Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Patti Maguire Armstrong

8/25/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Al Kresta, Catholic Radio Legend, Overcomes Death to Serve the Lord and His Church

Kresta said he did not feel sad. "The message came through clearly. "At that moment, I did not grieve for my lost leg, because in comparison to my life, it was not so important."
He determined that he would use his time of suffering. "I did not want to forget why I was there. I wanted my personal life in order, to become more like Christ and receive sanctity, and in that way the work, the ministry would flow from that." Kresta attributes all the prayers and support with lifting him up.  "Those prayers gave me more courage to trust that God was really at work. For months afterwards, I still had the feeling of unity, being a part of the mystical body of Christ."

Patty McGuire Armstrong

Patty McGuire Armstrong

Highlights

By Patti Maguire Armstrong

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/25/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: Patti Maguire Armstrong, Al Kresta, Catholic Radio, Ave Maria, flesh eating disease, suffering, redemptive suffering, lay faithful


BISMARCK, ND (Catholic Online) -  Today, Catholic radio operates in over 200 markets in the U.S. in addition to the Internet and Sirius Radio.  But fifteen years ago, the Catholic airwaves were much quieter until a revolution of sorts began in Ann Arbor, MI. It is the home to the University of Michigan, a city identified as a seedbed of learning.

When the signal was turned on for Ave Maria Radio at 1290 AM, WDEO ("DEO" is Latin for God) a new kind of learning began-the Catholic faith on the airwaves.  There had been glimpses of Catholic radio through a music station and rented "Catholic Hours" on secular and Christian stations, but this was to be a fully-programmed Catholic station.

In 1996, Mother Angelica, foundress of EWTN Global Network, the world's largest religious broadcasting enterprise, offered free programing to any Catholic radio station. It was a mission appeal, for radio was either secular or Protestant Christian then.  Tom Monaghan, Domino's Pizza founder and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, accepted the offer. He leased 1290 AM in Ann Arbor and hired Al Kresta, a former pastor and recent convert to the faith to run the station and the first Catholic radio ministry in the U.S. was born.

"My wife Sally and I had been praying for direction for two years," Kresta explained. "We were living in Detroit when Tom offered me the job to become a media missionary and move to Ann Arbor." The Krestas moved to Detroit with their five children; one more would be born in Ann Arbor.  When he left Detroit in April of 1997, Kresta thought he was moving to a smaller market, never suspecting that one day, Ave Maria Radio would have a world-reach with syndicated programs picked up by the very network that launched them.

The station was so small at that time that it actually did not physically exist. "I learned that there was no studio. There was nothing but a computer and a leased signal,"  Kresta recalled. By August, however, a studio had been built.  And in spite of growing pains, Kresta said he and Sally never doubted his decision to work for Ave Maria Communications - a station named in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 
Success and Suffering

Four years into the operation, the station seemed to be prospering spiritually and the first pledge drive was a success. Kresta had just reported on the extraordinary support that had from over 1,200 pledges. The atmosphere at the station was euphoric.  It was then that Monaghan, a devout Catholic, issued a warning.  "Well, if we're doing what we're supposed to be doing, the devil won't take it lying down," Monaghan said.  "You'd better be ready for spiritual combat."

According to Kresta, Monaghan's words were prophetic. In February of 2003, Kresta blamed overwork and not taking better care of himself for getting run down. He stayed home from work and had a priest friend bring him Holy Communion. Again, there seemed to be a premonition here. He said to his friend, "I don't know what's going on, but I feel like I have spiritual log jam and Our Lord is going to have to do something and I'm afraid it's going to be painful."

That following Monday, he was rushed to St. Joseph Mercy hospital and unable to walk.  Pain from his lower back shot through to his left leg. His blood pressure dropped so low, he could not take any pain medication for hours until it was brought back up. A flesh-eating bacteria was attacking Kresta's leg. Antibiotics seemed unable to stop it.  The only hope was emergency.
Fr. John Riccardo visited Kresta on the day of his surgery. "He asked me to offer up my sufferings for the sake of the Church and the openness of all men and women to hear the Gospel." 

Coming out of a 5-day induced coma to aid in his recovery, Kresta made a sound through his breathing tube in his throat to get his 12-year old son's James' attention. James ran to the waiting room to get his older sister, Alexis, then 21, who immediately went to Kresta's bedside.
"Did they save my leg?," he asked. 

"Well, what did the doctor say to you before surgery?"

"He said I could lose my life or I could lose my leg."

"Dad, they took your leg."

Kresta said he did not feel sad. "The message came through clearly. "At that moment, I did not grieve for my lost leg, because in comparison to my life, it was not so important."
He determined that he would use his time of suffering. "I did not want to forget why I was there. I wanted my personal life in order, to become more like Christ and receive sanctity, and in that way the work, the ministry would flow from that."
 
