Biograph of Leo Fasciocco - Updated 2/20/2020
The Spiritual Battlefield
Biography and Spiritual Journey of Leo Fasciocco Jr.
Jesus the Christ
I was born on August 24, 1944 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. My Father was Leo Fasciocco Sr. and my mother Edna Doherty. My father was the son of Italian immigrants from Abruzzo, Italy. My mother was the daughter of Irish immigrants from Dublin, Ireland.
I was named Leo Dominic Fasciocco Jr. after my father.
Leo and Edna
My parents married young, in their early 20s. My father was drafted into the army for World War 2 and my mother and her mother took care of me in Atlantic City, until my father was released from the Army and came home.
I was baptized at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Atlantic City, just off Atlantic blvd. not far from the well-known boardwalk.
Leo as a child in Atlantic City
When I was about two or three our family moved to Philadelphia, near my father’s mother’s neighborhood. We had an apartment near 52nd Street and Girard, Ave. in West Philadelphia, across the Street from a large cemetery…where I and some young friends would play.
At about 6 years old we moved to West Philadelphia and bought a big three story house. My father rented the top floor to a nice couple that my parents became friends for a long time.
My father worked as a milkman delivering milk and dairy products to stores and houses. He was also a forman. My mother stayed at home. Our family later added my sister Jeanette, 3 years younger than me. Then there were the twins John and Bill, 8 years younger and Linda, 11 years younger. My brother Bob came later and was 20 years younger.
My father was active with baseball. He started a neighbor little league team, the Shawnee Indians. He later became baseball coach at Yeadon High School in Yeadon, Pa., and later started a little league at Cobbs Creek Park.
We went to catholic mass every Sunday at St. Francis de Sales in West Philadelphia. My father liked to go to the 11 a.m. high mass and listen to the big choir. The group later made some records. They were very good. My father in later years joined the choir at Our Lady of Mt. Calvary Church in Northeast Philadelphia.
I began grammar school at St. Francis de Sales in Philadelphia. I went 8 years there and was an altar boy for 4 years. I had the chance to serve the auxiliary bishop McShea who was there. At school, I won some special awards for math.
My spiritual journey began at St. Francis de Sales. Being an altar boy I was close to all the priests and the bishop. I do remember, and never forgot serving an hour of adoration and looking at the monstrance in the church and just being at peace. However, I had no special perception or mystical sense of God’s presence.
I do remember vividly an incident in second grade. We were planning to have a demonstration for the parents. We were practicing in the class room, and I got up out of my desk and began to recite my lines.
The nun, Sister Mary Gertrude, walked down the aisle toward me with her rosary beads at her side dangling. She stopped in front of me… why I do not know. I stopped talking.
She looked at me rolled up her sleeve and whacked me extremely hard across the face and I went flying across the desk. I had no understanding why she smacked me so hard. All the kids in the class were shocked.
Leo, Leo Jr., Jeanette, Edna
Interestingly, my talk was "Do on to others as you would have them do on to you."
However, I perceived it to be Sister Mary Gertrude as the figure came closer to me. I had not thought of her for many years. I sensed she was asking me for forgiveness. I said it is all right. Later, I tried to research her but could not find anything.
In the Christian mystical world, I would interpret it as her later repenting for what she had done to me as a little kid.
I went to West Catholic high school in Philadelphia and was taught by the Christian Brothers. During high school, I did the usual things, but had no real perception of God and the mystical life yet.
Everything in High School was to do what you were told. There was a lot of discipline.
Leo Sr. and Leo Jr.
I did not have a car and traveled by bus or El. I had a great senior prom that I never thought I would be going to. I never went to any dances because I did not have a car.
My friend, Kathy Neubauer who lived around the corner and was a junior at West Catholic Girls was my date. We had a very nice time. She was an attractive and outstanding gal.
We went to the Bellvue Stratford Hotel in downtown Philadelphia for the ball. Later we went to the Falcon Club in the suburbs and to my shock they all wanted to go bowling at 1 a.m. in the morning. I was on the championship bowling team. So, off we went. It was a very nice evening.
I graduated from High School in 1962 and then went on to Temple University in Philadelphia as an economics major. During my college years I worked at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Newspaper in the editorial department.
In 1960, when John F. Kennedy was nominated for president the Bulletin put a color picture of him on the front page. That was expensive and unusual. I was working in the editorial department and it was a Saturday and I looked at the picture of JFK and it looked odd.
I took the paper over to the picture desk editors and said to them this picture is not right. They said to me get lost kid. I said the part in JFK's head is on the wrong side. The picture editor grabbed the paper out of my hand and yelled to the other editors - stop the presses -- JFK's color picture is backwards!
After graduating from college, to my surprise, I was offered a job being a financial writer at the Bulletin. I told the financial editor Joe Livingston, who won two Pulitzer Prizes, I didn’t know anything about writing. Nonsense, he said, we will train you. One of the financial editors was Jeremy Gaige who I used to play chess with at lunch when I worked at the Bulletin while I was in college.
The Average Catholic Guy
At this point in my life, I was just an average type Christian who just went to mass and tried to do the right thing.
I took a leave from the Bulletin newspaper in 1966, to serve six months in the Army Reserve – 304th Civil Affairs Group based in Philadelphia. I had joined the Army reserves for six years. This was at the time of the Vietnam War and race riots.
During basic training, we were on a range using our M-14 rifles and moving down lanes toward a prop-machine gun nest. At one point I stood up and fired my rifle and it blew up in my hand and came apart. The balastic guys blew whistles and ran down to me.
One of the officers, reached down and picked up the small bullet and handed it to me and said, “Your lucky to be alive kid.”
After serving active duty, I returned to the Bulletin, but my job as a financial writer was given to some one else. They said we can give you a job being a sports writer.
However, to my surprise – The Holy Spirit started to work – the fellow who had my old job quit. So, I was given my job back as a financial writer.
My job required me to interview corporate executives, cover analysts meetings and go to stockholder meetings.
I bought a new car, got a new apartment and was on my way.
Of course, now, I decided it was time to settle down and meet some one who I might want to marry. At this time, my faith was becoming dormant. I attended mass infrequently. The usual line – I did not get anything out of it.
It was in 1971 that a new movement in the Church was taking hold – The charismatic movement. It came from a prayer at Vatican Council 2 when they prayed for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
At the Bulletin newspaper, I began to meet some nice gals and dated briefly Lolly, Irene, Barbara and a few others. I went to a few clubs but found them to be boring. I was not a drinker and I did not care to drink.
Then it happened. I was 27.
I went to cover the shareholder meeting of Atlantic Richfield Corp. in downtown Philadelphia. I was sitting in the Press section and this nice gal came in and sat beside me.
The PR guy at Atlantic Richfield came over and said to her: “I am sorry miss you can not sit here. This is for the press.” The place was packed. I said, “Hey, Joe, it's okay why don’t you let her sit here.” She was cute but looked very young. I didn't know if she was 15 or 25. However, she was at a shareholder's meeting!?
The meeting began and we commented to one another about the goings on. Finally, the meeting was over and I had to go to the Atlantic Richfield press meeting. I turned to the girl and said to her what is your name. She said Mary Jo. I said would you like to go to dinner to night. Here eyes lit up in surprise. She said yes. I took her address and told her I would pick her up at 6 p.m.
Later that day, I picked up Mary Jo (Flanagan) and we went to the restaurant at the Marriott Hotel Restaurant on city line road. She was living in center city with three other girls in a three-story colonial home.
We came into the restaurant. Mary Jo was dressed elegantly. I was impressed. So, was the Matra de who took us to the best seat in the restaurant near the fire place.
We had dinner and spoke about our families and the things we liked. I was smitten. I said to myself this is the girl I want to marry. Yes, it was “love” at first sight.
I drove her home and said good night. No kiss.
I continued to go with Mary Jo for about five months. We went to some shows, Fiddler on the Roof, played golf and took a day trip to New York and visited the Empire State Building.
While I was at an army reserve meeting in Philly, there was another guy in the outfit by the name of Larry Rutan. He would go around and say to some guys: “Have you given your life to Jesus Christ.”
He did that to me and I told him: “Larry get lost.”
