm a simple person. Thethree constants in my life are God, travel, and exercise. That's it. Like, if I have that, then I'm OK.
DEGNATS: Do you travel for work or travel --
SCHLOSSER: Sometimes for work. So, here I'm the campus minster at Georgia State,so I'll take students to different events. The big Catholic event is called World Youth Day, so we traveled to Cologne, Germany in 2005, to Sydney, Australia in 2008, to Madrid, Spain in 2011. Last year we went to Ireland for the Eucharistic Congress. You know, again, as part of work. And then when it's not work, I enjoy traveling because I just like to see different parts of the world or try different foods or see different sights. You know, something like that. 00:30:00
DEGNATS: Have you ever taken a group to the Vatican?
SCHLOSSER: Yes, many times.
DEGNATS: Yeah. Do you have any stories about that that you could tell?
SCHLOSSER: I mean, I've been to Vatican maybe ten times, and every time I enjoy.At -- when you go to the Vatican -- have you been there?
DEGNATS: I have.
SCHLOSSER: OK, so I -- at the top of San Pietro is the cupola, and you take thecupola all the way up, and it has one of the greatest views of Rome. You know, the top of the cupola. Have you been there?
SCHLOSSER: Seen that?
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, so it has an incredible view of Rome, maybe as high as any partof Rome, and you have a three-hundred-sixty degree view of the city. So, I love views, so I loved that part. I love Michelangelo, so I visited the Sistine Chapel many times. Never get bored of it. And as soon as you enter St. Peter's, when you go to the right, you see the Pieta, that amazing sculpture from Michelangelo. So, I love that.
DEGNATS: Have you ever seen the Pope?
SCHLOSSER: Many times.
DEGNATS: In the square in St. Peter's?
SCHLOSSER: Yep, so one of my favorite people of all time is John Paul II, and00:31:00I've been in his presence about ten different times, now. World Youth Day gatherings or private audiences or papal parades or something like that. So, I kind of like followed him a little bit.
DEGNATS: Yeah. I was in Rome a few years ago, and it was his weekly meeting, andI was impressed on how he acknowledged the different groups that were there. The different groups of pilgrims, and how they would respond to him.
DEGNATS: They were all dressed in similar shirts, or they'd have the same hatson or, you know, and he would speak to them.
SCHLOSSER: Well, they know who's there. They're briefed on who's in the audiencebecause you know when you get those tickets, it has the origin of the country- And all that. So, like they know who's there, and obviously they'll see the flags, so they can know by the flags as well. And those popes are incredibly intelligent people. They know many languages, so they'll greet people in their native tongue, you know. They'll read it, and because they obviously know how to read, and sometimes they -- you know, that's language --
SCHLOSSER: That they're quite familiar with.00:32:00
DEGNATS: So did you go on for with your education past your undergraduate degree?
SCHLOSSER: I took a break, and then I went right to work, and I worked at apension fund management company that was called Syscore and later part of Security Pacific Bank, which later became Bank of America. And I went to another bank called the Mitsubishi Bank of California, which later became the Bank of California, which became the Mitsubishi Bank of California, and I did that up through the nineties, then -- that was all in California -- and from there I moved to Georgia. I moved to Georgia in the early ninties.
DEGNATS: What brought you to Georgia?
SCHLOSSER: So, on the side, I was involved in the entertainment business in LosAngeles at promoting actresses and singers, and when you did this, you would often go to these post-event parties. And you know, at these post-event parties, 00:33:00there was just a lot of immoral activity, and I realized that this is not the right thing for me, so I just wanted to break away from that for the sake of my soul. So, I basically picked up a dart and threw it on the map of the United States, and it landed in Atlanta, Georgia.
DEGNATS: OK, did you literally pick up a dart and throw it?
SCHLOSSER: People always ask that.
DEGNATS: Did you really?
SCHLOSSER: Uh-huh. But I aimed low. I don't like cold weather.
DEGNATS: Oh, OK, so ( ). And it landed right in Atlanta, too? That was prettygood. It didn't land in Athens, Georgia or Savannah.
SCHLOSSER: Oh, it landed in Georgia.
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, it landed in Georgia. And yeah, I had to look for a big city.
DEGNATS: OK, so you came here, and I guess, were you trying to get out offinance as well?
