‘The Catholic Guy’ takes to the local airwaves

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PROVIDENCE — Christ is found in everyday life, whether you are riding a goat in Ghana or broadcasting from The Seven Deadly Sins Suite in Las Vegas, as far as Lino Rulli, known as “The Catholic Guy,” on Sirius XM satellite radio, is concerned.

So, although he jokingly complained about waking up on the road again in another strange room on a recent frigid winter’s day in Providence, and whimpered about having no Wi-Fi in his bedroom in the free accommodations provided just off the Providence College campus for his visit, Rulli was actually having a blast. The Thursday at the end of January was the last day of his first trip to the state of Rhode Island, and he was longing for his own bed back home in New York City. But that afternoon’s upcoming program from the Slavin Center had him stoked, like every other broadcast has energized him for the past seven years.

“You know you wake up and it’s, ‘Oh, my body is hurting; I don’t know where I am.’” says Rulli, 42, later in the day in a small meeting room in Aquinas Hall where he busily works his thumbs across his iPhone, sips water from a plastic bottle and submits to an interview all at the same time, never missing a word. “You’re thinking, ‘I’ve had enough in Ghana (where he had broadcast a week earlier), in Germany, in Haiti....but ...I’m having fun because, honestly, life is about experiences to me. I love the experience of being around Catholics anywhere in the world.”

Rulli can be heard twice a day, Monday through Friday, on Sirius XM 129 from 5 to 7 p.m. with a replay of the previous day’s program at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Rulli revels in being Catholic and obsessed with other people’s journeys in the faith. He conducts interviews, plays games on air with his guests and, when he has gone to confession, reveals everything he confessed.

“I think I make Catholic cool, relevant and make it mean something to my listeners,” Rulli said.

“It is all those things...and I am showing people this is the church. I get to have all my experiences with my listeners. I had courtside seats at the PC game (the Friars beat Butler). I was there with the fans. It was a blast. We had dinner on Federal Hill at Siena, unbelievable food. Because of my job I get to enjoy things like that with other Catholics. I didn’t know that much about PC, that they were called the Friars. Now some guy listening in Texas hears me talking about the Friars at a Catholic school in Rhode Island called Providence College. Now that may have been the farthest thing from that guy’s mind, but now he knows there is this Catholic college here and see that there are other Catholics around the country. I dig it.”

During one of the broadcasts from the Slavin Center, Rulli and Father James Cuddy, O.P., the school’s chaplain, play a quiz game with students invited to the microphones on a table set up in a corner of a lounge. Rulli asks, “Who is Our Lady?” The student doesn’t have a clue. He gets ribbed, but Rulli gets to tell an audience of listeners on the World Wide Web who Our Lady is, the mother of Jesus, and maybe thousands of other people out there listening have learned about her.

“We’ve had a bunch of students on the show — some who go to Mass, some who don’t go at all and aren’t really interested. I dig it. You talk about it. You laugh about it. Everybody is in a different place, so to have that positive experience of being Catholic leaves the rest up to God.”

Is that part of the New Evangelization? Rulli isn’t sure. He is thinking about the extraordinary synod on the family and evangelization scheduled in October.

“What is that, evangelization? Jesus didn’t hold organizing meetings. None of the saints did a study about what do people want and need. You don’t need branding. You go out and do it.”

Father Cuddy said it was Rulli’s idea to bring the “The Catholic Guy” to campus. He met Rulli in the summer of 2007 when he was a newly ordained priest and assigned to help out on a Dominican order radio program on Sirius. They reconnected a year later when Father Cuddy was back at the Dominican House in Washington, D.C., and Rulli was in town with his show during the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

“He speaks to where so many of our students are in the lives of their faith,” Father Cuddy said, while he helped Rulli set up the equipment for the show, one of several which were broadcast from the PC campus over the course of a week. “I thought it would be good for the students, the school and for him to do his show on campus.”

Father Cuddy is a listener and he values the impact that “The Catholic Guy” show can have.

“For someone in Kansas who is listening to the show this week, it is good for them to know there is a place for them in the church, that they don’t have to have it all figured out.”