Ten FAQ’s about “The Trouble with TQ”

Q: How long did it take you to make this film?

A: TQ and I first discussed doing a film about him in the fall of 2005.  From 2005 until 2008, TQ sent me reams of historical documents while I completed the pre-production phase of the film.  I started principal photography in October of 2008 and interviewed TQ, former parishioners, Bishop Sullivan and Michael Morwood.  I finished shooting in late 2011 and from May 2012 until September of 2013 edited the footage through the various cuts. 

Q: Was TQ really a priest?

A: Yes, Rev Thomas J. Quinlan was a fully ordained Roman Catholic priest who attended not one, but two seminaries.  He was ordained on 1 May 1959 in Richmond, Virginia.

Q:  Why was he so against the Virgin Mary?

A: I don’t think TQ was against the Virgin Mary, per se, because he understood the Jungian role of Mary as the anima to Jesus’ animus, but since we knew so little about Mary, not much of what drives current veneration of her is supported by the bible.  My favorite TQ quote on Mary is that if we treated Mary with veneration commensurate with the information available to us in the bible, she would be, “…some old Jewish lady, sitting on a bench in heaven, eating a sandwich.”

Q:  With all the letters of complaint about TQ, how was he able to continue for as long as he did?

A:  The Diocese of Richmond originally encompassed most of Virginia.  After the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II), conservative clerics in Northern Virginia lobbied for their own diocese.  When Rome split the diocese in 1974, Bishop Walter Sullivan, a mentor to TQ, brought TQ from the new diocese of Arlington to the re-shaped Diocese of Richmond.  Bishop Sullivan kept TQ under his wing until his retirement until his retirement in 2005.  Bishop Sullivan’s replacement, Bishop Di Lorenzo, was less tolerant of TQ’s unorthodox style and forced him to retire.

Q:  Did TQ really snatch rosaries out of the hands of parishioners?

A:  TQ’s objection to the rosary was the lack of biblical foundation for the rosary.  In the film, he describes it as a “phony prayer, stolen from Islam.” For the record, he never snatched the rosary from anyone. To quote TQ, he told them, "Put those trinkets away, we're having worship."

Q: What is the Principle of Adaptation?

A:  The Principle of Adaptation comes out of the Second Vatican Council where the Pope urged that cultural considerations could enhance the liturgy.  In other words, connecting the Gospel to the culture of the congregation or issues of the day (or both) would make the liturgy more meaningful to the congregation.

Q:  What was it like interviewing former parishioners for the film?

A:  What struck me about every interview was how people had his or her own take on TQ and his effect on their lives.   While each person’s story was different, they all expressed TQ’s tenure at their parishes as a paradigm shift that changed their vision of what Christians should be doing in the world.  Besides a wealth of infamous “TQ stories,” each interviewee expressed TQ’s deep love of Christ and commitment to following His example.

Q:  Are TQ’s ashes really in a “Chock Full O’Nuts” coffee can?

A:  Yes, TQ was very explicit in insisted he be cremated and the ashes placed in a “Chock Full O’Nuts” can.  The can currently resides in niche 3 of the columbarium at St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Poquoson, Virginia.

Q: When was TQ born?

A: 23 April 1929

Q: When did TQ die?

A:  24 April 2012