SCHLOSSER: Nope, I stayed in finance. I work for a company called LanierBusiness Products, and they basically -- the company was a seller of Ricoh products. And I worked in finance there, in the international finance there in the nineties. And then at the end of the nineties, there was something called 00:34:00the internet that just came about, and I would read about all these internet millionaires, and I thought, "Man, if some secretary for Bill Gates can become a millionaire just because she's at the right company, I'm going to try that too." So, I left Lanier, and I went to a company called Mindspring Internet Service, which later became Earthlink. And I started off in the collections department? Something like that -- something kind of financially related, where I could, you know, have some kind of qualification. Took a cut in pay, but I got stock options, and then it did great, and then you know, the bubble burst. So, but I enjoyed the company. And then -- I did that until January of two-thousand -- well, January -- October of 2004. In January of 2004 because I did all this traveling, and I loved Italy, I decided to come to Georgia State to take Italian 00:35:00classes, and I started taking Italian here in January, 2004, and one of -- because I still enjoyed being a practicing Catholic, I realized that there was no Catholic program here at Georgia State, so I talked to the archdiocese of Atlanta, the governing body of Catholicism in Atlanta, and I said, "Hey, there's no Catholic program at Georgia State. I would like to help start one or advise, or do something." And they said, "Great! We've been looking to start one, and maybe you can help us start it." So, along with another priest, we started the Catholic Student Association at Georgia State in April of 2004, and we had our first Mass on campus in May of 2004. At the same time, I was still working at Earthlink, and then I didn't do anything at Georgia State over the summer. And then I came back, and said, "Hey, you know, this is something I can do on my lunch break," because at Earthlink you had very flexible time. You could do things on your lunch break -- take longer lunch breaks, as long as you got the work done. And then I said, "I'm going to spend more time trying to build this 00:36:00Catholic program." And then I realized I would rather do this than, you know, work in finance. At that point in 2004, I was doing finance for about twenty years, so I just talked to Earthlink, my boss, and said, "You know what? I just don't think this is right for me any more. We need to part ways." So, after -- in October of 2004, I left Earthlink, but I didn't come straight here. I thought, "You know what? I think I need to do some traveling before I start." So, I -- from October, November, December of 2004, I hiked up Mount Kilimanjaro, I went hiking in the Andes Mountains. I did some hiking in Central America, traveled in Central America. So, I got like the travel out of my system, and then in 2005, January I started with the Catholic Students Association at Georgia State, just building up the progaram. So, and that's what I do now.
DEGNATS: We're going to talk about Georgia State in just a second, but a couple00:37:00more questions here just kind of about your adulthood. What role does religion play in your life right now, as far as your religious practices go?
SCHLOSSER: Well, I'm the campus minister here at Georgia State.
SCHLOSSER: So, obviously it's very important --
SCHLOSSER: To me. Not only is it my job, but it's -- my job is a religious job.I'm a lay person doing a religious job, so I -- and personally, I try to attend Mass every day, and I pray throughout the day.
DEGNATS: Where do you attend Mass every day?
SCHLOSSER: We have Mass on campus here. I was actually passing out these fliers --
SCHLOSSER: But there you go. That's what our chapel looks like. It's not a verygood -- that's like the crown of the cleanest copy, but you can see it has a picture of our chapel here. We just celebrated our one year anniversary of having the chapel here at Georgia State.
DEGNATS: Where is it?
SCHLOSSER: It's in U.C.
DEGNATS: U -- University Center, I see that.
SCHLOSSER: It used to be a sorority room, and now you can see -- if this were abetter picture -- you know, we have our chair, we have the altar, and then we 00:38:00have the tabernacle. And then what's really faded is that cross, crucifix.
DEGNATS: Yeah, I see that.
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, kind of. And then we have icons. You know, from travels allover the world, I pick up icons, and we put those -- we've put those in the chapel. So, that's kind of my job, to be a religious person or motivate students to practice --
DEGNATS: Do you have holy water in there?
SCHLOSSER: We do.
DEGNATS: From the Vatican?
SCHLOSSER: We've gotten it from Lourdes.
DEGNATS: Oh, nice.
SCHLOSSER: And we've gotten holy water from the Vatican, but Holy Water has ashelf-life, so to speak.
DEGNATS: It does? What is the shelf-life?
SCHLOSSER: Depends on what the priest determines.
DEGNATS: OK. (Laughter)
SCHLOSSER: When it comes to matters of the liturgy, I just follow what thepriest says.
DEGNATS: I'm curious --
SCHLOSSER: One thing about me, I'm an obedient person, so if the leader says,"This is what should be done," I just follow what the leader says.
DEGNATS: I'm curious, have you ever wanted to be a priest?
SCHLOSSER: People ask me that many times --
DEGNATS: I'm sure. (Laughter)
SCHLOSSER: I've never felt the call.00:39:00
DEGNATS: You've never felt the call. Was anybody in your family a priest or a nun?
SCHLOSSER: I only have one brother, and not -- he's married. And my mother was alibrarian at a Catholic school, close to many Catholic priests, but she was married, so nobody in my family a religious.
SCHLOSSER: I'm as close to a -- as religious in my family as anybody.
DEGNATS: OK. And do you -- have you ever had a chance to study other religions --
DEGNATS: Or other philosophies?
SCHLOSSER: Yes. I've taken classes here on Religious Studies.
DEGNATS: Oh, OK, which ones?
SCHLOSSER: I've studied -- I mean, I've studied Judaism. I took a class fromProfessor McClymond on Judaism. I've gone to temples, and so obviously I know a little bit about Judaism. I've studied Islam, you know, a little bit here, but mostly at talks at my parish, St. Philip Benizi in Jonesboro. And then I've, you know, just read about, you know, Church of Latter Day Saints and Bahai and 00:40:00Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, but definitely not an expert on any of those.
DEGNATS: And do you accept all of those as valid paths to God?
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, so again in the Catholic Church, we teach -- and this is notknown by too many people, even Catholics -- that even though we believe that our religion is the one true religion, people in the other faiths that are good followers of those faiths, still have a chance for Heaven if they've never been -- talked about Jesus. You know, if they've never had a good discussion about Jesus that he's the Messiah; that's never been presented to them, then they still have a chance for Heaven. You know, a good Jewish person still has a chance for Heaven. And Heaven -- in Heaven, it's the same God, the same Heaven for all, and we always say like, "You're going to be surprised who you see in Heaven one day if you get there." You know, it could be Gandhi, you know? 00:41:00
SCHLOSSER: Gandhi could be in Heaven. I mean, we brought -- I think he is. Hewas a good, you know, good person of his religion. Many great rabbis are probably going to be in Heaven. You know, all these people are like, "Wow, you weren't Catholic. How did you get to Heaven?" Because God allows many people into Heaven.
