Jesse's got a very busy schedule, and I would have had the interview done much sooner but I made a big mistake - I failed to put our initial interview date down on my calendar and completely forgot about it until two days later! Fortunately, Jesse's walk with Christ made him a very forgiving and generous person, so we ended up doing the interview over email because his work prohibited a face-to-face over Skype. Without further ado, and with much thanks for his generosity in taking the time to do this, here is our interview - errors and all :)
1. How long have you been involved in Catholic speaking?
I've been presenting for over 25 years.I speak mostly in Catholic settings, but have also been invited to speak in many non-Catholic venues and communities. I am a storyteller, a pastoral musician, a catechist, an evangelizer, and a clown for God. I am also Catholic Christian, struggling disciple of Jesus.
2. How did you get started?
I started by simply playing guitar and singing at mass at a very early age. I taught myself how to play guitar, along with my two older brothers, Frank and Joe, and we managed to get plugged into the life of the church at a very early age. Through the years of middle school, junior high, high school and college, I had the blessing of the encouragement of lots of other adults, musicians, religious sisters and brothers and priests. Encouragement goes a long way!
3. What are some challenges you have had to overcome as a Catholic speaker and presenter?
Wow. Where do I begin? The best of the Church is when she is inclusive, compassionate, merciful,
forgiving, humble, faithful, just, and in a word, CHRIST. The worst is when we, personally and as
Church aren't those things, or in a word, aren't CHRIST. It's the blessed paradox. Other challenges
are simply loneliness on the road, being away from family, and I just plain fatigue and weariness.
4. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get started as a Catholic speaker?
Pray. Pray. Pray. Be active in your present community. Be radically Catholic first. Be reckless in mercy,
compassion, accepting of others, welcoming those who are unwelcomed, inviting those without an invitation. LISTEN to others who encourage you and affirm you as having a gift for speaking. It isn't enough to say, "I feel God is calling me to this." That's NOT ENOUGH CRITERIA!. The community has to call us forth, and just as important, we've got to pray for God's will to be done. "God, I know i want to be a presenter, but is that what you want for me?"
5. What do you wish people knew about Catholic speakers that you don't think they know now?
I wish that people would know that we are just regular folks, just like them. We rise. We fall. We hit the target and we miss it too. We're not celebrities. We support our families with our work, our music, and our gifts, and can use the prayerful support of those we serve.
6. What keeps you motivated to speak before other people?
I am primarily motivated by their phone calls and emails, inviting me to speak and present. From there, I'm motivated by being able to do what I love; make music, make people laugh, and move folks, including myself, to reflect and respond to God's call to be loving presence in the world.
7. What is the biggest mistake you've ever made as a Catholic speaker? What would you do differently now?
I can't remember my biggest mistake, probably because it was probably a doozie and I've mentally blocked it out!
8. What do you like most about speaking in front of Catholic groups?
I love seeing the transformation of a group from beginning to end. It's a beautiful thing to see a room full of people, many of them strangers, and many of them not knowing what to expect. It's like being Disneyland. Exceeding their expectations is a kick!
9. How has your ministry changed over the years as you've gained more experience?
I've tried to listen to my hosts more intentionally and ask them more questions about what they hope for their community. I also try to plug into what they are already working on and might be working on in the future. I've got a lot to learn still. Always and ever the student, am I.
10. Do you have a particular saint that you pray to before speaking or before preparing to speak?
I'll usually pray to the Holy Spirit, asking to help keep me out of the way, and at the end of my prayer, call upon the patron saint of the community. This last week, I gave a parish mission to St. Michael the Archangel in Glen Allen, VA. At the end of my prayers before going on, I invoked St. Michael the Archangel. "Pray for us."
11. Is there a question I haven't asked that you wish I would have? Here's the opportunity for you to let me know :)
Is this work a full time ministry or do you work another job? This ministry is the livelihood of my family. Our ministry depends on the generosity of the folks that invite us, CD, DVD and tee shirt sales, as well donations. We are simply a grass roots ministry that works internationally as people invite us. My music is published by Oregon Catholic Press and spiritandsong.com. Our website is www.jessemanibusan.com
Thanks for your prayers, everybody!
Let me know what you guys thought of this interview. Were there questions you would have asked that I didn't? What would YOU like to know about Jesse? Have you had Jesse come to your church? What did you think of the experience? What are some of your best memories about Jesse and his ministry?