At this time, Church was not on my mind. It was just something you had to do.
However, the Lord had placed in my heart the seed of conversion.
It was this: I knew the most important thing in the world was – Love.
To me, love was a giving of self without expecting anything in return.
I was also atuned to truth. I was taught to speak the truth and be honest.
As the weeks and months rolled on, my relationship with Mary Jo was okay but not going any place. She said she wanted to go out with other people. I was 27. She was 26.
We were at a party at her and her girlfriend’s house one evening. Mary Jo was a dietitian at the University of Pennsylvania hospital. Some of her friends from work were there.
I came to the party alone. She greeted me and introduced me to a few friends. That was the last I saw of her. She spent the rest of the evening speaking with others. I came up to her and said I am going home. I really felt low and rejected.
Ahh… but the Lord was about to begin his work in me.
I went to Sunday mass and I picked up a hand out that changed my life.
It was the passage from the epistle of St. John. God is Love.
It said from the fourth chapter:
Beloved let us love one another, for love is of God.
Everyone that loves is born of God and knows God.
God’s love was shown to us in this way. He gave His
only begotten Son so that we might have life through Him.
And, he that lives in Love
lives in God and God in him.
So reading that passage gave me the idea that you can not have true love unless you love God.
In all my catholic education I had never related God to Love. It was always God is discipline. Do what you are told.
I was excited by this discovery. Oh! To love God and He will love You. You love God just because….
I called Mary Jo and said to her let's have dinner. We went to an Italian restaurant. We were sitting there eating and I gave her a copy of the passage about God is Love.
She seemed blaze about it. I was surprised, because I was excited about the discovery.
Then she looked up at me from her dish and said:
MaryJo Flanagan (Likeness Picture)
Leo, you know what is wrong with you? You know how to give love, but you don’t know how to receive love.
Then she went back to eating.
(The picture of her is a likeness of Mary Jo. She did not want me to take any pictures of her during the time we went out.)
I was dumb founded I did not know exactly what she meant.
Then she said the words that help change my live and view of marriage.
Mary Jo said, “Leo, don’t you know that true love between a man and a woman is physical and spiritual.”
The bells went off in my head.
Yes, that is right two people can have a physical attraction to one another, but there needs to be a spiritual attraction based on God’s love.
Now, I understood love and God’s importance in our lives.
Oh, to Love God with all your heart, and all your mind and all your soul.
I thought to myself this girl really understands – True Love.
It was exactly what my inner self was searching for. I had the answer.. we need to love God with all our heart.
The question of course is how do we do that.
Then it all came back to me – the mass, the bible, confession… all the things I had learned in my youth all began to make sense and fall into place.
Oh, I was so filled with excitement.
Whether May Jo was the girl for me or not did not matter. It was simply to put God our Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit first. All of a sudden all the saints made sense. They were in love with God.
My heart was filled with joy.
Later, I called Mary Jo on the phone and told her I understood clearly about the love of God and his love for me and how he gave his Son for my sins.
Her answer on the phone was: Oh! Leo, I am so happy for you.
She understood about the love of God.
It was like I had come up from the Jordan river and was baptized.
However, unknown to me the next part of my spiritual venture would take me immediately to the desert.
It was a Friday and I was elated that I had discovered the love of God for me and I in return wanted to love Him with all my heart. However, in the evening I started to get all kinds of strange thoughts coming out of no where. Ahh, you’re no good. Do you really think God loves you? You’re a sinner and you’are going to hell.
I had never experienced anything like this. It was what the spiritual writers call …. A period of desolation or as St. John of the Cross calls it in his book - "The dark night of The Soul."
I thought I was going crazy and out of my mind. Then I remembered my friend Larry from the army. He knew about this stuff.
I called him on the phone. It must have been eight at night on Friday. He spoke to me with great confidence. He said to me: "Leo, we are going to have to pray."
And I said, Larry, I don’t know how to pray.
He said, “You just follow me." He began to pray a prayer of repentance.
That I had lived my life for myself and not for God. Then all of a sudden a spiritual question arose in my mind that started to torment me.
Why do you believe there is a God?
Later in my research of St. Teresa of Avila she talks about this kind of spiritual desolation.
St Teresa of Avila
I told Larry the question. He just said keep praying with me.
Then all of a sudden the word came to my mind “out of no where“
I believe in God because it is ….. the TRUTH.
When I said that all the desolation lifted from me. I felt a tremendous peace and actually began to predict things about the future and say things.
But, I always finished with it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is to love God with your whole heart.
I was at peace.
I told Larry I need to go to sleep. He later told me we prayed for about two hours. It did not seem like that at all.
The next morning – Saturday (January 1972) I went and visited Larry. It was just a short drive into New Jersey. I was very emotional. I came back to Philly and wanted to go to confession. I went to confession at Our Lady of Mt. Calvary Church in northeast Philadelphia. That was close to my apartment.
Afterwards I remember asking the priest, a Father Brennan, if pleasure was sinful. He said only if it is done in excess.
Our Lady of Mt. Calvary Church
I left the church around 3 p.m. It was Saturday and I was headed to the Bulletin to do some work.
I remembered there was some sins I did not confess. I wanted to be perfect before God because I loved him.
I stopped at the Cathedral in downtown Philadelphia and went into the chapel.
I went to confession again. This time the priest said to me in a bland boring type-tone that seemed of disinterest ….for you penance say three Hail Mary’s.
I left the confessional felling uneasy. I went to the first pew in the chapel and began to pray.
Then all of a sudden out of no where came the thought that my sins were not forgiven and that I was going to hell.
Although to some it may sound odd. However, to me the oppression of the thought was awesome and overwhelming. I began to weep in the church and clutch a small leather bible in my hand.
I could not rid myself of the thought.
I said: “Oh, My God, I love you so much that if you want me to go to hell, I will go there for you. I love you and will do anything. I will go to hell for you.”
I was weeping uncontrollably. I was shaking too.
Two priest came up to me and said you will have to leave. I could not move.
Philadelphia Cathedral Chapel
The oppression was so great. A short time later two policeman came in and dragged me out of the church to a police car.
I though I had gone insane.
They drove me to Hahnemann Hospital in downtown Philadelphia.
I was numb in the car overwhelmed with grief. One of the cops who sat with me in the back of the police car said, "Give me that 'God D. Book you SOB.”'
I started to weep even more thinking to myself - O’God, he does not believe in you.
We arrived at the hospital and they took me out of the police car and put me in a wheelchair.
As I sat there all of a sudden the oppression lifted. I felt at peace again.
I had my mind back. God had given me a second chance.
All I knew was that I should always be humble before God who gave me a second chance.
The spiritual desolation had lifted.
I was taken into the hospital. A short time later a doctor with a nurse came in and my parents arrived.
Hahnemann Hospital - Philadelphia
My father said to me what happened?
I said everything is alright. I think I am going to become a monk.
I just wanted to go away and be with God.
Later my folks left and I found out that my father went home and wept.
The doctor said to me I think you should stay at the hospital for a while.
My only thought was to be humble. I said do you think that is best.
He said yes.
I said Okay. So, I was admitted to the hospital.
Regaining my Strength
I stayed at the hospital for about a week and then left. They had given me some drugs to take. I felt okay and had rested and got my strength back. However, it took me over a year to break free of the drug. That is another story!
While in the hospital, I had all my senses. I felt like St. Paul
being knocked off his horse.
While in the hospital, I had all my senses. I felt like St. Paul being knocked off his horse.
I knew I needed two things –
1 - To study scriptures and the spiritual life and
2- To find out what had happened and to meet others like myself who loved God with their whole heart.
One incident while in the hospital I can relate. I was sitting in a chair in the recreation room and reading the bible.
This young girl who was in the hospital ran up to me out of no place and fell at my knees. And to my amazement, she said to me ….you know….you know … read Luke to me … read Luke to me….. I did and I realized that she too was a spiritual casualty.
Also, I was asked in the hospital if I would like to be interviewed by a few doctors and their students.
I said Okay. I knew I was with the Lord. I was not afraid of anything. He was with me.
Did You See the Devil?
I went into this class room at the hospital with about two doctors and 10 students and they began to question me about my experience in the church.
The key question was – Did you see the devil?