DEGNATS: What is your conception of Heaven, of the afterlife?
SCHLOSSER: I think about that many times, trust me. I mean, number one, youknow, being an athlete, I always think like, "I'm going to be able to do any sport I can." Like, I've never been able to dunk a basketball here, so I can now dunk a basketball. But I don't if that matters anymore. I think that you're going to be able to -- because it's for eternity you'll need eternity to talk to all these people you've always wanted to talk to. Like one day I'll get to spend with Moses, you know? Another day, I'll get to hang out with Abraham. Every day I'll get to be with Jesus. Another day I'll hang out with some famous athletes. Another day, I'll get to hang out with Mother Teresa; another day with John Paul 00:42:00II; another day with Gandhi; another day with Thomas Merton. You know, like see what they're like, you know. And then another part of it just, you know, I'm very curious like what happened during medieval times. What really happened during the Crusades, and you'll get to like relive that. Like, "Oh, wow, this person wasn't as bad as history says this person was," or "This person was worse than, you know, history says."
SCHLOSSER: I think you'll get to like relive history. And then of course,throughout the whole day, you're -- you know, you're praising God. And then I sometimes think like I'm going to be able to eat the greatest meals ever, but then I also think like, you don't really need to eat, you know. You're going to take on a reincarnated body, a resurrected body -- not reincarnated --
SCHLOSSER: Resurrected body. You're going to be changed. You're going to be likeAdam. You know Adam and Eve. You'll get to talk to Adam and Eve and when they were created, they're the greatest physical specimens ever, so you get to take on that resurrected body. So, I imagine many different things about Heaven. Many different things. 00:43:00
DEGNATS: Do you have any favorite authors that you read? I just -- you justmentioned Thomas Merton; that's what made me ask that.
SCHLOSSER: I've read Thomas Merton, you know, many books by him. I like him. Ilike C.S. Lewis. I like J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Hobbit just came out. I like the Bible. I read the Bible often. I don't read that much. You know, I read the texts that are assigned to me in class -- I like Professor Ruprecht's book. I thought he wrote some very good books. You know, so -- yeah I have probably -- I think have fix or six of his books. I guess if favorite means having a lot of number of books of that author, then he's also one of my favorites.
DEGNATS: Yeah. And have there been any particular experience at Mass that youcan remember, like an actual Mass? You know, other than the one that you had in --
SCHLOSSER: One great experience was -- again, I try to go to Mass every day --so I was in Germany, Munich with some friends. We just came off the train. It was five o'clock in the morning Sunday, and they said, "What are we going to 00:44:00do?" I said, "I don't know guys, but it's Sunday. We should try to go to Mass." So it was quiet, five o'clock in the morning. Said, "Well, there's a cathedral right over there." And Mass didn't start until 6:30, and we said, "We'll just wait here." So, we went to Mass. Nothing mystical happened during it, but after the Mass, we were with our backpacks, and these ladies came to us -- the older ladies and said, "Hey, I see you guys are traveling." Said, "Yeah." Said like, "Where are you staying?" And you know, we just went on the fly. "I don't know. We haven't found any -- we just got here. We don't know." She said, "Well, we're with a group, a travel group, and we're leaving our hotel now. If you want, you can have the hotel for the rest of the day because we paid for it and, you know, take a shower and all that." So, the moral of the story is that, you know, in going to Mass, something good always happens. So, in this case, going to Mass meant we got the use of a five-star hotel, and we too multiple showers and slept in and all that.
SCHLOSSER: So that was that worldly benefit. But many times, going to Mass justgives you peace, like, you know, from that stressful day. Mass here on campus is about thirty minutes, so it just gives you a time for peace and to collect your thoughts. You hear the scripture. You get to reflect on that. You just get to relax for thirty minutes in the day. You know, as a campus minister, one thing I tell students is like, "Yes, your priority is school, but you should have a balance in life." And what does balance mean? Balance means that you have to eat well, you have to exercise, you have to sleep well, but you should also spend time praying, you know, so, some form of prayer. And for Catholics, the greatest form of prayer is the Mass, so I tell them like, "Even if you can come to Mass. It's thirty minutes. If you can only come ten minutes of the Mass, you're still going to -- we still accept you for that.
DEGNATS: OK. Do you ever grapple with the Trinity?
SCHLOSSER: What part of it?
DEGNATS: Three in one.
SCHLOSSER: As -- you know, there's a great story that they teach in Catholic00:46:00school. St. Augustine was walking on the beach, and he saw a little kid run into the ocean, getting sand and trying to -- or get water in the ocean; he had a hole and putting water from the ocean into that hole. And he would run back to the ocean with his barrel or spoon, whatever it was, pick up some water, put it in the hole. And St. Augustine, "What are you trying to do?" And the son -- the kid said, "Well, I'm trying to put all the water in this ocean into this hole." And the kid said to saint -- St. Augustine said, "That's impossible." And the kid said to St. Augustine, "That is more possible for me to put all of the water of the ocean into this hole than for you to understand the Trinity."
