Reader's Retrospective: Michael Leach

This article appears in the Reader's Retrospective feature series. View the full series.

Editor's note: Introducing NCRonline's blog series "Reader's Retrospective": A special project that commemorates NCR's 50th anniversary by telling the stories of readers who have been faithfully subscribing to the National Catholic Reporter since its beginning. ​Read about the project's origins here.​​​

Barred from watching television, listening to the radio, or reading newspapers, St. Mary of the Lake seminarian Michael Leach kept up with goings-on beyond Mundelein, Ill., through the few Catholic magazines allowed: America, Commonweal and The Critic. "When NCR appeared, I jumped at the chance," he said. "It was alive. Always has been."

Leach's early life was shaped by the community of St. Andrew Parish near in his home and the unconditional love of his "Grandma Lou." A child of divorce, Leach would spend his first years as a newly ordained priest working at Maryville Academy, a home for dependent children. Then, in 1968 at a bar in Greenwich Village, N.Y., he fell in love with Vickie.

After leaving the priesthood in order to marry, Leach entered "the vineyard of religious publishing," where he has "been able to explore interesting ideas about life with creative people."

Describing NCR as a companion on the way (he writes and edits its Soul Seeing column), Leach has also befriended and sometimes partnered with other writers and editors on its pages. Editor-at-large of Orbis Books after serving as publisher from 1997-2008, Leach has edited more than 2,000 books. He has also authored his own books, such as Why Stay Catholic?, I Like Being Catholic, The People's Catechism and I Like Being Married.

We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.

Leach is now semiretired in order to care for Vickie, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's in 2004, though he remains keenly attuned to future projects. Currently planning a book series -- with Franciscan Sr. Ilia Delio as general editor -- titled Catholicity in an Evolving Universe, Leach spends much of his time alongside his wife's temporary hospital bed in the family room of their Greenwich, Conn., home. He "lives on her clock, the present moment, the only time you can be grateful and happy."

He acknowledges that loss and pain (their shared memories, her broken hip) have a place in his life, too. "But I'm lucky," he is quick to point out, with conviction. "We've had a good life. Still are. God helps us see the good that nothing can erase."

This story appeared in the March 13-26, 2015 print issue under the headline: NCR a reader's retrospective: Michael Leach .

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg

Show comments

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.