I felt that they were trying to trick me.
I could not say no because I sensed afterwards that it was. I could not lie.
I could not say yes or they would think I was a nut --- from their pagan view point.
My answer – definitely influenced by the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit was….
“I can not say that it was the devil. All I can say is that I experienced great confusion in the church. If you want to equate confusion with the devil, then I will leave that to your own assumptions.”
After I said that, I could not believe I had said it. There was no doubt that I was being inspired by the Holy Spirit. I sense the words coming out of my mouth were truly inspired. I was impressed myself.
Later two of the students wanted to interview me. I said Okay.
They came and I answered their questions.
Then I said to one of them do you have a girl friend. He said yes. I said, “Do you sleep with her."
He said yes. Do you love her? He said I don’t know.
Then I said, “Well you perform the act of love with some one you don’t love. Is that true?”
He said, “well, uh uh… yes.”
I said, “Well then you are the one not living in the TRUTH."
And - Truth is defined as correspondence with realty.
So, you are the person who is crazy and not living in reality. Not me.
He was shocked when he heard the answer. He left.
Filled with the Holy Spirit
I left the hospital on a Saturday and returned home. I was filled with the Holy Sprit and wanted to give my Life to the Lord.
I also needed to find others who understood the Holy Spirit. I soon found them in the charismatic movement. It was January of 1972. I was 27 years old living near Northeast Philadelphia in a suburb called Andalusia.
After coming home, I returned to work at the Bulletin. Some of my friends there came up to me and said what happened to you Leo. I gave them no answerer because I knew they would not understand.
I began to study the bible and the lives of the saints looking for the things they experienced so I could learn from them. I was a rookie.
But I also became a “holly terror” to non-believes. I was not afraid of anything. I guess a little bit of the grace that fell on St. Paul fell on me!
Mary Jo would not talk to me or write. I think my parents blamed her. To this day I do not know.
One day I went home to my folks who lived near by and I walked in the house and put the bible down on the kitchen table and pointed my finger at it and said this is where it is at. Why didn’t you tell me?
They looked at me dumb founded. I was on fire with the Holy Spirit and wanted every one to know and experience the love of God.
I went downstairs to see my brothers who were in their teens and I pointed my finger at them and said you two better get down to church and go to confession and mass right now. It was Saturday.
They did. Yes, I was on fire for the Lord! (Interestingly, years later my brother John joined the Consolata Missionaries as a lay person and served in Kenya, Africa.)
While in the hospital I had read the passage: “Your enemy the devil walks about like a roaring line seeking whom he may devour. Resist him firm in your faith.”
The Army and Church Call
Later, I went back to my Army unit for weekend training. On Sunday, we were allowed “church call.”
I asked the top sergeant when we could leave for church call. He said there will not be any church call. He said forget it.
Fort Dix Rifle Range
Later I wrote a letter to the commander, a Colonel, telling him how important it was to have church call. I had remembered seeing the Colonel in Church in the past when we had church call.
The next month our unit shipped out to Fort Dix in New Jersey to fire rifles on the range. It was Sunday.
I am on the range with many other soldiers firing my rifle. All of a sudden an officer comes up and says to me, you have to go to church call. I was shocked.
A jeep pulled up and I was taken from the firing range and got into the jeep. I told the lieutenant what is going on. He said the Colonel wants to make sure you go to church.
We went to the church on Fort Dix. I went in with army fatigues and went to mass. I came out and the non-com in the jeep drove me back to the firing range. He said to me, “Man, I wish I had faith like you.”
I was not proud. I just prayed in my mind that he would experience the powerful love of God.
I was growing in the spirit and gaining strength.
A few weeks after coming out of the hospital, I was praying about my life and considering entering the Franciscans. It was on my mind to quit my job and go into the spiritual life.
St. Francis de Sales
The next day I bought the Catholic Standard and Times, the Philadelphia catholic paper.
I took it home and paged through it. Then I get to a big two-page layout on St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of Journalists. It was his feast day!
I could not believe it. The Lord had sent me a sign. I was a journalist and went to school at St. Francis de Sales in Philadelphia.
That wasn’t a coincidence. That was a God incident.
I knew it was meant for me. He had called me to be a journalist. As the later years went by, I did write for the Lord.
To meet good spiritual friends, who knew God like me, I decided to go on a men’s retreat at the Dominican Retreat house near Philadelphia (ElkinsPark, Pa.).
I had never been on a retreat.
I drove on a Friday night looking for the place but could not find it because it was in a wooded area.
|Dominican Retreat House - Philadelphia|
I was about to give up but started to pray and lo and behold I drove by a small sign that said Dominican Retreat House. I hit the breaks – it was a deserted area – backed up the car and drove up to the mansion like house.
It was about eight at night and I went in and met the priest and about 15 or 20 guys. I thought to myself do they understand about God like I do. The group chatted and we went into the chapel for evening prayer.
They went into what is called shared spontaneous prayer. When I heard them pray individually, I knew they knew like I knew. I had found others like me who loved the Lord with all their hearts.
The retreat continued and later they told me they belonged to a charismatic prayer group and they invited me to come. It was on a Wednesday night.
First Charismatic Prayer Meeting
After the retreat, I later went to the prayer meeting. It was at the Dominican House and there were about 40 people and a few priests and nuns.
It was a great Spirit filed meeting with songs, glossalia, prophecy and sharing. I did not know everything that was going on but I felt at home. Afterwards, one elderly lady came up to me and said, "You know don’t you. You see God in everyone.” I said yes.
Some people asked me if I would like to be prayed over. I said okay.
Some people asked me if I would like to be prayed over. I said okay.
Wamo… I sat in a chair and about 15 people layed hands on me and prayed for the Holy Spirit to come down on me. Yes, they prayed in Tongues. Wow! I had found people who loved God like me. Wow.
I attended the meeting for several months. Studied scripture and grew in faith supported by the charismatic family.
Later, I received an opportunity to take a journalism job at Reuters in New York. It was a big step and not an easy one.
I went on a retreat and when I was walking in the woods I picked up a small branch and looked intently at it. The thought came to me (from the Holy Spirit) that life is like this branch. We go up the main body of the branch but some times we make a wrong turn and go off on a small side branch that ends quickly.
However, if that happens. then we just go back down the side branch to the main body of the branch and then proceed to move back up the main body of the branch again. We just start over again.
So, I decided to take the job and go to New York. If it did not work out, I would return to Philadelphia and start all over again.
When I told my Editor at the Bulletin Joe Newman, that I was leaving to go to New York to work for Reuters, the British wire service. He said to me you will never make it. I said to myself it is in God’s hands. I do it for him. I can not lose.
New York – Meeting Our Blessed Lady – The Queen of Peace.
In 1972, I traveled to New York and met the top editor at Reuters at 1200 Broadway. One of the older writers who I had sent freelance financial stores said to me “they really want you badly.”
I though that was encouraging. Reuters, a British worldwide firm, was just moving into the U.S. to compete head on with Dow Jones.
I sent Reuters freelance financial stories when I worked at the Bulletin. I was able to beat the Dow reporter by using some heads up tricks and getting to meetings very early and nailing the CEO prior to his speaking.
Interestingly, a gal from Business Week magazine saw me in action at a meeting and eventually interviewed me and did a story on me for Business Week magazine.
. She called me “Lightfoot Leo” who beats Dow Jones to the story. Needless to say, I became a marked man and Dow would sometimes send two reports to cover a meeting so they could beat me.
Well, Reuters offered me the job. I took it and moved to New York. I took an apartment in Kew Gardens on Long Island next to Forest Hills.
Work went ok. I went to mass at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills and attended the Friday charismatic prayer meeting at the Passionists Monastery on Long Island.
I went to mass on a Sunday. During the offertory they played a hymn and I was singing along and the hymn was over and all of a sudden I started to pray and sing in tongues.
Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in New York, Forest Hills.
I kept it low, but I was just surprised. All of a sudden, I had the charismatic gift of tongues.
I met a parish priest there and spoke with him and he asked if I would help him visit people’s homes. I said yes. It went well.
When I attended the charismatic meeting at the Passionists monastery, I met one of the brothers and got to talking with him. He took me to the monastery library and he showed me around all the books. He turned to me and said, “Some day you may right a book and it will be on one of these shelves.”