Not Alone

Kresta did not suffer alone.  During this time, his wife also became hospitalized with cellulitis on the same leg. It was a completely different disease but also very serious. Amputation had been considered.  "We have such a symbiotic relationship." Kresta said. "Members of Christ's body are united and we bear each others burdens in spiritual ways. Sally and I believe that God was doing something in us together. I don't have a golden telegram telling me that, but it's what I feel."

At this time, Detroit news reporter and veteran, Teresa Tomeo, had recently left secular media to join the catholic market after a reversion to her Catholic faith.  She started to work for Ave Maria Radio just two months before Kresta's illness. Tomeo and Kresta had previously worked together at an evangelical Christian station, so she was looking forward to working with him at a Catholic station.  "I got a call from Al's friend, Steve Ray, who had taken him to the hospital.  He told me that I had to take over for Al at work because he was very sick and might not live."

Teresa's previous twenty years of broadcasting in Detroit's radio and television market, gave her the confidence to handle doing two shows while he was recovering. "We had a skeleton staff and were used to doing a lot with a little, so I just put it into auto-pilot."  She took over for Kresta's talk show while still doing her own program.

"It was amazing to see the outpouring of support, for Al,"  Tomeo said. "He had been involved in the prolife movement, owned a bookstore, he had worked at an evangelical radio station and had been a pastor, and was now in Catholic radio, so he was well known throughout Michigan."  She said that people of all denominations were prayed for him, sent cards and offered to do anything they could to help the family.

Kresta attributes all the prayers and support with lifting him up.  "Those prayers gave me more courage to trust that God was really at work. For months afterwards, I still had the feeling of unity, being a part of the mystical body of Christ."

"And God was using everything for good, as it says in Scripture," Tomeo added. "At a time we were trying to get the word out about Ave Maria Radio, Al's disease brought in all kinds of attention even from the national media with the flesh-eating bacteria aspect." She said that even a year later, with follow up stories, Kresta had a chance to talk about Ave Maria Radio and about how his Catholic faith helped him make sense out of suffering.

A few years later, Nick Thomm, executive producer of "Kresta in the Afternoon," discovered he had a brain tumor.  A biopsy determined the slow growing tumor was not cancerous, but it had to be removed and treated with radiation.  A year later, it started to grow again and was treated with chemotherapy and radiation.  Thomm attributed his friend and mentor with providing an example that helped him to stay positive. "Al  had said that instead of asking 'Why me?' he had asked, 'Why not me?'  Given the support, good medical care, loving parish, family, friends and community, he had decided that he was as equipped as anyone to handle it." 

Kresta explained that although there has been suffering among families at Ave Maria, there is an understanding that suffering comes to everyone.  "We accept it and we pray for each other," he said. "When the suffering comes, we use it to offer up for our ministry. It is easier to endure when it has a purpose."

Prayers are the backbone of Ave Maria and their evangelization projects. The staff prays for each other and their listeners. The chapel on site holds 4 daily Masses open to both staff and the community. Two convents of nuns, The Dominican Sister's of Mary Mother of the Eucharist and the Servants of God's Love, pray for the station and for all prayer requests. People can email or call the station to add their intentions. 

Suffering has been at the center of the evangelization effort at Ave Maria. It is not an accident that they named the station after the Blessed Mother, the one who endured tremendous suffering at the foot of the cross. The Ave Maria Radio team has united with Our Lady at the foot of the cross over these past 15 years.  This anniversary milestone is their "resurrection moment" - celebrating 15 years that God has allowed them to "proclaim the Gospel to all the nations."
 
Resurrection Celebration

Ave Maria Radio, the world's largest producer of original English language Catholic radio programming, is celebrating its 15th year of spreading the gospel, despite early challenges. They produce over twenty different titles, including three live programs that air weekdays-Kresta in the Afternoon with Al Kresta, Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo, and The Doctor is In with Dr. Ray Guarendi and Coleen Kelly Mast-that are all heard over the EWTN global Catholic radio network's nearly 200 stations, as well as EWTN's Sirius satellite radio channel, streaming audio on the Internet, and iPhone and Android apps.

Over the past 15 years, Ave Maria has not only been involved in evangelization efforts on the radio but has initiated other projects such as their recent "Stop HHS" campaign.  When the HHS Mandate was passed earlier this year, Ave Maria led an effort in the country by starting an educational web site www.StopHHS.com and petition drive, which has collected over 100,000 signatures.  The site brings awareness and the latest news about the mandates attack on our religious freedom. Kresta is the official spokesperson for the Stop HSS and is passionate to let others know how important this is not only for us as Catholics but for all peoples of all religions in our nation.  "We want to help ensure our freedom continues here in America," said Kresta.  We need to pray - our nation is at a crossroads."

