Julie, who was looking for Answers, asked, “Why do these Catholics have to tell me about their radio station?” She had seen the St. Gabriel Radio bumper magnets often in traffic. They annoyed her – until she stumbled onto Dr. Ray and Mother Angelica at a time when she desperately needed a lifeline.
WOMEN OF DEEP FAITH
Perhaps Mother Angelica reminded Julie of her grandmother and attending holiday faith ceremonies together. “Mother Angelica is very believable. I love her no-nonsense approach to right living. Like my grandmother, Mother Angelica tells it like it is. And, like Mother Angelica, my grandmother was a woman of deep faith. My grandmother played such an important role in my life,” Julie reflects as she talks about her fatherless home and alcoholic mother.
“I grew up in Akron. At one point, I attended Mass with a childhood friend. The Mass with the kneeling, communion, and ceremony struck me as foreign, esoteric. Later, as a teenager, I discarded what I had learned about faith from my grandmother and decided that I was agnostic. I couldn’t reconcile an all-powerful, benevolent God with my own family experience and the chaos I read about in the news. I wasn’t yet willing to make the effort to seek Truth.”
“ Like Mother Angelica, my grandmother was a woman of deep faith.”
“I SWORE I NEVER WOULD . . . ”
Julie headed to Columbus and The Ohio State University for college. “I had sworn that I would never fall into the grips of alcoholism, yet I fit right into the college party and drinking scene. Now I see that the college experience was a failed attempt to escape from my family.”
Julie set out on a road that repeated her own childhood experiences: a broken love relationship, broken home, inability to parent her own daughter, and difficulties staying employed.
In her deep suffering, Julie’s heart told her that there is Truth somewhere. A deciding moment came about when a serious accident landed her grandmother in the hospital and Julie witnessed a 180-degree change in her grandfather. Julie took her two year-old daughter with her to visit her grandmother in the hospital. “To our surprise, my grandfather, who had always treated grandmother poorly, was at his wife’s bedside with devotion, and a notebook to follow her treatment by the medical staff. He lavished such kindness, such caring on my grandmother! I knew that only God’s hand could accomplish such a profound transformation! At this turning point, I realized that agnosticism was not for me.”
Julie set out on a road that repeated her own childhood experiences.
Julie was deeply shaken by her grandmother’s trauma. “But even this experience with my grandparents didn’t change my dependence on alcohol or the way I was living,” Julie admits.
Then, in 2009, Julie found AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). “At first I wanted to believe that the AA 12-step program was the definitive solution. In reality, AA gave me so much more than a self-help technique. It turned out to connect me to the powerful hand of a loving God! AA brought me face to face with God, into a relationship with Him. Now I had to start talking with God, confessing my faults, taking a moral inventory, and opening myself to receiving God’s graces. I stayed in AA for a year and stayed sober for all that time. Then I believed that I was done! So I left AA and held on to sobriety by my fingernails for another five months.
“In the fall of 2011, I fell again. It was the perfect storm: legal, financial, social, and emotional problems brought me to my knees. I was facing eviction. I began praying, meditating, examining my conscience (through moral inventory), and trying to make amends. I really began working the AA program. But I was still in the ‘waiting room of Christianity’ as C. S. Lewis would say. I had never gone to church during the past years and I recognized that I needed a concrete belief – that I needed to discover and enter a specific church, not just any church. I needed to enter The True Church.”
ST. GABRIEL RADIO LIFELINE
This is when Julie discovered St. Gabriel Radio and St. Vincent de Paul. “I am so grateful for the help of St. Vincent de Paul. Tom and Maureen at St. Vincent de Paul helped keep me in my home and pay the rent at that turning point in 2011.
“Around the same time in 2011, I began hearing about how to live life from a Catholic position on St. Gabriel Radio. The apologetics programs explain the why of the Faith to the non-Catholic callers. In all the time of listening, I could never reach the conclusion, ‘That’s NOT the Truth!’”
Julie continues, “Each person acquires information in different ways, and the variety of St. Gabriel Radio programs can appeal to many ways of learning. I like the station’s wide variety of programming because I have a short attention span! Whatever is going on in my life, God uses St. Gabriel Radio to hit me with the right words at the right time. I like the constant exposure of people and ideas behind the Faith.”
“ God uses St. Gabriel Radio to hit me with the right words at the right time.”
Almost a decade later, in 2020, the seeds planted through AA, St. Gabriel Radio, and St. Vincent de Paul flowered. During the long, world-wide shutdown, Julie searched the internet to find out how to join the Catholic Church. She was looking for a parish that offered the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) in person at a time when many parishes offered online video conferencing only.
Julie needed the presence of people on her journey. “Determined to continue my goal of entering the Catholic Church, I discovered that St. Mary’s parish in Delaware offered RCIA in person.” Julie entered the Church at Easter 2021 at St. Mary’s, now Julie’s home parish.
Julie has taken immense comfort in learning the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet devotions through St. Gabriel Radio. The constancy and repetition of the prayers inspire her. “I usually listen to St. Gabriel Radio when I’m driving. Catholic radio changed the atmosphere in the car and kept calling me back! The spiritual messages seemed to come through without my being consciously aware so I have absorbed Catholicism at a deep level, by osmosis. The familiarity of certain hosts’ voices seemed to guide me to an understanding infused beyond human reason.” Julie refers to Teresa Tomeo (Catholic Connection, 9 A. M. weekdays) and Dr. David Anders (Called to Communion, 2 P. M. weekdays).
IT IS THE BODY OF CHRIST
“In my two years of Catholic journeying, the most compelling reality that I have discovered is the Body of Christ in the Host. In Holy Communion, He gives me the means to grow in His likeness. I’m especially grateful for the practice of examination of conscience and the Sacrament of Confession.”
Julie is also grateful that the Good Lord has spared her own daughter from the physical and spiritual scourge that Julie underwent. “It is by God’s grace that my daughter escaped my negligence and could rely on the love and care of her devoted father. Yes, God is still working miracles. My daughter graduated from high school and went on to receive a bachelors degree with honors from Otterbein University. God’s gracious love is demonstrated in my daughter.
“ The most compelling reality that I have discovered is the Body of Christ in the Host.”
“I feel like the miner whose pick axe hits gold, then learns that he has just struck a mother lode that is infinite and will pay dividends for the rest of his life – but only if he insists on giving it away,” concludes Julie. The mother lode of gold that Julie has struck are the Spiritual Treasures of the Catholic Church.
THE BOOK, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, known as the “Big Book,” defines alcoholism as “an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.”
There are three principal points of contact between AA and Catholic doctrine: (1) the analogy between AA’s understanding of alcoholism and the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin; (2) the emphasis in both AA and Catholicism on understanding man as a unity of body, mind, and soul; (3) the consequent need for a redemption or remedy embracing both body and soul and effected by God Himself since only He can do it.