Archive for January, 2009

Mary’s Touch – The Radio Show

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

I was asked to be a guest on “Mary’s Touch” a very good radio show featuring the stories of people who were helped in one way or another by The Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary’s Touch is an inspirational 30-minute radio program designed to bring you a greater understanding of Jesus’s Mother, Mary. The program is hosted by Cheri Lomonte and Sally Robb. I really enjoyed speaking with them both as hosts of the show and telling them the story of my re-conversion to the Faith.

Here is my story at least in part. For the show they interviewed me after I told my story. So listen to their show when it comes out to hear more about what happened after I came back to the USA.

The show with me will be airing sometime in the future I don’t know the dates yet. But I encourage you to check out their website. I’m sure they will post it there after it airs.

Click here to hear my Mary’s Touch Story.

My Mary’s Touch Story:

Some of my earliest memories of The Blessed Virgin Mary come from being a cradle Catholic and learning the Hail Mary as a child. I remember thinking that the prayer said she was full of grapes. I guess it made more sense to me as a child. I would not have known what Grace was so I didn’t redily connect that I was not saying the prayer right. I remember being very concerned and attentive as my Grandma Vera showed me and my sister Marie, how to properly hold the rosary and how to make the sign of the cross to start the whole thing off. I was more concerned about how to move the beads through my fingers and keep them folded in a pius manner than I was about what I was praying and who I was asking to intercede for me. Still I think in the Mother’s heart of Mary she probably knew I would grow someday to really embrace my faith through her and that she would lead me to know her Son when I was old enough to understand better who she was.

I knew Mary mostly from pictures and statues which we had in our home and our church. Ofcourse the manger scene was a big even for us every year as we carefully placed all the figures around the Christ Child under the tree. But I really didn’t come to know more about Mary until I was around eight years old. At that time a pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima came to the Ohio State Fair and while I was at the fair with my whole family, for some reason my grandmother singled me out to go see the statue where it was on display.

After we saw the statue of Mary I was impressed that Grandma Vera was so concerned about praying to Mary to help the world. I asked her why she insisted that we needed to pray for the world. I was at the State fair, there was no better place to be as a kid with all the food and rides and sights and sounds I didn’t understand how my grandmother could become so serious just from visiting a statue. Grandma Vera spent the afternoon telling me about Mary’s apparitions in Fatima to the three shepard children and how the world was in a terrible state and why we had to pray as Mary had asked us to so God would not let the whole world go to hell. My grandmother contradicted my eight year old idea that the world was a pretty good place and that people in general were all going to Heaven. Mary was the mother of all of us not just Jesus, and she was very worried about how many people where not following God and were going to Hell. We had to pray the rosary for them because they were falling into Hell like snowflakes.

That night we all went to a restaurant and during dinner I became very ill. It may have been pychosomatic or maybe it was just all that junk food from the fair, but I became very scared, my stomach hurt and I felt like I couldn’t breath. My parents calmed me down and the feeling of fear eventually went away, but I remember it to this day some 40 years later. Of course this is my memory of the event. I’m sure I have probably imbellished it a little but needless to say my grandmother had really gotten to me and left a serious impression about Mary and prayer .

Most of my childhood memories of Mary had faded by the time I was 27 years old. I had drifted from the Catholic Faith in highschool , I never left the Church after Confirmation I just fell away a little and didn’t take it as seriously. I started working a part time job and when it came to missing Mass for work, well that was just expected and par for the course.

Throughout high school I was I was enamored with the idea of being rich and famous as a musician. I had decided early on to be like the Beatles and play music as my ticket to fame. Never being very big for my age I shied away from athletics and I was a bit of a loner. Being alone at that awkward age tended to feed the desire to be an artist as well as the want to be important some day. I saw the athletic guys getting the girls and often felt inferior to them. But I mainly did what everyone else was doing hoping I would fit in and just get by until I could find a way to show the world I was really somebody.

Junior year in highschool I met a great friend named Neal who like me wanted to impress girls by playing guitar. We started playing in our basements and eventually at small parties etc. When we were able to win a spot in our Senior highschool talent show, I finally felt like I belonged.

Through out college Neal and I continued to write songs together build our repatoir and our skills. We met knew three other guys who played music and one day asked them to start a band with us.

I’ll spare you the details of the next few years but the basic story is that we did very well locally and regionally eventually having a success recording and album and winning a statewide contest which helped us land a video on MTV. The success from the video opened many doors for us and by 1988 we were touring an 11 state area of the north central United States of America and well on our way to every thing I had come to believe was important in life. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Life was perfect except that when I was alone I felt terrible and I knew there had to be more to life than what I was experienceing. I went to Church occasionally but often felt guilty because I knew my morals were not squared with the God I had learned about as a child. At one point I had a very bad weekend steeped in the debachery of a want to be rock star. I’ll leave the details out but suffice it to say I was at the moral equivalent of one of those souls falling like snowflakes into Hell that Mary had grieved over at Fatima .

That is when she came back into my life. Loud and clear, intervening as all good mothers will when their children are misbehaving.

I found myself at a Church around 4 in the afternoon on a weekday. I was drawn there out of a sense of emptiness. I went into the day chapel where there was a tabernacle and I sat down and had a talk with God. I arrogantly asked Him to show me that He was still there. I still believed but I couldn’t connect anymore. I liked my sinful life but after the pleasure it brought, I felt empty or guilty and I didn’t want to feel like that if God didn’t care.