At that point in my life, I was just a rookie. So, I had no idea about writing on a spiritual topic.
Work at Reuters was very busy, but after work I would go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and attend mass around 5 p.m. and then go home.
At home I would spend some time reading and praying in the evening.
One evening when I was praying --- and it was a deep contemplative type prayer which I found easy to do --- all of a sudden I felt some something come over like a wave with great power and I began to hear an actual audible voice and I felt as if I was going to be picked up off the ground.
Passionist Monastery on Long Island, N.Y.
I stopped praying, jumped up and started to walk around the room. I was really startled. I said, "No one’s picking me up unless I know who it is." I was really scared because I had never felt anything like that in my life.
The next day, I called my Passionist monk friend and asked to meet with him. He said okay.
I drove over and met him and told him how when I was praying I felt something powerful swoop over me and I felt as if I was going to be picked up and I began to hear an audible voice.
To my surprise, he looked at me and fell on his knees and asked me to pray over him.
I was surprises. I thought I was the one in need.
I prayed over him and then I knelt down and asked him to pray over me.
He did and he prayed: “O Lord give Leo peace and help him in this situation.
Passionist Monastery - Prayer Room
I went home feeling better, but still apprehensive about spending a lot of time in quiet prayer.
The Rosary – Meeting the Queen of Peace
A few days later I went to mass at a parish and came home. The name of the parish, Our Lady Queen of Peace. Near Kew Gardens, New York.
Then it dawned on me, the monk had prayed that I would have peace and Mary, the Blessed Lady, was the Queen of Peace.
I then thought what I will do is develop a spiritual relationship with Mary, the Blessed Lady because …. Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you!
So, I thought if I go to Mary then that is where the Lord will be.
So, I would not be fooled by the bad guy.
Unknown to me at the time, it was the same kind of spiritual approach used by some saints like St. Louis de Montfort.
So, I decided to pray the rosary every day.
I went to pray the rosary and I could not do it. All the words, the meditations ugh.
Queen of Peace Church - Kew Gardens, N.Y.
I was use to just praying and thinking about Jesus presence and the Father. Finally, I realized I had been lifted to a level of infused contemplative prayer and was now coming down. The Lord wanted me to learn the basics of prayer.
So I decided to pray one decade a night and do my best.
I had a yearning for the prayer of quiet, but was still afraid. I wasn’t going to let anyone or thing pick me up or scare me. So, I spent just a little time in quiet.
Stepping out in Faith
I was still on fire for the Lord and wrote Mary Jo some letters telling her how important it was to have a prayer life and be close to God.
She wrote back and said she did think about me, but she said she did not want me to write to her or call her any more. She said it was not only good for me but for her. I did as she asked.
At this time in 1972, I was taking the medicine the doctors gave me in the hospital. I wanted to get off it. So, I cut the pill in half and just took half.
I drove to Philadelphia to visit my family. I had a good time and then drove back to New York. On the drive back, I prayed out loud in the car and sang some songs. I said to the Lord, I am going to stop taking the pills and put all my faith in You.
When I arrived home in New York, I went into my apartment and felt a deep presence of God. I fell on my knees in the bedroom and felt these words come to my mind….”Because you have done this I have given you the gift of healing.”
I wept. Then the next day I met my monk friend at the Passionist Monastery and told him what had happened. He said to me do not worry. The Lord will use you in his own time. Seek to be at peace and be patient. That was very consoling.
I continued my work at Reuters. However, I did experience withdraw symptoms from the medicine. I went to see a doctor and it was confirmed. I took a week off from Reuters to see the doctor and take some tests. Everything came out that I was okay.
I returned to Reuters and told them I was considering leaving. To make a long story short, managing editor Maggie Kline, who I later found out was a catholic, offered me a double raise if I would transfer to Reuters Chicago and work at the Board of Trade.
I prayed and decided to take the promotion and the slower pace in Chicago.
So, I moved to Chicago. I spent the first two months in hotels until I got my apartment in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago near Northwestern University.
While, I stayed at the hotel I would spend the evenings praying vocal and meditation prayer, especially the holy rosary which I had begun in New York. I did find the prayer a bit dry.
Holy Name Cathedral - Chicago
I did realize I had been lifted into a high level of contemplation from my experience in Philadelphia and New York, and now it seemed if I was coming down and Our Lord was teaching me “the basics of prayer” such as meditation.
However, when I went into silence in Chicago, I was still fearful of something extraordinary happening…perhaps levitation or locution.
He said yes. He was on the plane next day, landed at LA airport, I picked him up and on our way back to the apartment a car cut in front of us on the freeway. The license said MARY… etc.. Wow, that was a sign the Lord was with us.
We got to the apartment on Alexandria Street in West Los Angeles. I had them bring in a bed and Father Mark stayed with me for about the next two weeks.
The spiritual battle consisting of consolations, desolations and mystical experiences continued and Father Mark experienced some too. In retrospect, it was like “basic combat training in the Lord’s army.”
I continued to get hit every once in a while by bad thoughts and doubts. I told Father Mark and he would pray over me and it would go away.
Interestingly, he started to get the “bad thoughts or desolations” and he asked me to pray over him.
Then I understood why the Lord sent his disciples out in pairs. “Where two or more of you are gathered, there I am in your midst.”
I got one temptation thought that I was St. John. I prayed and a word came to my mind no…"The Eagle is in the nest."
The church symbol for St. John the Apostle is the eagle.
The bad spiritual thoughts passed away. There were other thoughts too that hit me and father Mark and each time the other person would pray and it would disappear.
This lasted for about five days off and on.
One time I got a false thought, Father Mark prayed over me and it was gone.
Then after that occurred I sensed the presence of our Blessed Lady being there and I felt as if she was kissing me all over my face.
I felt humbled and shy. I sensed she was happy for us and how we were helping each other. I sensed she was proud of me.
I recalled at that time the mystical phenomena of “The Divine Touch.”
Believe me, I really felt humble.
The interior battle that I and Father Mark were experiencing began to subside.
A few days later Father Mark met a lady who needed help and he said he need to go to her aid. So, I did not see him for a few days.
Later, we went to Torrance to visit his sister-in-law. She was an older lady and devout.
We chatted and she mentioned how she had a garden in the back yard, but the flowers were not growing. Father Mark and I went outside before we left and we laid hands and prayed over the plants and then left. She called us later and told us the plants were really growing well.
The spiritual battle Father Mark and I went through subsided.
He decided to fly back to Chicago.
I continued my work at Reuters, attended St. Monica’s Church and was a regular at the Friday Charismatic Prayer Meeting.
I told Maggie Kline at Reuters in New York that I would be willing to move from Chicago to Los Angeles. She said ok.
Before flying back to Chicago to close my apartment, I needed to get one in Santa Monica.
St. Monica's Church - Santa Monica, Ca.
I only had a few days left to do that. I went to mass at St. Monica’s on Saturday morning and had a list of about five apartments I need to check out and make a decision on which one to live at.
After Mass, I was praying… and the word (inspiration very clearly came), go to the first place on your list…. “A place has been provided for your.”
Then …being a wise guy…I said, “Well, Lord, what if I don’t like it .”
Looking back in retrospect that was a case of “Leo Pride.” Getting a little to cocky.
After mass, I went down the Street to Washington Avenue, rang the bell and met with the landlord, Nick Ciccarelli. I told him I was interested in the one bedroom apartment. He showed it to me. It was nice and I agreed to rent it.
I went to his apartment and signed the papers and as I did his wife came in and said I have a couple here who wants the one bedroom apartment. Nick said, “Well I’'ve given it to this fellow. He was here first."
Then, I though of the words the Lord had said about 15 minutes before…. “A place has been provided for you.”
Before leaving for Chicago, I got a call from a doctor who said he would like to rent the one-bed room apartment that I had and asked me if I would like to make a deal. I had to fly back to Chicago soon. So, I said no. I will keep the apartment.
I flew back to Chicago and went to my apartment in Evanston, Ill. I made the arrangements for the move. I also had a going away party. It was in December and quite a few people came to my apartment. I told them “Chicago is a cold city, but with warm people.”
After they left around midnight, one fellow who I knew spent some time with me and I answered a lot of his spiritual questions. All of a sudden his eyes lit up and he said now I understand God. I understand! He became a devout Catholic.
My prayer friend Phil Brunowski, who was about my age and who had been in the seminary, decided to visit California with me. So, he and I packed up, hopped into my 1972 Dodge Charger and we headed west.
My furniture and things were shipped ahead.
Phil and I made the cross country drive visiting several cities. The first day as we approached Lincoln, Neb., there was a rain storm and as we came out of it there was a tremendous rainbow that was extremely bright and beautiful.
We got a motel room in Lincoln and had the opportunity to visit a catholic church there that was having a charismatic prayer meeting. We went in and there must have been about 60 people there. We introduced ourselves. It was a warm and loving meeting with nice people and refreshments.
We continued our journey and stopped at Salt Lake City and visited the Mormon Church there. Then we went on to San Francisco and stayed over night there and then traveled down the coast to Santa Monica, Ca.
Phil and I arrived in Santa Monica. I went to Nick Ciccarrelli, the landlord, and asked him for the keys to the one-bedroom apartment.
Nick tells me he gave the apartment to someone else. He said he did not think I was coming.
I said what! I gave you a down payment and signed the lease.
Next, I find out all my furniture and clothes were sent to a warehouse.
Who had my apartment: The doctor who had called me before and who offered me some money to get the apartment.
Then I thought what the Lord had said and how I was a bit of a wise guy by saying what if I did not like it. Ugh.
Nick said to me I have another apartment that is two bedrooms and I can give it to you a month rent free. We went up stairs walked into the apartment. The people had not yet moved all their furniture out.
I walked into the bed room…..up on the wall was a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I thought to my self, Lord this is the place you have provided for me.
I took the apartment.
Phil and I stayed at a motel. He flew back to Chicago a week later and later I moved into the Apartment on 625 Washington ave. in Santa Monica. It was near St. Monica's Church and school.
I lived in that apartment from 1974 until 1994. The next several years were wonderful as my work for Reuters was good and my work for the Lord via St. Monica’s was great.
I attended the St. Monica’s charismatic prayer meeting in the St. Monica’s high school leisure room every Friday. There were about 40 people who came.
It was led by Sister Ann Cic, Sister Bernice and Sister Christine who were from St. John's hospital in Santa Monica. They had a lay team with some members being Frank Karam and Bruce Kitchen. The meeting would open with song and then an introduction for any new visitors. Later prayer of praise in tounges and scripture readings by anyone followed. Later there would be silence and then sharing of how the Holy Spirit had worked in a person or friend's life.
Leo and Sister Ann Cic
Afterwards, there were three class rooms available for personal prayer for healing by a team of about 12 divided up into the three or four class rooms. It was called the healing team.
The Holy Spirit came upon people and there were some outstanding healings. One of the most remarkable was that of Felicia Bradley, mother of three, who was healed of cancer around 1990.
I met with Felicia and wrote about her miracle story and put it on the internet. Some Catholic publications refused the publish it. Hmmm.
Some years later, 2017, I met Felicia after mass when visiting St. Monica’s Church. We spoke and she said she spent her time helping people with various illness. Oddly, she said her husband Bert had recently passed away.
So, Felicia had outlived her husband Bert. Bert was and engineer-architect who helped in the rebuilding of St. Monica’s Church after the devastating earthquake in Los Angeles in 1994.
Back in 1974, when first moving to Santa Monica I would go to the 6:30 a.m. mass. One day as I was sitting in the pew, the young priest who was to do the mass came down to me and asked me to do the readings. I said ok and then did the readings for the mass.
After that, I was asked to do the readings almost all the time at the 6:30 mass at St. Monica’s and I also did the readings at some of the Sunday masses. I went on to do them for about 20 years.
Serving at St. Monica’s Church
Pecos Monastery - New Mexico
I had some interesting situations as I became a regular reader (lector).
I was asked to do the readings at Christmas when the celebrant was Los Angeles cardinal Timothy Manning.
I said, “There are other fellows here who are older and more worthy.” The answer from Msg. Raymond O’Flaherty was no we want you. So, I did the readings and everything went well.
On Sunday morning, I would sometimes go to the 7: A.M. Latin mass which was done by Msgr. O’Flaherty. He later asked me to do the readings and lead the congregation in the Latin responses.
Being a veteran alter boy from St. Francis de Sales parish in Philadelphia, I knew the responses. When I was at St Francis, I would sometimes serve the auxiliary bishop there Bishop McShea and the mass was in Latin.
Msgr O’Flaherty. who was pastor at St. Monica’s church and head of the school for some 25 years, became good friends with me.
He later did my wedding with Beverly Owen at St. Monica’s in 1986.
|Msgr. Raymond O' Flaherty|
Also, I drove Msgr O’Flaherty with me to two Benedictine retreat houses, Valeyermo in the high desert near Palmdale and the Benedictine monastery just north of San Diego on a high mountain.
Once at Valeyermo,I served mass with Msgr. O. Flaherty.
Before mass began, one of the monks came in and put one of their robes on me and Msgr. said, “Now, Leo, doesn’t that feel good.”
It was kind of a“semi-joke.”
St Monica’s prayer group grew to be about 40 or 50 people who came every Friday night at 7 p.m.. Some of those who helped lead the prayer meeting were Linda Auer, Julie Moosbrugger, Nancy Sasseen, Don Bremberg and Ben Benson. Of course, there were others - a great group.
We had mass in the Church and then went to the St. Monica’s High School conference room for the prayer meeting.
We had a wonderful music group led by Bill Trompeter and Susie Cavanaugh.
They later made several albums. The leader of the meeting was rotated and there was wonderful songs, prayer and sharings. Many people – including myself – grew in the knowledge and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Benedictine Monastery - Valeyermo, Ca.
After the prayer meeting we had three class rooms to use to pray over people for personal prayer. The prayer team had about 10 people. There were many special healings that took place.
The same 10 people on the team would meet on Tuesday evening to pray and to study the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Also during the week, I and some friends would attend the Charismatic mass and prayer meeting at Loyola University in Los Angeles led by Father Ralph Tichner.
At St. Monica’s prayer meeting, a priest would visit some times. One priest that came was Father John O’Flaherty SJ., a cousin of our pastor Raymond O’Flaherty. Father John was about 60.
He came every week and joined our healing team and also attended our Tuesday meeting. One Tuesday, he mentioned that he was on the real team involved in the exorcism of a boy from St. Louis.
It was the same exorcism story used as the source for the movie “The Exorcist” made in 1973.
However, the movie portrayed a girl instead of a boy. Interestingly, one of the ladies who came to our prayer meeting was Mercedes McCambridge, the move actress. She was “the demon voice” in the movie.
She was a nice elderly lady and would join us for refreshments after some of the prayer meetings. There were some other movie people who would come some times to our prayer meeting or get togethers.
At our Tuesday meeting we asked Father John to tell us the story about the exorcism in St. Louis.
He did – in a very modest and “well it was just my job attitude.”
In summary, he said the child was not a girl but a boy about 13 who lived near St. Louis. It took place in 1949. He would be at school and his chair would swivel around without him doing anything and when at home the oven door would go up and down and bang. There were some other odd things too.
St. Michael the Archangel
His parents asked the Bishop to have the boy examined. He was and it was decided to do the exorcism service. A priest and his team came over, took the boy up stairs to his bed and read the exorcism prayers. The boy would some times scream strange words and get violent.
Father John said he was involved in the services and one time the boy jumped from the bed and hit one of the members of the team. After several weeks, there seemed to be no progress. Finally the boy was sent back East for a medical examination. Later, he came back to St. Louis.
During that time, the Alexian Brothers who ran a hospital in St. Louis were asked to pray for the boy. The head of the Alexians prayed for the intercession of Our Blessed Lady and promised if he was healed they would have a statue of our lady placed in the building.
Father John said they would perform the exorcism rite about once a week for several weeks when the boy came back to St. Louis. One evening when they did the rite, they did their normal questioning…what did you see or what did you hear….
Then one evening when they asked the question - the boy said: "I saw a man dressed in white with a sword and his name was Michael."