SCHLOSSER: So --
SCHLOSSER: If St. Augustine couldn't --
DEGNATS: Couldn't do it.
SCHLOSSER: Handle it, I'm not going to even attempt it. I just follow what theCatholic Church teaches.
DEGNATS: Right. You said you've been to Lourdes.
SCHLOSSER: Yes, many times.
DEGNATS: What was your experience there?00:47:00
SCHLOSSER: So, I -- one of the goals of my life is to go to all the apparitionsites of Mary. So if you list -- you know, you go Google apparition sites, you'll see there's about eighty of them.
DEGNATS: Really, that many?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, there's a lot of them, like Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe are thecertified ones of the Church. And then all the other ones that have a lot of following are in Medjugorje, Spain, Betania in Venezuela, Knock in Ireland, Aylesford in England. So, I've been to those, and what I experience in going to any of those is just great peace.
SCHLOSSER: I went to one in Garabandal, Spain, which is in the northern part ofSpain. And the train took me to a certain area, and then I got -- I said, "I've got to go here." So, I took a taxi to the mountain where this apparition happened. And during the apparition, one of the amazing things was that these 00:48:00children -- three of them ran down a hill faster than any human being would have run down -- this was on video tape -- ran down a hill because they were in ecstasy. And they would open up their mouths during certain points of the day, and nobody-was -- knew what that was happening, but angels were giving them communion. And so, when I was there, once again, I didn't receive any vision, but I just felt a great sense of peace. And there's something great about here, you know, a great spirituality -- that this is a religious place, holy religious place, but great spirituality happens here as well. So, again, when I was telling you I'm religious and spiritual because I can experience both. You know, that's -- both of those are part of my life. In Lourdes, the great thing is that they have these baths for healing. And I did that myself. And I didn't really have any physical ailment, but it was just a good cleansing experience. You know that -- the water was a little cool, but the towel was even cooler, but once you 00:49:00were there, you realized that hey, people -- some people believe that they can actually be healed and there have been healings, certified healings, so what's wrong with somebody believing they can be healed and trying to get healed and maybe not happening but being healed with a sense of peace, know you? Because so many people don't even have peace during the day And through these various apparition sites, at the very least, gives you peace.
DEGNATS: Have you ever been to any other spiritual sites that aren't Catholic,or sites that are said to be spiritual?
DEGNATS: I'm thinking of Sedona, Machu Picchu --
SCHLOSSER: I've been to Machu Picchu. And Machu Picchu -- because the day -- thetime I went, it's so touristy. It was too commercial for me.
SCHLOSSER: Even though there's the sundial there, where people think -- likeMachu Picchu's considered one of the seven spiritual cities of the world, you 00:50:00know, along with Jerusalem, and Assisi in Italy, and four others that I can't think of right now, but Jerusalem, Machu Picchu, Assisi, maybe the one in India -- what is that called? But there's where --
DEGNATS: Where the Gandhi -- where the river -- Where the rivers emerge. That'sanother spiritual city, and you know, sometimes you go there and it seems too commercial, but other times you do get that sense of peace, you know, where there's some amazing spiritual presence there, and you just get to feel something, you know something better about it.
DEGNATS: Yeah. Have you ever been to -- were you -- did you ever go to Conyers, Georgia?
SCHLOSSER: Yes, I did.
DEGNATS: You did?
DEGNATS: So, that was still happening when you -- because I --
SCHLOSSER: (Coughing) When I arrived to Georgia, yeah. I think it -- that wastoward the tail-end of it.
SCHLOSSER: I arrived in the early nineties. I think they stopped those visionsin the mid-nineties.
DEGNATS: Did you have any experience there?
SCHLOSSER: Only seeing a whole bunch of people. So, another great thing when you00:51:00go to these religious places is -- you know, World Youth Day, there's millions of people that attend, and there's no crime. You know, and what are the odds of a million people doing anything together and no crime?
SCHLOSSER: When I went to Australia, afterward, you know, they would talk to thepolice, and they would say, "Well, what was it like?" And, you know, the police would say, "We could have handled all these, you know, people with a shoestring, in terms of security." Like, nobody was going to do anything wrong. They didn't need guns -- They didn't neded multiple backup.
SCHLOSSER: That's how peaceful, how positive are at these religious places.
DEGNATS: That's great.
SCHLOSSER: Human beings, you know, that we're all -- where so many people commitcrime and when they come for something like that, suddenly everybody's good to one another.
DEGNATS: Well, we're going to segue just a little into just a little bit aboutGeorgia State. But first, are you single? Have you been married? 00:52:00
SCHLOSSER: I've been married.
DEGNATS: Was your wife Catholic?
SCHLOSSER: She wasn't Catholic. I got married because she's a beauty contestant,so I fell in love with her physical beauty. She had a great personality, but the marriage didn't last, so we got a divorce.
DEGNATS: Did you have any children?
SCHLOSSER: I have one daughter. We had one daughter, and so when my ex-wife andI got married, she wasn't Catholic, but something happened later where she became Catholic.
DEGNATS: Oh, OK.
SCHLOSSER: And she actually invited me to her baptism confirmation. And then mydaughter was brought up Catholic. And so, she's off and on practicing.
DEGNATS: OK. OK. Well, let's talk about Georgia State first.
DEGNATS: What is your strongest memory of religion associated with Georgia State?
SCHLOSSER: Well, starting off the Catholic Student Association has to be at the top.
