2023 Summer Messenger When Claudio Pasian, an Argentine, fell in love with the California girl who would become his wife,he wrote an unexpected introduction to his future in-laws, “God put your daughter in my way.” He laughs today about his poor English, explaining...
2023 Summer Messenger
When Claudio Pasian, an Argentine, fell in love with the California girl who would become his wife,he wrote an unexpected introduction to his future in-laws, “God put your daughter in my way.” He laughs today about his poor English, explaining that he wanted to say, “God joined your daughter and me on the road of life.”
In fact, Claudio’s life took more than one unexpected turn. He was educated in Argentina, received a Ph.D.in the U.S., and is now a Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University. He is a die-hard radio fan and stumbled across St. Gabriel Radio back in the day when it was still AM 1580.
ANSWER THIS ONE!
“ I didn’t know how to answer most of the questions, even those not requiring theological knowledge! I gave myself an F!”
“I was fascinated by the call-in shows like Catholic Answers Live (6:00 p.m. weekdays) and usually listened as I was washing the dishes after dinner. One day, I challenged myself to a test: to answer the questions posed by callers before the show host answered them. As an educator, I was accustomed to giving and taking tests. As a lifelong Catholic, I felt confident that I would be on top of the answers. To my surprise and dismay, it became clear that I didn’t know how to answer most of the questions, even those not requiring theological knowledge! I gave myself an F!
“I had prided myself on being strong in the Catholic Faith. My ignorance answering the call-in questions troubled me because I had spent six years studying the Faith in minor seminary in Argentina and should have known some answers!” Claudio explained.
“It was in minor seminary that I realized that God had something other than the priesthood in store for me. I discovered that marriage was in my future, so I began a journey in the secular world. I also discovered that it was not easy for me to find a Catholic girl who actually lived the Faith.”
His pilgrimage led him to accepting a visiting scholarship at San Diego State University; marriage with an American girl who actually practiced the Faith; a Ph.D. from the University of California; and finally, 25 years at The Ohio State University.
A NEW DIMENSION IN FAITH
In Columbus, Claudio’s faith took on a new dimension, especially as he took to heart the early lesson from St. Gabriel Radio call-in shows. “The lesson was that, although I had never missed Sunday Mass in my life, I realized how little I knew about something so important. I knew that I needed to deepen my own faith and my knowledge of the Catholic Faith.”
Fascinated by the idea of Catholic radio, he wanted to find out more about St. Gabriel Radio, by this time designated AM 820. He learned about the Radio’s open-house gatherings and decided to attend. Soon, St. Gabriel Radio became an important part of his life. “St. Gabriel Radio opened my eyes, though late in life, to deepen my understanding of the Catholic Faith. I wanted reason to accompany me in my beliefs because faith and reason go hand in hand. The Radio programs helped me to move the practice of the Catholic Faith from lukewarm Catholic to the center of my life.”
On every car that I have owned, I put an AM 820 bumper magnet. Even on rental cars.”
He decided that he needed to support the Radio and became a Sustaining Member, a commitment that he has continued ever since. “On every car that I have owned, I put an AM 820 bumper magnet. Even on rental cars, I put a magnet on the bumper and leave the radio tuned to St. Gabriel so that those who clean the car have a chance to hear about the Faith.
“Thanks to this awakening, I began spending more time listening to Catholic programs, reading about the Faith, and following Church issues. In my parish, St. John the Baptist in Italian Village, with Bob Contino, Dan Pilliteri, and others, I collaborated in organizing a men’s faith group. For example, one year our faith group took a deep dive into the Book of Revelation and the Fathers of the Church. Who were these Church leaders and what were they saying then and to us today? During the Jubilee Year, we studied the idea of God’s Mercy and how it’s inseparable from God’s Justice. Then, as a group, we went to St. Joseph Cathedral and went through the Door of Mercy together with our wives.”
Mother Angelica is another highlight of Catholic radio. “St. Gabriel Radio organized a pilgrimage by bus to EWTN in Alabama a few years ago and gave each pilgrim a copy of Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles by Raymond Arroyo. On the way down to Alabama, I devoured this engrossing book about an ordinary woman who did extraordinary things through the Holy Spirit. Mother Angelica’s life is amazing, taking into account that she had poor health, only finished secondary school, was an average student at an average school, and her family was full of the same problems that plague many families today.”
IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIP
Claudio continues to relate, “Over the years I have modestly collaborated in events as a St. Gabriel Radio volunteer where needed like the Catholic Men’s Conferences, the 2022 program with Fr. Riccardo, and promoting the Radio in a booth at the St. John the Baptist Italian Festival. Through the St. Gabriel Radio community, I was able to develop relationships with priests and other faithful Catholics in our diocese.”
Many programs continue to draw Claudio in, especially weekday airings like Catholic Answers Live (6:00 p.m.), Fr. Riccardo (weekdays 7:00 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.), Called to Communion (2:00 p.m.), and in general every Q&A program. “The programming is varied and even on those programs that deal with a single theme, say abortion or the Real Presence, the callers’ questions help me see a new angle of understanding regarding what we believe. Catholic radio helps me stay focused.”
A PROMISE OF PEACE
“ Through the St. Gabriel Radio community, I was able to develop relationships with priests and other faithful Catholics in our diocese.”
“It’s easy to get distracted by what I call the Gospel of Nice and the happy faces plastered over advertising. The Apostles Matthew, Mark, and Luke all report that Jesus taught us, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ The programs on St. Gabriel Radio show how joy and sacrifice transcend the popular ideas of happiness. It’s important to me to remember that Jesus doesn’t promise me happiness. He promises me far more — a peace that surpasses understanding even in the face of difficulties — if I cling to Him and strive to enter the narrow gate.”
Claudio is convinced that Catholic radio has a tremendous impact on culture today. He notes, “Twenty-minute Sunday homilies can teach only so much, and priests are stretched to the max managing their parishes. The presence of religious has shrunk in education as well with the decline in vocations. Fortunately, Catholic radio helps cover the resulting gap and even provides priests and catechists with a new tool for reaching souls and pointing the way to what’s really important: eternal salvation.”
“I always thought about the priesthood,” says Fr. Paul Joseph (PJ) Brandimarti. “Like many men who grow up to be priests, one of my favorite childhood pastimes was playing at celebrating Mass!” Today, Fr. Brandimarti carries out his priestly vocation serving at St. Vincent de Paul parish, Mt. Vernon and St. Luke parish, Danville.
The Brandimarti family has given the Church several priestly and religious vocations over the years. So, it was no surprise that this young man would one day be ordained as Fr. Brandimarti.
When he reached Duquesne University in his home state of Pennsylvania, he applied to seminary. He set his sights on being a chaplain in the military until he learned that the assignment might not be in military service because the Bishops and Church place priests where they are most needed.
Discernment takes a U Turn
He started having second thoughts about seminary as he discovered the excitement of career, friends, and privilege. Like many young people raised in faithful families, he drifted away from practicing the Faith in college. “Faithful life started to seem boring in comparison to the lure of the world,” reflects Fr. Brandimarti. So, he decided to explore a career instead of the priesthood.
As a result, the road to ordination took a number of unexpected turns and even some backtracking. Fr. Brandimarti gives credit to St. Gabriel Radio for helping him get back on track regarding his priestly vocation.
“I kept seeing those bumper magnets on cars. The St. Gabriel Radio signal constantly popped up on my car radio!”
Driving became a big part of every workday as he advanced in a career of retail and consumer electronics, first with Sony, then with Motorola. “I was promoted to manager of a territory in Ohio. At least four hours a day were spent in the car driving from Cambridge to Dayton to Chillicothe to Mansfield and all points in between. I tired of listening to music. Flipping through the radio channels, St. Gabriel Radio kept coming up. The programs pulled me in. I began planning my day around programs like Christ Is the Answer with Fr. Riccardo (7 A.M. and 4 P.M. weekdays) and Catholic Answers Live (6 – 8 P.M. weekdays). St. Gabriel Radio became the only channel I listened to!”
As Fr. Brandimarti tells his story, he emphasizes the importance of relationships in discipleship. “Leland
Thorpe, a semi-Buddhist, atheist and long-time friend pulled me back into the Faith. Leland announced to me one day that he was considering Anglicanism. I saw an opportunity to witness to Catholicism at this crossroads. So, I invited Leland to read the Church Fathers.” Leland did. Next, Leland announced, “I HAVE to become Catholic! Will you be my RCIA sponsor (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults)?” Leland Thorpe ended up entering the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and Father Leland Thorpe was ordained in 2022.
“True friendship leads to Christ,”affirms Fr. Brandimarti.