After further examination, the team declared the boy healed. Later a statue of our Blessed Lady was erected in the hospital.
It was a touching story and it gave our team great insight into the spiritual battlefield.
We asked Father John how did the boy get possessed and he said an Aunt had been into the occult. There were several other miracles and conversions linked to the healing of the boy, he said.
There were many miracles and blessings taking place at St. Monica’s Charismatic Prayer Meeting as they were of course at other Christian gatherings around the world.
One that strikes me is when a Korean woman and her husband and children came to the St. Monica’s Charismatic meeting. They sat in the back and before the meeting I went over and said hello.
The prayer meeting began and when the people began to Sing in Tongues (Glossalalia) they got up and walked out. I though, O’ well, Lord you have some thing else in mind.
About a year later, I got a telephone call from a lady and she said she was the Korean lady who visited our prayer meeting. She said she now was leading a charismatic prayer group at a Catholic Korean church.
Wow! I was surprised. But, I always remember a key spiritual saying: Don’t expect a miracle, expect a surprise.
She asked me if I would come and give a talk on the Power of the Holy Spirit and bring some of our people. I agreed.
We went to the Korean Catholic Church. I was surprised there were a couple of hundred people there and we had a team of about ten. The hymns were written in Korean.
I gave the talk on the power of the Holy Spirit and it was translated into Korean. It was about 9 in the evening and I thought we were done. But, the Lady asked if we would pray over some of the people. I said, Ok. Wow, all the people wanted to receive personal pray right there in the Church. So, we went to work.
Around 11 p.m., the pastor came in and we were still praying. He said I am sorry but I have to close the church. We said a final group prayer and called it a night…a holy night.
As the years went by at St. Monica’s many people grew in their faith in Jesus and the working of his Holy Spirit. I later became the leader of the St. Monica’s Prayer Group and became a board member of the SCRC (Southern Charismatic Renewal Communities), who put on the SCRC conference in Anaheim.
I thought about a vocation.
I went to Msgr Duval, the new pastor at St. Monica’s. He succeeded Msgr O’Flaherty who had retired. I said I was thinking about applying to become a deacon.
Msgr Duval point his finger at me in a nice way and said, “No, No, I know you Leo. You come back to me after you get married.’
I was not going with any one. So, I just took the answer as no.
I then ventured to Eagle Rock, Ca., near Los Angeles, to go for an interview with the Dominicans – my middle name is Dominic. I was about 35. It was a nice interview, but there were some things that did not fit with me. So, I dismissed the idea. Meanwhile, back to St. Monica’s Church.
Later my friend, Father Mark took me to meet Father Aloysius Ellacuria of the Claretian Fathers in Los Angeles. He was elderly and said to be a devout and holy priest.
I spoke with Father Aloysius and then said to him --- "A priest without priest clothing."
He put his head down to pray and reflected for a few minutes. Then he looked up to me and nodded his head and said, "Yes, a priest without priest clothing."
By the way Father Aloysius of the Claritians, who has since passed away, is up for canonization by the Catholic Church.
He was from Spain but spent most of his work in the American Southwest and Los Angeles.
My work at Reuters continued. I would interview corporate executives about their company operations and do stories that were sent overseas in German and Japanese and other languages. It was interesting work and a chance to meet a lot of different people, especially some in the entertainment world.
Of course, with my spiritual background, I always considered that and kept to myself the opinion I had about a person. Of course, to me the most important thing was to see if they spoke the truth and were honest. One lie or half-truth and I was then on the alert.
When I was in Philadelphia working at the Bulletin Newspaper my friend David Shear, about my age at the time, was an entertainment writer.
David loved movies and shows. He would often ask me to come along with him as he did a show review. It was okay. But, David was always excited. He read Variety and all the other movie publications. He seemed to know everything about actors and movies. I was more of a sports guy.
At that time, David said to me: “Leo, I am shooting a murder mystery story around Independence Hall in Philadelphia and I wondered if you could help me and be in some shoots.”
I told David, okay. So, he had a guy on a wagon roller with a camera and we did some takes. I had only a few word lines. I did chase the bad guy down the Independence Mall and into Independence hall. I could not find the bad buy. Later, I found out he was suppose to be hiding inside the Liberty Bell which was in the hall. Finally, the move finished and David and his friend went and edited.
Interestingly, a few years later David moved to Los Angeles to attend a Movie Director’s School. He lived in Santa Monica for awhile and he showed me the finished move from Philadelphia. It was pretty good.
So, Flash forward a few years.
So, I am at St. Monica’s and Bruce Kitchen an older friend, said to me, "Mary Williams, who worked with Father Kaiser on his television show, was doing a movie shoot near Redondo Beach. She needs some extras. Would you like to go?".
I had the time. So, I said okay.
I arrived at the area for the shoot. I was told to go over and see the make up girl. I did and she put some stuff on my face and then pulled out this lipstick. I said, “woooo!”
She said well you have to put it on. I said no, and walked away. I though ugh, make up! But, I also thought, she is a cute gal. We did the shoot with several other people and Mary Williams kept saying: Lets do it again. I said to her this is the last shoot and then I am going home. It was and I left.
I later asked Bruce who the make-up girl was and he said that is Beverly Owen. She is Gloria Owen’s daughter. I knew Gloria from just seeing her at some prayer meetings.
I went home and thought may be I will give Beverly a call and invite her out to get to get to know her.
I called and she said she was doing something for the weekend. I called some time later and got the same kind of reply – oh I am doing some things with my friends.
So, no go.
Then a short while later I was praying in the evening and in a period of silence. I felt the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth - come to me. Give her a call.
I said well, Lord, I have called her a couple of time and she is always busy.
Then the words came: “Give her a call for Me.”
I did and to my surprise she said okay we can go out and get something to eat.
We went out a few times. Beverly was also going with some other fellows.
She was about 27 and getting ready to leave home and go out on her own. She got a small apartment in Beverly Hills. She was at that point in here life where she wanted to do her thing.
So, our relationship was strictly friendship, although we had a common bond – Jesus and the Charismatic movement.
I did become friends with Bruce and also Gloria Owen, Beverly’s mother and of course lots of other people. The church needed some volunteers to take communion to the nursing homes so, I volunteered and interestingly my partner ended up being Gloria, Beverly’s mother.
Gloria was a typical Irish boss kind of a person. Hmm, I was also part Irish too.
Standing - Gloria Owen and Leo - At dinner party with movie people sitting -Don Fedderson, producer of TV show "My Three Sons"and wife Yvonne
We got along well visiting the people at the nursing home in Santa Monica, Ca.
Gloria related very well with the older ladies. I did better with the men.
Later Gloria and I became friends and she talked me into going partners on new condos going up in down town Ventura, Ca. She bought two of them and we went half-and-half on another.
Gloria’s husband had died young, in his 50s, while he was in San Francisco doing a consumer show. Besides Beverly, Gloria had her daughter April and young son John. She had lots of friends, especially in the church and also in the movie industry.
One day we met and she invited me over to her house near the Pacific Park in Santa Monica. It was on Georgiana Street. It was in the afternoon. Wow. She talked with me until 2 A.M. I went home exhausted. She was still going strong.
My time at St. Monica’s was wonderful meeting all kinds of great people. We would also go to Loyola University for the Wednesday charismatic mass and healing service.
Myself, Bruce Kitchen, Gloria and others traveled to the Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, New Mexico. It was a wonderful and spiritual time. We spent several days there.
We went again some time later and Beverly went with her girl friend.
While I was in Santa Monica, Father Mark Finan paid a visit. While he was there, we were visited by a gal who was a solo devout missionary who travel around the U.S.
We had a nice time together and spent some time in community prayer.
Before leaving she gave me a beautiful holy card of our Blessed Lady and the child Jesus.
It was so nice, I took it to a picture framer fellow on Wilshire Blvd to make a larger picture. When I went to see him, he had made it larger and put a wonderful frame around it. It has been in my house ever since.
However, after picking it up, I was driving home and this thought came out of no place...get a knife and cut it up....it was a bad spirit and I responded, "be gone you evil spirit and go to the feet of Jesus."
It was a "prayer of command" that father Finan had taught me. The bad spirit fled. Praise the Lord!