SCHLOSSER: You know, prior to coming here, there was no Catholicism on campus,00:53:00no Catholic program, so I helped start that. And when I came here in 2004 -- and I tell this to people -- I don't recall religion being important at Georgia State --
SCHLOSSER: Or really for anybody, other than Baptist Campus Ministry. And theyhave their office in the old Coca-Cola building on Courtland. Do you know where that is? That brown building?
DEGNATS: Yes. Yeah.
SCHLOSSER: So that's the only thing that I knew of when I entered Georgia State.But now, Georgia State has one of the better Muslim student associations in the United States. Hillel's very strong. Baptist Campus Ministry is still strong. The Methodists have come back. Intervarsity's very strong at Georgia State. Like, all these have happened since I've been here. Now, is that a reaction to the Catholic program being stronger, like all these other places -- all these other faiths are saying, "Hey, we've got to do something because the Catholic 00:54:00students have done -- " I think so because the students will tell you like, you know, "We know that you're Catholic, and we see you out here every day in the plaza, and you help motivate us too, you know, with our religion." So, their religions are becoming stronger because they're forced to to keep up with the Catholics.
SCHLOSSER: And then I used to -- it used to be jealous when another studentwould not join the Catholic Student Association and would hang out with Intervarsity or Baptist Campus Ministry. But then later on, I matured in thinking. I thought, "You know what? If that student has some religion in his or her life, and it's meaningful to that student during college years, does it have to be Catholicism? And that's still also good."
DEGNATS: How do you see yourself in comparison with other people at GeorgiaState in terms of religion and what similarities and differences have you found ( ) --
SCHLOSSER: Well --
DEGNATS: more on the individual level?00:55:00
SCHLOSSER: Obviously I practice every day, so that's different than probablyninety-nine percent of people at Georgia State.
DEGNATS: (Laughter) OK.
SCHLOSSER: And I just read a USA Today article that non-religious people aretwenty percent of our population. You know, it used to be maybe twenty years ago that, you know, fifty percent were Protestant, twenty-five percent were Catholic, ten percent were Jewish, Muslim, and then two percent were atheist, non-religious. Now, non-religious are twenty percent. So, twenty percent of the United States could care less about religion. That has -- put that on the sampling -- probably even more. At Georgia State, it might be a higher percentage. Like, "Hey," the students will say, "I'm spiritual. I believe in God, and that's good enough for me."
DEGNATS: How does that make you feel?
SCHLOSSER: I feel that they're missing something. I really do because I see -- Ilisten to these -- I listen to people when they talk. I just observe them by 00:56:00like, will I ever see this person? And when I see them, sometimes I see them as incredibly stressed out or something -- or they're not happy. And I just think to myself, "You know what? If you just had one percent of your day dedicated to God, I think you'd be a lot better person." I think that to myself.
DEGNATS: How would you answer somebody that would say to you, "Well, that's allwell and fine, but look at all of the wars that religion have caused. Look at all of the -- look what's gone on inside the Catholic Church -- "
DEGNATS: "With the priests." How would you answer that?
SCHLOSSER: Well, number one, I would give them the Catholic Catechism answer.And you know, why does it -- God allow evil to happen in this world? Why does God allow bad priests? Why does God allow sexual abuse? And the Catholic Catechism answer is, you know, God allows that evil to happen because He knows that out of that evil event, something good will happen, and that good will be 00:57:00better than that evil that happened.
SCHLOSSER: So, 9-11, you know? God allowed that to happen. He could have stoppedthat at any moment, but it happened, and because it happened, now we have better security for everybody. After it happened, many people went to church -- you know, prayed for all the victims of 9-11. And for awhile, people were more practicing -- religious practicing in the church. And then of course, it died off.
SCHLOSSER: But again, the answer is that- God knows it's going to happen, allowsit to happen, but something good, something better comes out of it.
DEGNATS: How many students a day do you have attending Mass?
SCHLOSSER: So, we'll get anywhere from five to forty students in our campus --in our chapel for daily Mass. And then for holy days, we'll get anywhere from 00:58:00sixty to a hundred students. And then for Ash Wednesday, which is next February 13th, next month February 13th, we will get anywhere from two-hundred to three-hundred students, of all Christian faiths, not just Catholics. They think that getting the ashes is a cool thing, kind of like tattoos.
DEGNATS: Oh, really? (Laughter)
SCHLOSSER: I guess. I don't know. You know, I don't know why some of them comefor ashes. And they'll come to -- and then in the other events. It's not a holy day of obligation, and we're happy that they're there, but it's a big deal to them.
DEGNATS: Now, you don't say Mass. You have a priest that comes?
SCHLOSSER: Yes, uh-huh. I do not say Mass. Our priest, his name is FatherStephen Lyness. He's on this bulletin. Father Stephen Lyness -- yeah --
DEGNATS: OK. And what church is he from?
SCHLOSSER: He's a Catholic priest, and he resides at Mary Our Queen in Norcross.
DEGNATS: And what is your home church now?
SCHLOSSER: My home church is St. Philip Benizi in Jonesboro.
DEGNATS: OK, and do you -- other than attending Mass -- are you involved in the00:59:00church in any way?
SCHLOSSER: So, of course, Campus Minister here.
SCHLOSSER: And that means coordinating all the events that the students do here,which is Bible Studies, weekly gatherings -- we just went to a conference in Orlando, Florida called Focus Fellowship of Catholic University Students -- so all my Catholic involvement is here at Georgia State.