Even in his youthful wrestling with the Faith, the would-be Fr. Brandimarti knew that RCIA sponsorship carried a big responsibility. “I don’t do things halfway, for all my flaws,” he admits. Reflecting on his own, pre-seminary lifestyle, he felt that he needed to make some important changes in order to commit to RCIA sponsorship. He decided that the answer to this invitation was to find his way back to the heart of the Church. Then he realized that he never really knew the Heart of Christ!
“Through this journey as sponsor to my friend in RCIA, I came to know Christ twice.” He explains that the first time, he knew of Christ through the cultural-Catholic training that he received in his childhood. The second time was as a mature person with intimate seeking and the desire of knowing Christ.
“My father is the son of Italian parents and my mother is from a German family. Catholicism plays a big role in both sides of my family.” Fr. Brandimarti says that he knew the culture of the Catholic Church as a youngster and that he was always Catholic, but he admits that he was not always a practicing Catholic.
“ I’m a big Italian, a big Catholic, and like most Italian men, I’m big in my devotion to Our Lady.”
As a youth, I was attached to Catholicism because it was part of my Italian identity, like many Italian-American millennials. I was a good cultural-Italian Catholic. I gave up stuff for Lent. I never ate meat on Friday. Yet, the idea of praying was nonexistent. Going to Mass? Only when parents wanted me to. I questioned whether God was there or really cared about me and my life. Yes, I defended the Church but was living as a practical atheist.”
He realized that the next step in answering Leland’s invitation to RCIA sponsorship was to personally commit, “to surrender to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ.”
On his journey deeper into Catholicism, he discovered many truths. Foremost is the Eucharist: he explains that if the Mass were not truly about the Real Presence, then nothing else would matter.
AM 820: Seminary Companion
He was accepted to seminary in the Diocese of Columbus and completed his academic degree and preparations for the priesthood at the Pontifical College Josephinum. “When I got to seminary, I’d already received an excellent foundation in the Church’s teaching through the programs that I’d listened to on St. Gabriel Radio,” he says.
St. Gabriel Radio programs helped him in many ways. Early on in the seminary, he was unsure about just how a priest lives in the world. “Are the kinds of things that I like to do acceptable in a priest’s life?” Sports? Friendships? Music? “On St. Gabriel Radio I heard priests talking who were real people, who talked like me, who did the things that I do.”
Today Fr. Brandimarti firmly believes – through first-hand experience – that St. Gabriel Radio is truly a tool for conversion, whether the first conversion or continual conversion. “We’re blessed with AM 820. The locally produced shows put out a message for those who are discovering the Faith, confirming the Faith, and deepening the Faith.
“On St. Gabriel I heard priests talking who were real people, who talked like me, who did the things that I do.”
“The life of a priest is intense, so it’s not often that I can listen to the radio. When I can, nothing beats listening to Catholic Answers. Through programs like this, I hear what people’s questions are and also the way other faithful, learned minds answer those questions. On a daily basis in my parish, I encounter people with deep questions; Who am I? Where am I going? How do I deal with a particularly difficult problem? Each person I meet is unique, each life is different.
“Hearing a variety of callers on Catholic radio helps me relate to the variety of people in my parish. The topics help me stay up to date professionally and spiritually. The programs allow me to be immersed in the wider life of the Church.”
Fr. Brandimarti reflects that being a priest is much more than exercising a profession or advancing a career. He says that as an example, while the physician’s skill addresses the body, the priest addresses the whole being and more. “The role of the priest integrates the spiritual and physical, the emotional and intellectual. The relationships with people and with the Church in all their aspects are intimate relationships that go to the core of being. Often for my parishioners, I am the bearer of life-changing news – good and bad.”
Invite a friend
“The spiritual dimension of priestly life is awesome! It’s the awe-inspiring reality of representing Christ Himself. Ordination has given me the grace of being united to The High Priest. By virtue of this gift, I can turn bread into God!” marvels Fr. Brandimarti.
Fr. Brandimarti reflects on discipleship in our Faith walk. “The most valuable thing we can do is invite those we encounter.” We can invite the people in our life to take a peek at the Catholic Faith, or a second look, or even a deep dive. He continues, “For parents of children, we must teach them. The volleyball game should not be more important than Mass. Invitation is what matters. Invite a young person or a friend to Mass. Then let the people we invite make their own decisions about whether or not to accept.
“The beauty of St. Gabriel Radio is that it doesn’t impose. It proposes an invitation.
“I see tons of spiritual fruit coming from St. Gabriel Radio among so many people. It’s edifying to run into people, sometimes the least expected, who comment on something they experienced through St. Gabriel Radio. Sometimes, the result becomes apparent only after years.”