Woodbury dad of 9 leads SPO, makes movies in free time – TheCatholicSpirit.com – The Catholic Spirit

Fischer, 45, a member of St. Ambrose Catholic Community in Woodbury, is president of St. Paul’s Outreach, a Catholic organization based in Mendota Heights that supports college students. He also works as a film producer. His feature film “Sight” stars Greg Kinnear and will be released Memorial Day weekend.
Q) What drew you to the priesthood?
A) Father John Ubel, in his first year of priesthood, gave me a confession at CYC (Catholic Youth Camp). I was in sixth grade. I thought: “Wow! This is how confession could be.” It changed my life.
The reason I wanted to be a priest was because I saw the best of men in the priesthood not the best men, but the best of what a man can be.
I didn’t grow up with that in my household. I was raised by a single mother, and we were transient. To have (the late) Father Jeff Huard take me under (his) wing at seminary and (the late) Father Bill Baer and then (the late) Father Paul Sirba and Father Don DeGrood, who both became bishops these men invested in relationship with me as a young man. There’s such a lack of true fatherhood in today’s culture, and when you don’t have that, you find yourself lacking a certain identity and blessing in life. I was able to get that blessing and so much confidence and identity from those holy priests.
Q) And they counseled you when you began to question your call to the priesthood. 
A) They always guided me back to relationship with the Father. They didn’t say: “Trust your gut.” They said: “Trust your prayer. Lean into prayer.” I didn’t date Laura ’til almost a year and a half after leaving seminary. Jeff Cavins was looking to hire a female producer to help him launch Relevant Radio, and I suggested Laura. He still takes credit for setting us up.
Q) You and Laura have done so much for this archdiocese. You run St. Paul’s Outreach. You founded a men’s ministry at St. Ambrose called Impact 133 that involves more than 200 men. Laura hosts a group of St. Ambrose moms through a program called Walking with Purpose. How do you do it all while raising nine kids?
A) We just love people, and we love hospitality and we love to teach. If you love to golf, you’re going to find the time. If you love to watch shows on Netflix, you’ll find the time to binge watch your Netflix show. Once I put the kids to bed, I would edit videos for Impact. We released one a day for 100 days during COVID. It just has grown.
Impact has been a rally cry for men to understand: There are brothers around you in this parish who may look like they have everything together, but they don’t. I’m chief among you. And that’s OK, because there was a man who went to the cross for you, and we can rally around him, and he will take us along. We’ve taken all these books and then created our own talks around them. I’ve seen men come alive to the fact that they don’t have to have it all together. I want to be a resource to let people know you can do this at your parish. Take the talks that we’ve done!
Q) Meanwhile, every other Friday morning Laura hosts these moms and their young kids.
A) On Thursday nights when it’s time to get ready for Walking with Purpose, we all pitch in. We do it as a family. The basement gets picked up, all the things are put in their right spot and set up for the kids who will be coming over. Laura has little vases that she puts flowers in, and she takes out candles, and she always has tea and coffee and nice napkins. The women bring the food. It has become this beautiful expression of sisterhood, of family, of parish.
You have to lead with beauty before you can get to the good and the true. We take that very seriously, so we put a lot of effort into making sure that that first step is an easier step for someone to make. This is important to us, so that the front end of evangelization is intentional.
Q) Was it daunting to be the first president of St. Paul’s Outreach after the founder, Gordy DeMarais?
A) Yeah. I stepped into big shoes. Gordy is a hero of mine in so many ways. He advocated for me to take on the presidency, which emboldened me to take on and do my best at it, with Jesus as my lead. I believe SPO is poised to really let the country know who we are and what our brand is. I think SPO has remained the best kept secret for many, many years, and that’s heavily because we have been so deep in the paint, on accompanying college students all over the country that we haven’t spent time building up our marketing and communications department. I think there are unique opportunities for us to be a gift to the Church in an apostolic era and not a Christendom era anymore.
There are opportunities to reach out and build the new evangelization, to borrow from my hero JPII The Great to not re-evangelize but to reach out and just evangelize a whole new generation that has grown up without JPII, completely in digital and virtual relationships. I pray for every young man and woman to have a time of being single, of no dating, and of giving their heart entirely to the Church because I know what will happen: The Church will give your heart back to you in spades. It will just pour out a vocation that is so awesome.
Q) In your free time, you make movies. How does a regular guy go about making that happen?
A) It certainly is an industry that has a lot of mystery around it. But it’s like building a house, and along the way, you hire these great professionals who are teaching you. I’ve always had that desire for the creative. I love to write. As a child, I was a professional actor at the Guthrie. And I realized I could lean into those creative instincts while learning from the experts.
Q) You must be excited for people to see “Sight.” You brokered the deal with Angel Studios, the studio behind “The Chosen” and “Cabrini.”  
A) It’s been incredible! To date, more than 50,000 people have screened the film. When I see an audience member tear up or feel inspired to do something more in their life, I am deeply moved. There’s been a beautiful outpouring across the country for this movie.
This will be the fifth feature film released by Angel. I was at a conference in Orlando for an award we were getting, the ICVM Crown Awards, when I ran across Neal Harmon, the CEO of Angel Studios. He’s coming down the escalator as I’m walking up the escalator. I knew his face, and I said, “Neal Harmon.”
Q) What do you know for sure?
A) I know for sure that I am loved. I know for sure that everything good in my life is a blessing from the Lord. I bring my five loaves and two fish, and it’s the Lord who has multiplied them.


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