by Fr. Joe Landi, Editor of the San Francisco Charismatics  

About Fr. Landi Out of the World and Into the Kingdom--His journey to priesthood by Rissa Singson.


Dear Diary... It was Memorial Day 1981 when Dan Goodwin made his spectacular climb of the then World's tallest building, the Sears Tower in Chicago.  The Chicago fire department tried to hose him off the building to the horror of the people watching from the street and the vast TV and radio audience that had tuned in on an otherwise slow news day.

FrJoe1.GIF (5563 bytes)
That scene pushed his climb onto the front pages of newspapers all over the world. The press labeled him "Spider Dan." When he started using the term, Marvel Comics, the creators of Spiderman, did not find it amusing to the point of filing suit.

Several weeks later he returned to Chicago as the guest of a local talk show and I went with him to observe. "Why did he do it?" asked the talk show host. "Because it was there," he replied, enjoying his 15 minutes of  fame. We enjoyed lunch at a private club in the Sears Tower and were given a suite and room service at a plush hotel.

To the delight of the neighborhood kids, he began training at my place in rural Marin County, Santa Venetia , with a myopic intensity. Practicing to climb was his total daily routine. Several months later, he returned to Chicago with a camera crew paid for by a Japanese film company watching his every move. He attempted to climb the John Hancock Building--a caper that cost big bucks to stage, was a total flop, and resulted in the bruising of some enormous egos. This time a judge was not amused and told Dan in twenty-five words or less--try that again in Chicago and you'll be climbing around a jail cell. Ah, the folly of youth…

We were big kids on a lark. Too much money and not enough sense are the best terms to describe those times. We even had a local lark when another friend decided to climb the Transamerica Pyramid. That escapade was more fun than folly. The San Francisco Fire Department came to the scene but had the good sense to watch rather than wash. The police department, however, was not amused and hauled Ron off to jail after I was convinced to persuade him to abort his climb after several hours. We were able to spring him shortly because the Transamerica people would not press trespassing charges.

My return after 18 years to Chicago was for the Catholic Press Association Conference. What a difference 18-years can make. I entered the seminary in 1984, was ordained in 1990 and hopefully have not squashed the child within while maturing. The Sears Tower is no longer the World's Tallest Building--it’s now in Kuala Lumpur. But the Sears' black marble sheathed exterior still looms above Chicago. It has two huge white towers at the top, giving it the appearance from a distance of a crouching black rabbit with long white ears. The John Hancock Building, Chicago's second tallest building, also has a black colored exterior. It is located on fashionable Michigan Avenue across the street from the Westin Hotel where the conference was held. The Hancock was the main view from my 19th floor room and brought back a flood of memories.

Chicago is clean, modern and hospitable—and yes, windy. Robert Hoyt, active in the Catholic press for more than 50 years, won the "Frannie" of Catholic Press Association’s St. Francis de Sales Award—named for the patron saint of journalists. Political commentator, Robert Novak, who became a Catholic about a year ago, told us that politicians are baffled by the "Catholic vote" because they don’t understand it’s really two categories of voters—active and inactive.

Msgr. John J. Egan, a longtime activist for community organizing, labor and other social justice interests, told us we have an obligation to focus on the Church‘s "best-kept secret" —the Church‘s social teachings. "It is essential to Catholicism as its teachings on sacraments and Scripture."

The conference also prompted a new look for our newsletter. Because of being in the right place, at the right time, and getting some good information, we have a new slant on how to spread the Good News.

If nothing else over this past 18-years, I have learned to go with God. After making that decision, I seem to be blessed by God all out of proportion to my deserving. But that is the mystery of God's sovereignty. He sees life from a different vantage point and may take us toward a different outcome than we might have planned. I also have learned that tall buildings are replaced by other taller ones. Only God is forever.

Fr. Joe Landi is a Parochial Vicar at St. Cecilia Parish, San Francisco, the Archbishop's Liaison to the Charismatic Renewal, the Editor of the San Francisco Charismatics, and Board Chair of Sierra Point Credit Union, South San Francisco, serving the community, parochial and government schools in San Mateo County, and the Charismatic Renewal. Visit him at the Halo on the Internet,

By clicking on the following blue type, you can contact Fr. Landi by e-mail at, read other articles in the July 1999 issue of The San Francisco Charismatics or return to the Main Menu of this web site.