To celebrate 15 years on the air, Ave Maria Catholic Radio is hosting a concert featuring country music superstar, Collin Raye, and Nashville recording artist along with Franciscan University of Steubenville alumni, Andrea Thomas, at Hill Auditorium on the University of Michigan Campus in Ann Arbor, MI, Saturday, August 25th at 7:30 pm. Doors to the celebration concert open at 6:30 p.m.  Ticket prices are $18, $28, $36, and $46. Go to www.MUTOtix.com or call 734-763-TKTS (8587) for tickets and information or visit Ave Maria Radio's 15th Anniversary web site at www.Ave15.com.  For radio programming information as well as discovering ways to support and donate to Ave Maria Radio can be found on their web site at www.AveMariaRadio.net.

-----
 
Patti Maguire Armstrong is Catholic writer and speaker and mother of ten children. Read more on her blog, or follow on Twitter or Facebook, or her Family website

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

St Therese of the Child Jesus: In the Heart of the Church I Will Be Love Watch

Image of Perhaps one of the most beloved saints of the Catholic Church,Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) had wisdom beyond any formal learning which came from the depth of her interior life

By St Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its ... continue reading


The Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels and Powerful Spiritual Allies Sent by Love and for Love Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading


Pope Cornelius and Bishop Cyprian are Examples for this Age of Martyrs Watch

Image of The blessed Cyprian suffered martyrdom on 14 September, under the emperors Valerian and Gallienus, but in the reign of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever. Amen.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

God and his angels look down upon us; Christ, who looks on as we do battle in the contest of faith. What great dignity and glory are ours, what happiness to struggle in the presence of God and to be crowned by Christ our judge. Let us be armed with a great ... continue reading


Feast of St Augustine of Hippo: Defender of Truth Watch

Image of St. Augustine:

By F. K. Bartels

If there is any message which can be drawn from St. Augustine's life, and there are many, it is the message of repentance and conversion. This is a message the world desperately needs to hear today. It is one of heartfelt dedication to Christ as Master, Teacher and ... continue reading


Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Reminds Us that 'Love Is Sufficient of Itself' Watch

Image of Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the ... continue reading


Saint Clare Shows Us How The Path of Simplicity Can Lead To A Greater Love for Christ

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

We learn from St. Clare both the importance of giving one's life to Christ as well as the sublime, eternal rewards of doing so. When we leave the fleeting, temporary created objects of the world behind, no longer placing our trust in them or seeing them as inordinately ... continue reading


Fr. Paul Schenck on Edith Stein: Daughter of Israel, Daughter of the Church Watch

Image of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz: Throughout her life, Edith never renounced or denounced her Jewish identity. Rather, as demonstrated in her memoir, her participation in Jewish customs at home, her letter to the Pope and in her correspondences, she spoke of her Jewish roots as intrinsic to her self-identification, to her views and even to aspects of her vocation

By Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck

August 9 is the Memorial of St. Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, Edith Stein, Catholic feminist, philosopher and martyr of Auschwitz. In this sketch, Fr. Paul Chaim Benedicta Schenck, Jewish born priest and Chair of the National Pro-Life Center (Washington, DC), examines the ... continue reading


Memorial of Ignatius of Loyola, Priest: We are all Called to Become Saints Watch

Image of On July 31st we remember the founder of the Company or Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Ignatius of Loyola. He is the patron saint of soldiers and of retreatants. There is a connection. He was a soldier and the Spiritual Exercise which he left us have been used for hundreds of years to help men and women like us encounter Jesus Christ, on retreats, and in our daily lives. The disciplines they promote can help us to grow in holiness of life, no matter what our state in life, and equip us for service in the Army of the King, Jesus Christ.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Over the centuries, the Jesuits have been relied upon by Popes as trustworthy, heroic soldiers for Jesus Christ and His Church. Yes, there have been times when the company seemed to lose its fervor. However, Jesus Christ the King has always sent His Spirit to ... continue reading


Saint Alphonsus Liguori and the Chains of Love Watch

Image of Alphonsus Liguori, is the founder of the Redemptorist community. n the constitution of the community we read these words: Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic men and genuine disciples of St. Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption. (Constitution #20)

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Since God knew that man is enticed by favors, he wished to bind him to his love by means of his gifts: - I want to catch men with the snares, those chains of love in which they allow themselves to be entrapped, so that they will love me.And all the gifts which he ... continue reading


In the Major Legend, St. Bonaventure Points us to St Francis - and the Lord Jesus Christ Watch

Image of Bonaventure was a friend and a disciple of Francis. When he looked at Francis he saw Jesus Christ. Bonaventure, like his friend Francis, was also a mystic. To him the Spirit of Francis is the Spirit of Jesus and

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On July 15th in the Liturgical Calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we commemorate the life, holiness, work and death of a great Bishop and Doctor named Bonaventure. He was born in 1218, became a Franciscan Friar in 1243, and died in 1274. A friend ... continue reading


All Christian Saints & Heroes News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 23:20-23
20 'Look, I am sending an angel to precede you, to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 91:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 10-11
1 You who live in the secret place of Elyon, spend ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 18:1-5, 10
1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Leger
October 2: Leger was raised at the court of King Clotaire II and by his ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter