Rarely have I interviewed a religious leader as impressive as [Mariann] Budde. She built a small, struggling parish in Minneapolis into a growing, vibrant spiritual community. In person, she comes across as a deeply spiritual woman: caring, articulate, knowledgeable, democratic in spirit, with a sense of where she hopes to take the diocese.
Later in the interview, I asked her about early influences in her life, and it did my heart good to hear her say that “progressive Catholics” were a major influence in her life in the 1980s. She was referring to those who opposed the Reagan wars in Central America and the folks in the Catholic Worker Movement. She actually lived with homeless people at a Catholic Worker house in Rochester, N.Y. She later related to a Catholic Worker community in Tucson, Ariz., a city where she also found local Methodists inspiring. She says she was moved by the willingness of both to identify closely with the poor.