At one of the talks at the Pecos Monastery, the Priest had every one be quiet and to ask the Lord, “What do you call Me.”
After we broke for lunch, myself and Beverly and another priest had a conversation and shared the word we received.
Beverly said the Lord called her: “My Child.” The priest said the Lord called him: “My Shoulder” because he carried other peoples burdens.
The Lord said my name was “Soldier” because I fight for the Lord. I thought that was neat because when I was 8 years old I took the confirmation name of Roland, the great French knight who fought to protect King Charlemagne.
A few years later, my friend Sister Ann and a priest friend Father Andrew from the Pecos Monastery visited Santa Monica. Father Andrew stayed with me at my apartment. He and sister Ann gave some talks.
Interestingly, a year or so later, I received a call from the Pecos Monastery if a certain Benedictine priest from France could come and stay a few days. I said okay.
The priest came - I don't remember his name - he lived in a Benedictine monastery in Southern France. I brought him to St. Monica's to do morning mass during the week.
I introduced him to Msgr. Duval the pastor at St. Monica's church. Msgr. Duval was French-American and had lived in Canada, I believe. He took over after Msgr O'Flaherty retired.
Msgr. Duval ask my priest friend what he did at the Monastery. He humbly replied: "I am the abbott. The look on Msgr Duval's face lit up. He was surprised that a simple-looking priest was in charge of some 200 monks at a monestary. I ask the abbott how he became the abbott. He simply said, "They elected me."
Charismatic Conference in Kansas City.
I traveled with a group of charismatic friends from St. Monica’s to Kansas City to attend the charismatic conference.
|Sister Bernice - Leo in Kansas City|
It was wonderful. I roomed with Bruce Kitchen and Beverly’s mother Gloria roomed with Sister Ignatius who led the Charismatic prayer group meeting at the convent house in Brentwood, Ca.
While in Kansas City, Sister Bernice, who belonged to the St. Monica’s Prayer Group led us on a tour of her convent house near Kansas City (see picture) and we also saw Leavenworth Prison too.
She showed us the convent cemetery and turned to us and said some day I will be here. She is! – but also in heaven.
Philadelphia – Eucharistic Conference
The worldwide Eucharistic Congress was held in Philadelphia in 1976 and me and Father Mark and friends went. It was a special experience – especially for me, Father Mark and our friend from Chicago Joe Jagiello.
Some highlights – I had a chance to visit and stay with my folks in Northeast Philly. At the conference, I met a reporter from my old newspaper, the Philadelphia Bulletin. I did not know the fellow. However, he said to me I am here to cover this crazy meeting and hear these people make crazy sounds.
I told him I use to work for the Bulletin. I said you better be careful and know your facts and get the story right. Do you know what Glossalalia is? He said no. I said you better find out.
After one of the talks in Philly, I was walking with Father Mark and a few others and on the Street corner were these two fellows – I am pretty sure they were not Catholic – who were barking out things about the bible and why Catholics have it all wrong.
I went up to them and … ahhem ....blasted them – for not knowing certain things. We then walked away and about a block latter, I felt the Holy Spirit say to me go back and apologize to those fellows. I turned around and went back – but they were gone.
Things Get Scary
We went to the final event - Mass at the Philadelphia baseball stadium. It was packed - some 30,000 people -- and we were up in the bleachers. Everything was fine, I was sitting with a lot of friends. Next to me was Father Mark and next to him Joe Jagiello.
At the time, they were bringing up the bread for the Mass…I got hit with a thought that came out of no where – “Go run down that isle and jump off and people will know it is not "the bread of life," but the bread of death. It has all been poisoned.”
That really shook me up because it came out of no place. I started to reject the thought and turned to Father Mark and Joe Jagiello looked over and said are you all right Leo and I said no. How about you, Joe – he said no.
Joe got up, I got up and Father Mark got up and we went to the back of the upstair stands. Joe then said he got this thought run down the aisle and jump off and people would see it is not the bread of life but the bread of death.
Then he said the thought left him.
I said I got the exact same thought. Father Mark said, don’t worry fellows. We all held hands and prayed and peace came upon us. Wow. The spiritual battlefield.
Later, we returned to California and St. Monica’s. It was a great conference.
Pentecost Trip to Rome
Myself and several members of the St. Monica’s prayer group took a big trip to the Pentecost Charismatic conference held in the Vatican near Rome in the 1970s. We flew from Los Angeles to Niece, France – a long trip. Stayed in Nice for a day and then took a train down the coast to Rome.
The pope at that time was Pope Paul VI. We visited the Vatican and the neighborhood.
I went downstairs in the Vatican and spent time praying before the coffin of Pope John XXIII.
Leo at the Vatican -1975
My roommate was Bruce Kitchen again. We would also meet up with some of the ladies making the trip and went to diner and site seeing at the Spanish Steps and Fountain Trevy.
The mass on Pentecost 1975 was packed with about 50,000 in the Vatican. Pope Paul came in with flash lights going off. He did mass and spoke in about five languages.
We also attended conferences on the grounds above the catacombs.
It was noteworthy, that a speaker would speak in say Spanish and it would be translated immediately by some one in French. So, we did not understand. Then some one would speak in Italian and it would be translated in German…etc.
However, when we all stood up – several thousand – we sang and began to sing in Tongues—then the language barrier disappeared and we all felt as one. Very mystical.
During our tripe to Rome we also visited, Assisi, Pizza, and Florence.
My Father’s family – the Fascioccos – live in Abruzzi just east of Rome about 3 hours away. I did not get a chance to go there.
We went back to Niece, France, took a plane that landed in Shannon, Ireland, and then went on to Los Angeles. A long trip, but a wonderful experience.
There is Going to Be A Change in Your Life
In 1983, while living in Santa Monica, I was at prayer one evening and when I became quiet the word of the Lord came to me….”There is going to be a change in Your Life.”
I was at peace. I asked: what kind of a change.
There was no word or inspiration. I wrote it in my diary.
Over the next three months, or so, the word would come back – There is going to be a change in your life.
Then one day I came into the Reuters office LA for work and my associate Bob Ricci said to me I am leaving. I’ve been named head of Reuters Canada. I said that is great.
Later, I was told that they wanted me to take a promotion and go back to New York.
I was not interested in New York.
Because I belonged to the Guild they could not move us without our permission. Next I find out that instead of being promoted to head the LA office, they were bring in a non-Guild gal to be head of the office. She had way less experienced than me and was paid less – and she was going to be the boss. Ugh.
I prayed and then I realized what the Lord had said: “There is going to be a change in your life.”
Margaret Kline, head of Reuters North America, was always kind with me. She was Catholic and knew I was very involved with the Church. She said my career need to move on with Reuters.
Because she was making this personnel change, she was not allowed to do it according to Guild rules. There had been a Guild strike a few years before. I told her she should could not do this and she replied: “Well are you going to file a complaint?”
I had to make a change!
Three choices: Stay in Reuters LA, Go to Reuters N.Y. or look for another job.
I mentioned the situation to some people at the St. Monica’s Prayer meeting. One mentioned Ed Moosbrugger who worked for the local newspaper in Santa Monica. I spoke with Ed and he said a new newspaper is starting up near Santa Monica. It is going to be called Investors Daily.
To make a long-story short, I went and spoke with the new editor and to William O’Neil the new publisher. He had some floor traders on the N.Y. Stock Exchange and he was well known as a top trader.
I decided to join his paper as lead writer on the front page.
I went back to Reuters and asked for a big raise and to stay in LA. They declined. I gave my two weeks notice. I decided to leave Reuters after 12-years on an up beat.
Maggie Kline called me back and asked still if I was going to file a suit. I said no.
I then did an interview with the head of Walt Disney Co. wrote a great story and it ran on Reuters and around the world. I decided to leave on an up beat. I got some nice calls from other Reuters people who said great story and wished me well. It was published in Europe and Asia.
New Paper and New Life
I joined Investor’s Daily in 1984 and we began to set up the paper and get thing working right. Bill O’Neill was very good. He gave classes on the stock market and he accepted feed back on publishing. The paper began publishing and there was some of the press there when Bill pushed the button to start the presses. Everything ran smooth.
