I was also very glad to discover that he was a Catholic. And unlike many Catholics in the public sphere he lived his faith. He was proud of his Irish Catholic roots and his Catholic education. It's refreshing to see public figures who live by their Catholic faith.
He said that his father, a sanitation worker who never finished high school, "worked two jobs all his life so his four kids could go to Catholic school, and those schools changed my life." He also spoke warmly of Catholic nuns who taught him. "Sister Mary Lucille founded a school newspaper and appointed me editor and changed my life," he said. Teachers in Catholic schools "taught me to read and write, but also how to tell right from wrong."
He arranged Pope John Paul II's first interview on American TV.
And when Pope Benedict visited the US, he and another senior newsman, Wolf Blitzer (from CNN) got to have an audience with the Holy Father:
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, also from Buffalo, told the Tribune that as they waited for the Holy Father to arrive, “Russert was excitedly clutching his rosary and beaming.”
“This wasn't Tim Russert, the powerful anchor and moderator of 'Meet the Press,' it was just little Timmy from Buffalo.” Blitzer continued, “He looked at me before the pope came in and said, 'Can you believe it, two kids from Buffalo are about to meet the pope?'”
Politico.com also reported that during a graduation address Russert gave last year to students at Washington University in St. Louis, he described meeting John Paul II. “As the Pope approached me, you heard this tough, no-nonsense, hard-hitting moderator of ‘Meet the Press’ begin our conversation by saying, ‘Bless me, Father.’ And he took my arm and said, ‘You are the man called Timothy from NBC.’ I said: ‘I am YOUR GUY. Don’t forget this face.’
Here's a very inspiring clip.
The gentleman being interviewed says that though he's a Jew, if he ever considers becoming Catholic, Tim Russert would have been the best advertisement for his Catholic faith, a great fisherman for the faith.
And he did this just by living his faith in his every day life.
I was telling Paul yesterday that it would the greatest honour if, when we die, non-Catholics could say about us, that we lived our Catholic Faith in such a way that those around us were inspired to take a second look the Faith and judge it well based on our actions.
So let's pray that we can be good ambassadors of our faith.