Detroit Stories Episode 54: 'God Writes Straight With Crooked Lines' (PODCAST)

Former oil rigger, seminarian, country music DJ, and teacher Bill Richart spent a lifetime chasing his vocation — and finally caught it

(0:02) The narrator introduces Bill Richart, a local Catholic musician, lay evangelist and charismatic prayer leader. Bill talks about how he discovered his vocation — and the long, winding road he took to get there.

(2:33) Bill describes growing up in a Catholic household and wrestling with thoughts of the priesthood, like his own father did. Instead, he went to college, but a recession forced him to seek work in alternative ways. So he moved to Oklahoma and found work as an oil rigger, country music DJ, and other odd jobs. Bill describes his experience as a Catholic in the Deep South.

(6:24) Bill moves back to Michigan and enrolls in the music teaching program at Michigan State University. His faith grew tepid in college, until he was introduced to a charismatic prayer group that changed his life.

(8:59) After graduation, Bill grew restless as he lost touch with the vibrant Catholic community he discovered and entered the world of underemployment. He describes a spiritual journey of trying to reconnect with God’s calling.

(10:15) After spending an evening in prayer at a local Catholic church, Bill happened upon a Wednesday night charismatic prayer group. He was soon invited to join them in playing music — one of his lifelong passions — and quickly found a knack. Soon, word of his talent spread, and he found himself playing gigs all over the country.

(13:47) Bill discerns the priesthood for the second time in his life. He joins the Marists in Massachusetts, but his brother’s cancer prognosis puts his plans on the back burner once again.

(15:33) After his brother’s death, Bill describes his desire to resume his discernment. He asks God for a sign to return to the seminary — and receives one, although not the sign he was expecting.

(17:58) Bill resumes his life as a lay missionary, and devotes himself to the full-time apostolate. He hits the road, traveling to 30 states and nine countries, and eventually meets his wife, Anne Marie. The pair marries in 2003, and welcomes their first child. Four years later, their daughter, Faith, is born.

(20:10) Major health complications for Faith force Bill off the road again. Determined to care for his family, Bill settles down and gets a job in a parish — not the life he expected, but a virtuous vocation that allows him to provide health care for his daughter and stability for his family.

(22:10) Seven years later, Bill is diagnosed with throat cancer. He describes the devastation of finding out, but his determination to trust God’s plan no matter what. He receives a reassuring sign during a radiation appointment.

(25:16) After beating cancer, Bill faces his toughest moment yet: the death of his daughter, Faith. Bill describes the heart-wrenching loss of “my little girl,” and the difficulty of finding the strength to keep praising God regardless.

(27:30) After a life of ups and downs, Bill describes the one certainty in his life: God’s providence. Bill talks about discovering his vocation through an unwavering commitment to prayer, hopeful that whatever challenge might come next, the Lord has a plan.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Michael Stechschulte; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

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