Liam Callanan: Listening and Welcoming

Episode 57 of Messy Jesus Business podcast, with Sister Julia Walsh.

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“Readers complete a text. And so storytelling is a collaborative activity.” – Liam Callanan


“The act of listening is a very powerful one,” begins Liam Callanan in conversation with Sister Julia Walsh as her guest in Episode 57 of the Messy Jesus Business Podcast. Liam is an author, journalist and teacher who declares passion for writing, collaborating, Rome “and … the mess!”  

Their conversation encompasses the community and connections that can come to fruition in the collaboration of listening, something he experiences in the celebration of mass in the Catholic Church. “… you’re seeing other people lift up their voices and their hearts to God, and that’s a powerful expression in community. It’s all about sitting in the pew and turning to the person next to you and saying ‘welcome’ … a very powerful, active witness for me.”

Liam also shares his perception from the contextual container people put him in as a Catholic writer, an identity through which he finds opportunity for welcoming and mutual listening. “There’s no box that doesn’t have an opening. You just have to unseal it,” says Callanan.


Liam Callanan is a novelist, journalist and teacher. He is the author of The Cloud Atlas, and his nationally best-selling novel, Paris by the Book, was translated into multiple languages and won the Wisconsin Council of Writers 2019 Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award. He is also the 2017 winner of the George W. Hunt, SJ, Prize, awarded by America Magazine and the St. Thomas More Chapel and Center at Yale University. Liam’s work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Slate, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, and he’s recorded numerous essays for public radio. He has taught for the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and currently is a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Liam lives in Milwaukee with his wife and daughters.

His most recent novel, When In Rome, will be published by Penguin Random House in March 2023.

Check out Liam’s website here: https://www.liamcallanan.com

Liam’s essays in America Magazine: https://www.americamagazine.org/voices/liam-callanan

MESSY JESUS BUSINESS is hosted by Sister Julia Walsh. 

Produced and edited by Colin Wambsgans.

Email us at messyjesusbusiness@gmail.com



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