SCHLOSSER: Every now and then at my parish, I'll help out with some spiritualityeffort or some service project. So, in addition to religion that we do for Catholic students, we're also involved in ministry here or in the community. And our two big events are homeless ministry and crisis pregnancy. So, between November 1st and March 30th, we help out at the Central Night Shelter, which is the overnight shelter for a hundred men at the Central Presbyterian Church and 01:00:00Shrine of Immaculate Conception. And then we also help out with Care Net Crisis Pregnancy, which is right on the Georgia State campus, right across from Hurt Park. And these are women -- single women -- that got pregnant, and we're asking them to save their baby, not have an abortion. And because they're saving their baby, we provide them with medical care and baby care, you know, diapers and housing and different things related to raising a baby.
DEGNATS: OK. And this is right on the campus here?
SCHLOSSER: I say it's on the campus, but -- you know where Hurt Park is?
SCHLOSSER: So, you know where the United Way building -- what's called theUnited Way building --
SCHLOSSER: 100 Edgewood, which is right across the street from Hurt Park, that'swhere that is.
SCHLOSSER: Care Net Pregnancy Center.
DEGNATS: OK. If someone were to ask you to describe the religious environment atGeorgia State University, what would you say?
SCHLOSSER: It's not a very religiously oriented campus, you know? But the01:01:00university does allow us to have our religious events, and it's gotten better. And because religions are doing better at Georgia State, the university has given many religious -- student religious organizations funding through the diversity fee. So, it helps us with providing -- or giving us money to provide programs for the students. And then also, the -- I helped the university start something called Religions of the World. It happens in November where we have just a bunch of -- a whole lot of different food. Religions, Holidays of the World -- I think it's called Holidays of the World now. And we have different booths by the religious organizations, and they talk about their religion and share some food with the students. You know, all for free -- the university paid for that.
DEGNATS: Oh, that's nice.
SCHLOSSER: Again, the religious -- the school is not anti-religious, know you ithas a Religious Studies department. But in terms of, you know, does Professor 01:02:00Becker say, "Hey, students, it's Sunday. I hope you're going to Mass," you know, "going to some service." I've never heard them say that.
DEGNATS: Do you think the faculty -- have you ever had much interaction with thefaculty at Georgia State --
SCHLOSSER: Yeah --
DEGNATS: In terms of religion.
SCHLOSSER: There's many Catholic faculty members here, and a few of themactually come to our services. But they go to the service and then they, you know, go to class. In terms of talking about Catholic Student Association after, doesn't happen. You know, our advisor's Catholic. She's the head of the Honor's Program, April Lawhorn, and so, she'll talk about religious things here at Georgia State. Three years ago, the father of one of the soccer players died, and she's Catholic, and the coach, the former coach of the women's soccer team was Domini Martelli, he's Catholic. And so we had a Mass for the women's soccer team. And I think all of them showed up for that. So, we help at the university 01:03:00whenever they ask us to help out on a religious event or religious involvement. At the start of Student Government initiation, they now ask our priest to say an opening prayer, and that didn't use to happen. And I think there's another event where the university asked for a religious leader to say a prayer, opening or closing prayer, and of course, they asked me to get our Catholic priest. So, things are a little better --
SCHLOSSER: Than when I first came here.
DEGNATS: Has there been any -- have you ever had any times when you feel likereligion or Catholicism has actually been confronted --
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah.
DEGNATS: Or attacked at Georgia State?
SCHLOSSER: Definitely. And that always happens when this group of fundamentalist-- I was going to preface it with Christian fundamentalist, but I really don't 01:04:00think they're Christian. They'll come to campus, and -- have you ever seen them in the plaza?
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, so they'll demonstrate with their banners, you know, Muslimsare condemned, fornicators are condemned, partiers are condemned. I'm trying to pull up one of their banners. And they -- and many students will come to me and say like, "Are you behind this?" or "Do you support this?" And then what I hand them is a flyer that says, "God is love." And because I don't want them to think that Catholics promote hate, which these guys are coming to campus and they're very judgmental, very hateful. And what I found out is that they are a group of preachers -- here's the banner. You've seen that, right?
DEGNATS: Yeah, I think I have that same picture, yeah.
SCHLOSSER: So, they're a group of- Preachers, and they're here to practice --01:05:00Yep, they're here to practice, and they want students to confront them because that's good for them practicing. So, drunkards are condemned, adulterers, players, sodomites, covetous, fornicates, or backsliders. And I've actually talked to them before, and I've told them like, "Where in the Bible does it teach this?" And they've condemned me as well. So, I can connect with the students in terms of like, not only am I not connected to them, but they've condemned me as well. (Laughter)
DEGNATS: But they have the right to be there because it's a public university?Is that --
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah.
DEGNATS: The problem?
SCHLOSSER: And their attorneys talk to Georgia State --
DEGNATS: Oh, they have attorneys?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah! Because they're looking for some student to hitthem because everything is filmed, and if some student hits them then they get to sue the school and make money.
DEGNATS: Wow, so they're --
SCHLOSSER: So, their attorneys in advance of their gathering contact theattorneys of Georgia State saying, "We're here for these three days. We have a 01:06:00right to be here." And of course, Georgia State has to spend money on cops, and the cops have to keep the students away from them, and hopefully there's never any physical confrontation.
