Rich Leonardi "tagged" me. Ok, I'll play.
These are not in order:
1. C.S. Lewis: I began reading C.S. Lewis in my 20s, when I was a fired-up Pentecostal. It was, to quote Hugh Hefner (an unlikely person for me to quote, but fair is fair), like oxygen to a suffocating man. Not only did Lewis help cure me of my anti-Catholicism, and awaken me to the depths of Christianity beyond the power of a conversion experience -- and thus help lead me to the "checkmate" moment that brought me back to Holy Mother Church, but also, he contributed a good deal to my thinking and understanding of the Faith, on which I draw frequently to this day.
2. Pope John Paul: not literally the only pope I'd known, when he died, but pretty close. A constant inspiration to me, before I returned to the Faith, as a Catholic layman, as a seminarian, and as a priest. A mystical encounter with Christ.
3. St. Augustine: when I read The Confessions, I knew a kindred soul.
4. St. Thomas Aquinas: where St. Augustine spoke to my heart, St. Thomas spoke to my mind, and affirmed for me not only the power of Christianity, but to the brilliance of Catholic Christianity.
5. My former boss when I worked for the National Right to Work Committee. My friend to this day -- one I see and talk to too infrequently -- taught me many wise things about many things; I am drawing on that wisdom now as a pastor.
6. An associate with whom I still do political work: one of the most brilliant -- and enjoyable -- people I've ever known.
7. Bill W.: the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. No, I'm not an alcoholic, but alcoholism touched my life through others. Someone observed -- I can't recall who -- that the Twelve Steps are the 20th century's great contribution to spirituality. I believe that.
8. The priest who invited me to consider the priesthood: in addition to helping me come to be a priest, he also helped me on a personal level.
9. William F. Buckley: I started reading National Review in college, and under his -- and President Ronald Reagan's -- influence, I went from being a ho-hum Republican to being a Conservative.
10. St. Martin de Porres: he is my patron saint, and I am convinced his prayers and influence have been great on my life, although I cannot prove it.
Next in line:
my guardian angel
Now, I guess I'm supposed to "tag" someone. OK: how about Fr. Jim Tucker at Dappled Things, and the Darwins at DarwinCatholic. If they don't read this, they're off the hook.