The one-time priest at Amherstburg’s St. John the Baptist church and former president and vice-chancellor of Assumption University in Windsor has precious little time to rest on his laurels — not that Rosica would. He’s headed to Washington this weekend in his role as the English-speaking media attache´ for Pope Francis, who arrives next Tuesday.

Rosica, who has also lived in  Detroit for a year, will handle daily media conferences with all the major networks and newspaper publications. He’s scheduled to be a guest Sunday on the Fox News Morning Show with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington. And it’s Rosica’s group that will work closely with the production crew in charge of all the Jumbotrons employed to capture the pontiff’s visit.

As CEO of Salt and Light TV based in Toronto, Rosica has hosted a weekly show called Witness for 11 years.

Guests earlier in the 2015 season included George Stephanopoulos, the former White House communications director and ABC News personality, and Chris Wallace, veteran television newsman for Fox News and ABC.

As Rosica says, “It’s not your typical Catholic programming.”

He taped the Colbert interview in April but wisely held it back until the former host of the Colbert Report took over as the new host of CBS’s The Late Show.

More than 26,000 viewers watched the entire 45-minute interview.

By comparison, 1,700 dialed in for Rosica’s chat with Stephanopoulos and 380 for the Wallace interview.

Amherstburg lawyer Anthony Leardi thoroughly enjoyed the entertaining mix of banter and thoughtful expression.

“It’s classic Tom Rosica,” said Leardi, who spent three months in Israel with the Basilian priest back in 1993. “He could have hosted a late-night comedy show in the same vein as Stephen Colbert. He could have been Stephen Colbert.”

Leardi was impressed by Colbert’s knowledge of church history and his personal take on faith. Colbert has always been candid about his ties to the Catholic Church.

Early in the interview, a bearded Colbert jokingly challenged Rosica saying: “Just because you got the dog collar doesn’t mean you know more about the Catholic Church than I do.”

Rosica noted he watched several episodes of Colbert’s show during which he poked fun at the church.

“I would just burst out laughing,” Rosica said. “You got away with it. You made us laugh at ourselves.”

Colbert relayed a story about attending an uplifting Anglican mass officiated by a female priest. Then staring straight into the camera he said: “And now, I invite everyone to attack me for suggesting that women should be priests,” referring to the fact the Catholic church says they can’t.

“Your address will be placed on the screen at the end of the interview,” was Rosica’s retort.

Rosica met Colbert in New York through a mutual friend and invited him on the show based on the reaction of his staff.

“My staff is a generation of young adults and they were all taken by him,” said Rosica, 56.

Those same staffers braced him for the tremendous online response to what he calls “a powerful interview” with the a man who cheekily refers to himself as “America’s most famous Catholic.”

“This one certainly shot out of the ballpark,” Rosica conceded.

Richard Corneil, the man who replaced Rosica as vice-chancellor of Assumption University, likes the conversational style he employs on the show.

“It’s engaging with whoever the person is, to talk about how faith is part of their everyday life,” Corneil said.

Corneil has already booked Rosica to deliver a talk at Tecumseh’s Good Shepherd Parish on Nov. 17 as part of Assumption University’s Christian lecture series.

Rosica will be offering his personal reflection on the 2015 Synod of Bishops being held at the Vatican for most of October. It was announced Tuesday that he’ll attend the synod as the English language media attache for the Holy See press office.

While his TV show has received several endorsements from the Vatican, he does not expect to discuss the Colbert interview with the Pope.

“He doesn’t watch TV,” Rosica said.


Originally published in the Windsor Star.