DEGNATS: Have you ever had any students that are questioning, you know, eitherquestioning God or questioning your religion --
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah.
DEGNATS: Come to you to debate or to --
DEGNATS: Yep, some of them will -- so these flyers here, when I post them oncampus in a kiosk, I notice that not only are they sometimes posted over, but sometimes they're just taken down and ripped in half because there's some angry students that something happened in their life that the Catholic Church upset them about. And so they're so pissed off that they don't even want to see the flyer that doesn't say anything anti- anything. It just tells us that we have a Mass on campus, but for that student -- students, for us to have a Mass is very negative toward them.
SCHLOSSER: So, that's one not interactive negative thing about what I'm doing.Secondly, there are students that will just pass by -- so in the plaza, I have a table there when it's not raining, and I'll just -- at the table I have like -- just pass out these flyers just to tell people that we have Mass on campus. And there's some students that will just take this and ball it up and throw it back at me. I've never had any more than like a three second outburst by any student. You know, "Why are you here? Why are Catholics here?" You know, "You have pedophile priests," or you know, you do this or that. And they'll just say, you know, laugh at Catholicism or, you know, "You guys have done wrong things too," and then move on. But they will -- I would love to have a discussion -- And find out what is hurting them about the Catholic, you know the Catholic Church. Oh, we had one time a speaker, and one of the hot topics here -- two hot topics at 01:08:00Georgia State are homosexuality, and abortion. So, many people think that the Catholic Church is anti-homosexual. We are not anti-homosexual. Our rules say that premarital sex is wrong whether you're heterosexual or homosexual. That's our rule. Do Catholics practice premarital sex? Yes, many people have flaws, OK? However, we are not anti- the person, we're anti- the sin. So, again in our rule, premarital sex is wrong whether it's heterosexual or homosexual. So, I have to tell them that. Many people don't know that. Secondly, we have homosexual Catholics. We work with homosexual Catholics, but we ask them to be chaste because in the Catholic Church marriage is only between a man and a 01:09:00woman, so you can't have a homosexual marriage in the Catholic Church. So, those are the rules, and we try to get people to work with our rules who want to be Catholic. Last year, I actually helped confirm a gay Catholic student -- a student -- a gay student. He became Catholic. He wanted to become Catholic and work within our rules, and we didn't judge him negatively because he was homosexual, we just told him like, "During this time, you're going to have to be chaste. You can't have a relationship with a man. You can't have a relationship with a woman." Just like we would tell anybody. So, that was one thing. Getting to your point, abortion -- every now and then we'll have a speaker, a pro-life speaker, who will just come and give the conservative Catholic viewpoint on abortion. Many students here are pro-choice, and sometimes, some are 01:10:00pro-abortion, so they get very upset when we have speakers like this. And one time, when we had a speaker like this, the group called, Feminist at Georgia State or -- oh, I can't remember the name -- Focus on Feminism. I think that's the name of the group. They protested before our -- during our presentation, and we had to -- we called the police and tell them like, "Hey, we don't mind them protesting, but this is our presentation. We want our presenter to actually have time to present. We paid for this guy." So, the police had to kick them out. And of course, they were upset. They were upset with the Catholic s--upset about the presenters. And one of the students afterward talked to me, and she was crying, and she said, "Rudy, I had an abortion, and I'm not -- I don't feel guilty about having that abortion because I know that I couldn't take care of that baby, and 01:11:00so that was the right choice I had to make." And I didn't judge -- say like, you know, "You're condemned to Hell." I just listened to her the whole time while she was crying, and I told her like, "At any point, if you ever want to talk more about this, you can. If you ever want me to go to your group and talk about it, why the Catholic Church believes these things, I'm willing to do that." But they never invited me. So, for that moment, you know, this student and I, this pro-abortion student and me the pro-life Catholic bonded for a little bit in terms of sharing humanity. So, that was something that could have been really negative that was a little positive.
DEGNATS: Yeah, that's great.
DEGNATS: Good. Well, I think we've run through most of these. Are there anyother questions that I've left out that would be important for my understand your religious life? Or is there anything else you want to talk about that we haven't touched upon?
SCHLOSSER: Anything else? I think like, again, I try to tell people that when01:12:00you go to Mass, something good will always happen. And I told you the stories about, you know, the travel in Europe.
SCHLOSSER: About Mount Sinai, about just getting a sense of peace when you go toMass. And it's part of what I tell students in terms of having a balanced life. You know that -- you have to study, you should eat well, you should exercise, but you should also spend a little bit of time on your relationship with God. So, those are the things that I try to live and try to tell people. I can't think of anything that just really stands out that would be so meaningful to tell you other than many students have appreciated what I've done here on campus. And many of the administration have appreciated what we do on campus. Another really cool thing that we do at Georgia State through the Catholic Student Association is every Friday -- not too many people know this -- but 01:13:00every Friday, the university catering will gather up all the food that prior to us being here they would just dump, and they gather it up for us, and we take it to the homeless shelter.
DEGNATS: Do you really?
SCHLOSSER: Oh, yeah. Every Friday.
DEGNATS: When do you do that?