A few weeks later working at Investor’s Daily, I got a call that some Canadian mounties were at the Investor's Daily offices and they wanted to talk to me. They had their flashy red uniforms.
I went downs stairs and talked with them. They wanted me to come and testify to a bombing case in Canada.
A few months before when I was working with Reuters, I got a call from some guy who said he was calling from Canada and there was going to be a bombing. I asked for his name and where he was from…but he hung up. I reported it to Reuters N.Y. Later that day there was a bombing at a bank in Canada.
The Mounties told me they captured the people and they wanted me to testify to what the call was about and when it took place. I did. I went to downtown LA and appeared in a big court room and gave my account.
Working at Investor’s Daily was great, I was learning key things about the stock market. Bill O’Neil was a great mentor and wonderful to work with and learn. He was also open to my ideas.
The people I worked with at the paper were all nice and everyone was putting out to make the paper a success.
Romance and Marriage
While I was at Investor’s Daily, I met some very nice young ladies. Then someone else came into my life. Some one I met a long while back. Her name was: Beverly Owen.
We met and then started to go out to dinner and do things. However, I was not that interested in just going out. I thought she would make a great wife. The question, though,was she ready.
Leo and Beverly
We did some things together dinner, friends, shows etc. Then one evening when we went to dinner and dancing at a large hotel we sat down. She started to criticizes me about things. “Leo, you know what is wrong with your…..”
I wasn’t about to listen to that stuff. I said I am leaving right now and if you want a ride you can come.
I got up, paid the bill left, went downstairs and asked for my car. I did not expect to see her or go out with her any more.
The car pulled up, I got in, she came to the door and got in the car.
I drove her home and left her off and said it was nice knowing you good luck. Goodbye. This is not working out at all.
I drove home and figured that was the end of that.
I definitely was not going to be with some one criticizing me all the time, especially about little things. Ugh.
The next day I went to my office at Investors Daily. During the day, a big bunch of flowers were delivered to my desk. I thought what is this? Where did this come from?
I read the note it was from Beverly. She said, "My you sure have a temper."
I called her and thanked her and invited her to dinner. I still did not think the relationship was going any place.
However, as time went on we began to work better with one another. The key of course was our faith in God and Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit.
One evening at Anna Marries Italian Restaurant in Santa Monica near the park we had dinner and I gave Beverly a wooden plague. It said:
Extra – The Good
Extra – The Good News –Extra
Beverly, I love You
Will You Marry Me?
She took the plague.
Later She gave it to me and these word were added.
Extra – The Good News –Extra
Beverly, I love You
Will You Marry Me?
YES! YES! YES! YES!
I Love You
June 8, 1986
Beverly and I were married at St. Monica’s Church on November 16, 1986.
|Leo - Bev Wedding - St. Monica|
It was a fantastic and perfect wedding. The mass was concelebrated by Father Bill Adams, Msgr Raymond O’Flaherty and Father Mark Finan.
Bill Trompeter and Susie and the group handled the music wonderfully. My father and mother and brother John and friend Steve Thompson flew in from Philadelphia. Beverly had a lot of friends and relatives.
Father Bill Adams
My best man was Ben Benson, a group musician at our prayer meeting, Don Bauer and Don Bremberg. Beverly’s maid of honor was Julie Newman, a champion ice skater, and sister April Owen and cousin Dee Dee.
The mass went off perfect, the limo ride down Ocean Blvd was great and the reception was wonderful with everyone having a great time and dancing.
Some movie people like Fed MacMurry and June Haver were there.
After the wedding we flew to Hawaii for our Honeymoon.
We stayed at Molokai, Maui and Honolulu. We visited Father Damien’s church on Molokaiat the former leper colony and attended mass on the island.
Our Trip to the leper colony required us to take a mule ride down a steep cliff.
When we got down to the colony we took a break and Beverly discovered she had lost a ring.
One of guides saddled up and rode away. Unbelievably, he came back with the ring.
Then we had dinner and we invited him to come. He did and lo and behold our waitress was his sister...small island.
Beverly at Molokai - Airport
We returned to Los Angeles and began our new life – and ministry together.
Afterwards, we had to two children Michael and three years later, Gloriann. We lived in Santa Monica across the Street from St. Monica’s Church.
One day Gloria, Beverly's mother, stopped over with a girl friend. She introduced her to me. "Leo, this Joanne Dru."
I said, Hi, Joanne. Gloria said, "Leo, don't you know who Joanne is?"
I said, "uh, no."
She is a movie actress who worked with John Wayne. I said that's nice.
Big Earthquake and Move to Phoenix 1994
In 1994, there was a big 6.8 earthquake that wrecked St. Monica’s in the morning. The place where I normally sat in church was buried with rubble.
I was fortunate not to be there since the quake hit at 4:30 in the morning. My office in downtown Santa Monica was wrecked and half the building had collapsed.
Two days later, with the okay from Wes Mann at Investors Daily, I decided to make a change and move to New York.
Leo at Father Damien - Church
However, we got to Phoenix, (Mesa, Az.) and I was able to work a deal and send my stories in from Gilbert, Az.
I worked in Gilbert for a few years and did Money Show workshops in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle and Orlando, Fla.
I was also active in the churches at St. Timothy, St. Anne’s and St.Mary’s
Beverly was great doing teaching for young people going to make first communion and for confirmation. I gave some talks.
She did a lot of work at St. Anne's Church in Gilbert, Az.. She received an award from Phoenix Bishop Olmstead.
Our life in Arizona has been very good and we have been able to serve the Lord and raise our family.
|Phoenix Bishop Olmstead and Beverly|
I thank the Lord for his blessings and also for the prayers of our Blessed Lady and all the saints.
While in Santa Monica, I had the opportunity at separate times to have two Benedictine monks stay with me and both were abbots, one in Southern France, the other at Pecos, New Mexico.
I also had the opportunity to work with Msgr. Raymond O’Flaherty, long-time pastor at St. Monica’s, with whom I did many Latin Masses with and took to Benedictine monasteries in the California high desert and also at a monastery near Carlsbad, Ca.
I also worked with his cousin Jesuit John O’Flaherty, who was on the original team that handle the true story used in the original movie the exorcist. Also, there were wonderful people at St. Monica's prayer group, Linda Auer, Julie and Ed Moosbruger, Roger Meyer, Nancy Sassen, Eileen Libbey and so many others.
In Arizona, I had the opportunity to work with my friend Don Baur and we put on spiritual workshops at Mt. Claret Retreat Center in Scottsdale, Az.
They focused on prayer and the interior life. Don and his wife Rosalyn belong to a religious group started by John Michael Talbot, the well-know religious singer.
On my way back from one of the workshops I felt the Lord say how many people did you have. I said about 40. He said if you put up on the internet you could have 40,000.
So, I went home and went on the internet to get the website name Jesus Christ is Lord. The owner wanted $800. I then prayed and though...hmm ..how about Jesus Christ is the Lord. Wamo, it's yours for $30. Sold!
Our website with the workshops is at www.jesuschrististhelord.com
Your Family Members Do Pray for You
Finally a little sharing, my daughter Gloriann Fasciocco was graduating from High School in Gilbert, Az., and was applying for several college scholarships.
Lo and behold, she won a half scholarship from the Edna Neeley Foundation to go to Arizona State University.
I checked scholarships in the U.S. and there was not one scholarship with the name Edna.
Edna of course was my mother's name and she had passed away a few years before. (Picture is of my mother back in 1934)
It would seem the Lord Jesus was making his presence know through her intercession and prayer.
My mother had met Gloriann and Michael when she visited us in Gilbert, Az.
My mother also helped at her parish church, Our Lady of Mt. Calvary, and my father Leo sang in the choir.
Also, Beverly's mother Gloria Owen Sutherland, while at St. Monica's in California, took communion to the people in the nursing home.
She was active in prayer meetings in Santa Monica and Brentwood, Ca., too
Gloria also was on the board of Childhelp USA, which aided children. She was the chaplain leading them during their prayer time.
As my friend, Father Mark would say: "You will never out do God with your charity."
It is in giving that we receive.
Well, I hope this sharing will help you to grow in grace and holiness.
The End. God Bless.