"It's an honor to be appointed here by the bishop," he said. "I have a lot to learn about the parish, but it's going really well. The people have welcomed me warmly.
Succeeds Msgr. Klister
Fr. Girotti succeeds Msgr. Roy Klister, who served as rector and pastor at the Cathedral for more than 10 years.
"Msgr. Klister was very good to me," said Fr. Girotti. "He was very supportive and gave me a very strong affirmation to the people. I'm thankful for all he did for the transition."
Fr. Girotti was born and raised in Milwaukee. He studied at Lawrence University in Appleton, so he is no stranger to city life, but admits there is an adjustment coming from his previous position.
"My first appointment after I was ordained in 2002 was at Nativity (Ashwaubenon), so I know Green Bay," he said. "There is obviously an adjustment going from four parishes to one, but the biggest difference has been the pace. The pace is much quicker here, but I'm catching up."
Leaving the people he served in the four parishes was difficult for Fr. Girotti. He said that he will always have a great affection for the faith communities.
Misconceptions about the Catholic Church
Fr. John Girotti will present "Know Your Faith" at 6:30 p.m.Feb. 25 at Holy Family Parish, Marinette. He offered fivemisconceptions that he finds that people have about the Catholic Church.
• The Catholic Church is a rules-based faith.
• The church is old fashioned, filled with old people and backwards in its teachings.
• Catholic priests are unhappy. "Priests love what they do," he said.
• Catholics don't know Jesus Christ nor have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
• Catholics do not like the Bible and are not interested in the word of God.
"They really taught me how to be a priest," he said. "I loved the people. About 350 came to the going away party on New Year's Eve, which is quite something for a rural parish."
Fr. Girotti said that his first goal at the Cathedral is to get to know the people and how things operate, but he also looks forward to being present to the surrounding neighborhood. He will also continue to speak at other parishes as much as possible. He recently made a presentation at Good Shepherd Parish in Chilton and, on Feb. 25, will speak at Holy Family Parish in Marinette. His talks are a summation from a 15-part series entitled "Know Your Faith," which he developed shortly after he was ordained.
"It started at Nativity with the idea that I had to do a little faith sharing group," explained Fr. Girotti. "I planned for 20 people. This was back in 2002. 'Let's get a little room for 20 people and have some donuts and talk about the faith.' The first night we had 170 people. There were not enough donuts. It grew from there."
Develops 'Know Your Faith'
Fr. Girotti developed the 15-part series, which he presented at Nativity. He repeated it in 2007 at St. Pius X Parish, Appleton. Last year, he made six, one-evening "Know Your Faith" presentations throughout the diocese. In the fall of 2009, he presented the entire series in Tigerton, where it was recorded on DVD for the diocesan education department. The DVD is scheduled to be released with a study guide this summer.
"Preaching and teaching are my favorite things as a priest," said Fr. Girotti. "I see my role as a priest as very much a teacher."
"Know Your Faith" is an apologetics course, which often needs some explaining, said Fr. Girotti.
"There are some folks in the church that think apologetics is apologizing, which is not true," he said. "There are other folks who think that apologetics is beating people over the head with the faith. It is charitably explaining and defending our faith to others."
Fr. Girotti fields numerous questions at speaking engagements, but the most common is a request for advice by grandparents.
"Their grandchildren are not baptized and they are sick about it," he said. "'What can I do to get my grandchildren baptized?' is the number one question. The children are not practicing the faith; hence the grandparents are in agony. I tell them to pray to St. Monica, to be a good example, to nudge, to not give up."
Fr. Girotti plans to write another 15-part series entitled "Live Your Faith," which will address moral issues about faith and culture in the secular world.
People from throughout the diocese may recognize Fr. Girotti from the Bishop's Appeal video. He shares the story of his former religious education leader Sally Korbisch in the video. "It's a bit of irony that I'm no longer there," he said. "Sally is an example of the wonderful people you meet along the way."
Music is a passion
Fr. Girotti first studied music in college. He planned to be a concert cellist.
"Music is still a big part of my life," he said. "How many priests do you know who have a turntable in their office? I love vinyl LP records. It's a big hobby. I still play the cello. Not as much as I should. I hope to play more."
His music background helps him as a priest, he said.
"It's being in public," he said. "I started violin lessons when I was 4. It helps you being in front of people. Music also helps me develop homilies and themes."
Bishop David Ricken will install Fr. Girotti as pastor and rector of the Cathedral on Feb. 28.
"It's a very moving moment in my life," said Fr. Girotti. "I ask the people of the diocese to pray for me. I promised Msgr. Klister that I would take good care of the parish. I promised the bishop that as well. The men who came here before me were outstanding priests, so it's humbling. I will do the best I can with God's help."