Suddenly there were a flock of grandmothers coming into the chapel and basically surrounding me I the pews. I sat there no really knowing what to expect as the daily 4:30 PM Mass began. The readings were all about the prodigal son and how the Father had come to the end of his land every day looking for his wayward son. When the priest gave the homily and invited us all back to union with God I really lost it. I sat in the back pew silently crying like a little boy wanting to be able to come home but still very confused about how.

The Mass ended and as the chapel emptied I walked up and sat next to the tabernacle. I told God that I got it. I understood the message but I was still so arrogant that I asked Him why He didn’t do miracles anymore. I specifically mentioned Fatima and in my worldly mindset I chided God telling Him how it would be better if He would just do something like that again. I said Fatima had happened in 1917 before my grandmother was even born and here it was 1987 with and nothing but radio silence from Heaven for all those years. If God would only allow Mary to appear today we would just video tape the event and play it for the whole world to see. And thus the great conversion would happen and all would be right with the world. Yes I was a real piece of work. Far from the shy kid who wanted to be famous I had become a serious sinner and an arrogant one at that. Before I left, I promised to try to be a better person and to go to confession but I also clearly stated that it was not going to be my fault if I fell back into sin because there was no maintenance of the relationship from His side as far as I could tell.

Now those of you who listen to Mary’s Touch regularly know that when Jesus wants to reach a reprobate like I was, He often sends His Mother , not to scold but to gently break it to us that we are not all that and a bag of chips!

Not twenty-four hours later I was setting up my equipment with my band in a bar when in came two friends who were still in high school. They told me that that day they had been talking in religion class and someone said that The Blessed Virgin Mary had been appearing to some kids in Europe somewhere. The very next day God sent the answer to my arrogance to show me how wrong I was about everything. It hit me like a ton of bricks. No one in the room understood my sudden interest in every detail these two guys gave me. I interrogated them like a dime store detective novel. Where was she appearing in Europe? Yugoslavia somewhere. Who was seeing her? Six or seven children. How often? Daily! How long had this been going on? Since 1981! What where was the Church on this? Why hadn’t I heard about it? Did the Pope know? On and on it went I freaked everyone out because I was so excited about it. The next day I contacted a friend who was a priest and got as much of the details as I could.

Over the next 9 months I prayed the rosary every day. I attended prayer meetings and I went to confession and Mass as much as I could. I heard about Mary’s reported apparitions in Medugorje Yugoslavia and I wanted to go. I fasted on bread and water 3 days a week and I read everything I could about the happenings.
Finally in November of 1988 I was able to go to Medugorje to see for myself. There were all kinds of stories I had heard about rosaries turning gold and miraculous pictures of Mary appearing on film shot at a blank wall. I heard of conversions and healing but the big thing was some people would report seeing the Sun dancing in the sky a direct link in my mind to the miracle at Fatima.

I went to see all this for myself and I will say I was not disappointed. As always we wait for the Church to determine the eventual approval or not of any reported apparition but I want to be clear about Mary’s role in all this.

She came to get me but she never showed up herself, she just called me then stepped aside. As the blessed Mother always does, she led me to her Son Jesus.

I was so hyped up about miracles and golden rosaries that when I got there I found Mary was just the outward attraction. Once she got me there as a pilgrim she gladly stepped aside and reintroduced me to her Son Jesus. Everything in the small town was Christ Centered. There was Mass and reconciliation, there was Eucharistic Adoration, there where praise and worship sessions and there was grace in abundance. I tell people I went hoping my rosary would turn gold and when I got there, my heart turned gold instead.

From that point on I have worked for the Church in some form or another. When I returned to the USA I immediately quit my band even with shows booked for the next 6 months. I went back to college and finished my degree in radio and television communications and I packed up everything I owned into a cheap Chevy citation and moved to Birmingham Alabama to work for a little old Italian nun named Mother Mary Angelica at the Eternal Word Television Network. I worked there for 7 years eventually producing Mother Angelica Live, Life on The Rock, Pillars of Faith and a host of other shows.

Through it all I joined a Medugorje Prayer group and met my beautiful wife Dana. Miracle upon miracle happened and we were eventually married. When I left EWTN in 1997 I came back to Ohio and worked as a Director of Religious Education at my local parish. My family grew too I eventually had 4 daughters, one who is named Regina chaole after Mary the Queen of Heaven. As a DRE and associate Youth Minister, I used the basic format of the Marian Medugorje prayer group I was part of in Birmingham to co-found an international youth ministry called the Dead Theologians Society which eventually reached 148 chapters worldwide while I was the president of the organization. Eventually I got involved in Catholic Radio and started working for St. Gabriel Radio 1580 AM here in Columbus, Ohio on where I now reside with Dana and our 6 children. The last two were boys!

Through it all Mary has remained a huge part of my life. I often feel undeserving of her special attention and as I age I become acutely aware my own sinfulness, but I also know that she is there helping me every day to know Jesus, God the Father, and her spouse the Holy Spirit more and more. She has taken special care of me and often reminds me in not so subtle motherly ways that there is an abundance of Grace in her hands if we just ask for it.

So I encourage all the Mary’s touch listeners to trust that she is listening along with God the Father, for your every need and concern. I’m sure she will be happy to bring any strays listening to my story back into the fold. Because that is her place and her glory as the mother who Christ gave us all from the cross. I assure you that you can trust her to lead you to Jesus her son because she was made full of Grace and she knows how to apply it to all of us her children.