SCHLOSSER: 3:30 PM on Fridays. So, in one hour, that's what I'll be doing. Butprior to this group being here, that used to be dumped. And I will take maybe what would be sold for five thousand dollars a week -- three to five thousand dollars a week -- again, you know, this is like, you know, a portion would cost seven dollars, so I'll take a whole tray -- that would be like a hundred dollar tray -- and then there's about ten of those trays -- so a thousand dollars worth of food trays, plus bagels, plus fruits, plus -- you know, again, two thousand to five thousand worth of food the cost -- the retail value of that food -- the cost is probably like maybe five hundred dollars -- and it goes to the homeless. So we are doing somethingnd community oriented. So, that's a really cool thing 01:14:00that we o at the Catholic Student Association that would not be done if this association were not here. But many -- I'm also the leader of the Council of the Interfaith Concerns, so I get to see what the other religious groups are doing. And you know, the Baptist Campus Ministry, they do a lot for the international students, and they have service projects, you know, to, you know, New Orleans or Appalachia or some -- or Haiti. Intervarsity, they helped out with Haiti after the earthquake. Wesley Foundation has gone to Alabama to help rebuild homes in Alabama. So, many of the religious groups are doing great volunteering services that the university doesn't even know about because the groups are just doing it just because. You know, they're not doing it to get attention. You know, we have the Office of Civic Engagement that tracks volunteering hours of the students, and I'm sure this office would love to know that students are doing all this volunteering work that's not even tracked because it looks good for Georgia State. But again, these religious groups are doing it just because it's the 01:15:00right thing to do. So, many times we'll advertise -- when we have an event, it's like -- and we'll say like, you know, "Come help serve the homeless." And I'll always put at the bottom, "You don't have to be religious to help out. You just have to want to help out another human being."
DEGNATS: So, you would accept people that aren't Catholic to go and help?
SCHLOSSER: Yeah, anybody! Like, that's how we start off. You know, we will startoff -- like every Wednesday, we have a gathering, free food for all the students, and anybody's invited. I always think to myself, you know what, "That student may never know what Catholicism is about other than 'They sure eat well, and they give -- '"
SCHLOSSER: They share the food that they have.'"
SCHLOSSER: So, you know, we're -- I'm trying to give Catholicism a good namethat we're not just something religious. You know, we actually care about your community involvement. We care about your physical well-being. We care about your mental health. Additionally, we would like for you to hear about our Catholic program -- what Catholicism is about -- that we don't worship Mary, 01:16:00that we don't worship the saints, that, you know, all people have a chance to make it to Heaven. So many people -- things that people don't know about Catholicism. We don't hate gay people. We don't even hate people who've committed abortion. You know, we believe in the value of life from the cradle to the grave, one hundred percent, that at any point, if somebody strays, we don't hate that person. We hate the sin that that person's committed, and we try to work with that person to come back to the heal -- you know, being healed. So, that's also important about Catholicism.
DEGNATS: Great. Well, that's wonderful. Well, thank you very much. I just haveto get a little bit of demographic information.
DEGNATS: And some of these questions are going to be duplicates, so just bearwith me.
SCHLOSSER: Sorry about my scratchy voice!
DEGNATS: What is your occupation?
SCHLOSSER: Here? I'm the Campus Minister at Georgia State.
DEGNATS: OK, and that's your -- so, it's Campus Minister.
SCHLOSSER: Campus Minister.
DEGNATS: OK. And is it for the Catholic --
SCHLOSSER: For the Cath -- I mean, I cater to -- I'm here for the Catholic01:17:00Student Association, but all students are welcome to our programs.
DEGNATS: But you are not ordained?
SCHLOSSER: I'm not ordained.
SCHLOSSER: I'm employed by the Archdiocese of Atlanta, the Roman CatholicArchdiocese of Atlanta. I'm not ordained, but that's where I get my paycheck from.
SCHLOSSER: And I work at Georgia State.
DEGNATS: OK. And when and where were you born?
SCHLOSSER: I was born in Los Angeles, California on November 22nd, 1962.
DEGNATS: OK. And how do you describe your ethnicity?
SCHLOSSER: My father is of German ancestry, although he was born in Bosnia, sohe would consider himself Yugoslavian, even though that country no longer exists, so now he's Bosnian. My mother is -- was born in Mexico, and she's Spanish-Mexican, but I was born in the United States, so I consider myself American.
DEGNATS: American, OK.
SCHLOSSER: A mixed-American, like most of us.
DEGNATS: And what is your educational background?01:18:00
SCHLOSSER: I have a bachelor of arts from Stanford University in InternationalRelations, Finance. And here I'm -- I also -- I'm here post-baccalaureate studying Religious Studies and languages. I'm taking Chinese, Mandarin, third semester.
SCHLOSSER: Very difficult.
DEGNATS: I bet. (Laughter) And what is your marital, partnership status?
SCHLOSSER: Single. Well, fianc -- engaged.
DEGNATS: So, you're engaged. OK. And you have how many children?
SCHLOSSER: One child.
DEGNATS: One child. And your current GSU affiliation? So, you're staff?
SCHLOSSER: A student.
SCHLOSSER: Yep, I've asked -- I've been asked that many times, and my status isstudent. Students have asked me to challenge professors, you know, to mediate on their behalf. And when I do so, a professor will say, "Well, you're just another student. I can't reveal anything to you."
DEGNATS: And what is your current religious affiliation?
SCHLOSSER: Catholic. Roman Catholic.
DEGNATS: Alright. Great. Well, thank you.
DEGNATS: This was really good.
SCHLOSSER: I hope so.