Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Journey Home?

J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R.*

OK after watching another inspiring
couple of converts to the faith,
on EWTN's Journey Home Program
I must ask myself:
What is keeping you from publicly
witnessing your walk of faith?
A condensed form of the reversion story follows:

I was born on March 8, 1959 into a Sicilian-American family in northern New Jersey. I have five siblings, three older sisters, one older brother and one younger sister. My grandparents emigrated from Sicily to Ellis Island and settled in the New York/New Jersey metro area (1905-1912). I attended Dominican run St. Aloysius School and later James Caldwell H.S.  In 1977 I received a Congressional Appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. I was a backup placekicker for Army and I served as Company F-1 Honor Committee rep my junior and senior years. I graduated with a BS Degree (Civil Engineering) as a member of the Class of 1981. Our class motto: Strength as One, 81.

I served my country as an Infantry officer in the U.S. Army, eleven years active, and nine in the Individual Ready Reserve.  I developed computer graphic skills while in the Army and I used them in a civilian career at Photocraft, a communications arts company in Gaithersburg, MD.   

The year 1997 was a turning point. In obedience to what I now know was small still voice of the Holy Spirit, I was compelled to go to the place “where I was most spiritual.” The panhandle of Florida was my destination for it was a memory from Ranger School (fifteen years prior) that attracted me to a holy spot on the beach of Santa Rosa Island and the town of Ft. Walton Beach. What followed were four months of soul searching and an intense spiritual tug of war. 

I had a deeply moving experience with a fisherman at Topsail State Park on Easter morning, April 12, 1998.  Four days later (with I-10 beckoning me to go to Arizona and call this all a huge mistake) I received another message: “go to Mirimar Beach and look for a house.” It was there that I encountered Deacon Joe Hromadka walking his dog.  We talked for maybe 10 minutes and then I saw it…his silver crucifix. I was immediately reverted back to my faith with the illumination “It’s all true.” and with the guidance, “go to the Ark of the Covenant.”  Thirteen minutes and thirteen miles later I walked through the door to the Ark of the Covenant Formation Center and was greeted by Fr. Mike Jordan. I related to him that I was told to come here. I was home.

I sat down on a wooden chair and the girl at the end of the long table was someone I had never seen before, my soon to be my wife, the former Jennifer Marie Bradley.  The other formandees were Br. Mike Brady, Harvey Langlais and Vince Toomey. At three o’clock while I was staring at a framed image of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, I heard Jenny’s voice, and the words (for the first time) “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” I was receiving this mercy and Divine Mercy Sunday completed the process of my spiritual rebirth. Early on during the six month lay formation I received more spiritual signs (signal graces) that were pointing to the vocation of marriage. On Ascension Thursday I came to an awareness that Jennifer was the one chosen for me by God Himself. Four months later, on November 21, 1998 we entered into the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

I was truly blessed by SOLT's family witness, love of the faith and selfless commitment to serve.  I was privileged to be living in the Ark to receive Fr. Flanagan’s teachings first hand and to receive marriage prep from Tom and Susie George, Fr. Mike and Fr. Flanagan. Over the past fourteen years Jen and I (and our three children John Michael, Joseph and Gianna) have served Our Lady’s Society on both General and Regional Lay Councils. Our works have included lay formation, ecclesial team formation, pro-life activities, communications, and hospitality.

Sincerely yours in Jesus through Mary,
Mike Rizzio

Imitate Mary
Become like Jesus
Live for the Triune God

Seek the Light of Our Lord Jesus Christ
See you on the High Ground!

* - J.M.J. + O.B.T. + M.G.R. stands for:
Jesus, Mary and Joseph;
O Beata Trinitas;
St. Michael, St. Gabriel and St. Raphael


Nori Coleman said...

What a beautiful witness to God's illuminating mercy! My entire family has experienced this type of illumination as well during the end of the 90's! God brought us out of the darkness and spoke to us in many ways!! I am a convert and my mother and I were confirmed on the same day! The National Divine Mercy Shrine is practically in our backyard in Western MA. Stockbridge at Eden Hill. We got to go to many Divine Mercy Sunday Masses there!! I feel like this extraordinary jubilee year of mercy is going to be an illumination on a massive scale for all! may God keep us in his light! Please feel free to email me at

Mike Rizzio said...

Thanks again Nori. I pray all is well with you. What was most interesting for me was that while I was in formation in the Summer of 98, I was called upon to teach an encyclical and the one I received was Dives in Misericordia. I devoured it because it was my walk of faith in a nutshell.


I think I will read this with my family during the rest of Advent.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Your brother in Christ,