The Rev. Kevin McDonough is a busy man. Not only is he vicar general of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a job with daunting duties and wide-ranging influence, but he's priest at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church in St. Paul. Formerly Father McDonough was the pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish language parish in St Paul and he still retains contact with those parishioners also.
Now Father McDonough, 51, will be busier still. On Wednesday -- his day off -- he was elected chaplain of the Minnesota Senate. (A House chaplain has not yet been named.) Here's what he had to say:
Q How did it go on the Senate floor?
A It was fun. There's a lot of ritual attached to the Senate, just as there is a lot of ritual in [the Roman Catholic church's] formal occasions.
Q How will you find time for this role?
A It won't be that much, just once every two or three weeks. I've been elected as official chaplain, but every session is opened with a prayer by a different member of the clergy. I'd be there a lot if there were a matter that involved national mourning, but then, I'd want to be.
Q How were you chosen?
A [Senate Majority Leader] Larry Pogemiller nominated me. I'm not sure why, but I'm glad he did.
Q What do you most look forward to?
A I've traveled to countries where government doesn't always do right by people, so I'm proud to be part of this and glad to have the opportunity to see a trustworthy government at work.
Q Any counseling duties in this role?
A Not officially, but a brother priest who did it some years ago told me that you are sometimes called upon to be a listening ear. That doesn't happen as much as it used to 100 years ago, because lawmakers can get home and to their home churches more easily now.
Q Any plans to do lobbying on the side?
A No, this role is not related to my official role with the archdiocese. I'll only be trying to lobby the senators into heaven.
Q Faith and politics are sometimes uneasy bedfellows. Do you see any problems in representing a specific faith tradition in a secular setting like the Legislature?
A Actually, as a Roman Catholic, I have a particular sensitivity about that. In nearly 220 years, there's only been one Catholic chaplain in the U.S. Senate, for instance. Of all people, Catholics should be sensitive about being inclusive of many traditions. [...Snip] Pioneer Press