Rulli brings faith, fun together for radio show

By Enedelia J. Obregón

Senior Correspondent

Long before there was "The Catholic Guy Show" on satellite radio, Lino Rulli was a Catholic guy who liked to have fun while taking his faith seriously. He’s still doing both on SiriusXM 129. He takes his listeners along to the Vatican, a hot tub or even a pub crawl, as he did recently in Austin.

Having fun does not make one less pious or less Catholic, said Rulli, 41, who began his work in Minnesota in television. Along the way he won several Emmy Awards, one for a World War II documentary, "The Last Flagraiser," and two for hosting and producing "Generation Cross."

In December 2006 he started his satellite radio program after being recruited by the company which was starting The Catholic Channel. He quickly moved to New York City, where he now co-hosts the show with Father Rob Keighron from the Brooklyn Diocese.

One of his local fans who attended the pub crawl is Jason Elizondo, 37, a parishioner at St. Thomas More Parish in Austin.

He likes the show "because it’s not your typical Catholic radio show."

"It’s entertaining," Elizondo said. "The typical Catholic radio show focuses on an older demographic while Lino gears his show to younger Catholics."

The show’s co-hosts "do a great job of making the faith approachable," he said. "It’s like hanging out with friends for a couple of hours a day."

Rulli, who takes his show on the road around the U.S. and Canada three or four times a year, also broadcasts once a year from Vatican Radio. He goes on the road because "part of the Catholic experience goes beyond the borders of our parish or diocese … we want to bring that experience to the audience," he said.

No matter where he goes, there is one commonality he hears from listeners: Being Catholic is something to be celebrated and one can be "normal" and be Catholic.

"Being Catholic doesn’t mean having this horrible, fake pious, plastic faith," Rulli said. His show doesn’t deal much with doctrine or discipline, but about getting Catholics "excited about being Catholic" as well as being "normal functioning beings in society," going about their daily lives at work, raising families and socializing with friends. He shares many of his experiences with his listeners.

While in Austin, he was in line for confession at St. Mary Cathedral and behind him were two fans. His fans could relate when he later talked about how much more fun it is to leave confession than to go into confession.

"(Fans) encourage me and I encourage them in their faith," he said.

Rulli is willing to share with his fans on topics about dating, to friends, to confession, to getting sleepy during homilies and to his favorite rock band, the Foo Fighters, which makes him relatable.

"I want to be open and honest," he said. "This is not a news show. We’re calling it The Catholic Guy and making it about every day persons being Catholic in the real world."

Rulli looks to the example of Blessed John Paul II.

"With John Paul II we saw for the first time a pope who skied and laughed," he said. "He showed us that going out and having a laugh and being yourself and liking music and putting on Bono sunglasses is not the antithesis of faith. You can have faith and have fun. Our generation is trying to find out how those two worlds mix."

Rulli said that we’ve been raised with a sense that "to be somber is to be more pious and that the truly devout and reverent are the ones who never had a laugh in their lives. I think we’re breaking out of that."

There is more than one way to be a good Catholic, he said.

"It doesn’t mean we’ve renounced our faith just because we’re having fun," he said. "Look at the two recent popes. One suffers to the end the other resigns. Both are teaching us different ways to respond to God’s call."

The Catholic Guy Show can be heard on SiriusXM 129 weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon and from 4 to 6 p.m. For more information, visit www.linorulli.com.

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