Skip to comments.Father John Corapi: From Addict To Evangelist
Posted on 01/03/2002 3:30:10 PM PST by Lady In Blue
From Addict To Evangelist
I would go down Rodeo Drive in my new red Ferrari and people would turn their heads and say, 'That must be somebody.' My 2,000-square-foot bedroom was larger than most people's house.
|by Eric Retzlaff (Our Sunday Visitor)
ohn Corapi learned to love truth the hardway--by embracing falsehood.
Despite a 1950s Catholic elementary education, he swallowed a popular lie that could have killed him, and nearly did.
"At 14 or 15, I began to think I was the definitive interpreter of what was real," he told Our Sunday Visitor recently. "It was the attitude that you don't accept any authority outside yourself, so every individual becomes God."
Now a nationally known priest-preacher, he never tires of recalling for his audiences where that attitude led him.
All through his younger years he yearned "to be somebody," to stand out, to be noticed and admired. He got his wish, and more.
His quest led him to California during the real estate boom of the 1970s. In a few years, he became a millionaire.If "success is measured in dollars and cents," as he believed then, he had achieved "the American Dream."
"I was eating and drinking with the wealthy," said the small-town native. "I fell into fast-lane living, with fast women."
"I would go down Rodeo Drive in my new red Ferrari and people would turn their heads and say, 'That must be somebody.' My 2,000-square-foot bedroom was larger than most people's houses.
"But I was out of touch with reality. Reality is God."
How out of touch he was became apparent when an attractive young entertainer at a party introduced him to what she called her "best friend" --cocaine.
His American Dream disappeared literally up his nose as cocaine became a $10,000-a-week habit. Physically and psychologically devastated, he landed in a hospital, and for months, he said, "I didn't eat, speak or function normally. I was sick at heart because I had made it and lost it."
"I saw no way out, only absolute darkness. The only thing I wanted was death.
"I begged God to help me, but nothing happened, because I wasn't ready to give up sin," he said. The darkness lasted for three years.
After a failed comeback in real estate, he returned to his home in Hudson, N.Y. In his desperation, he began to pray the Rosary, and he turned his heart to God:
"I cried out to God, 'If you are real, and I don't know if you are, you need to rescue me now.'"
Then something happened. "I cried tears of very real repentance," said Father Corapi, who is now director of faith formation in the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif. "I fell into a deep peace, and my first real sleep in years."
Later, he made his first confession in nearly 20 years. "It seemed like the moral weight of the universe had come off me," said Father Corapi, who immediately began to feel called to the priesthood.
After a period of discernment, he was accepted into the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T.). He was ordained a priest by Pope John Paul II at St. Peter's Basilica and earned advanced degrees in Scripture and theology.
The society's founder, Father James Flanagan, felt Father Corapi was called by God to "apostolic preaching," a preaching that goes beyond evangelism to present the full doctrine of the faith.
Father Corapi sees the Blessed Mother's intercession behind his conversion and subsequent priestly work. And, today, his preaching is permeated with an urgency and intensity born of the agony he experienced and the grace he found.
"I am a no-nonsense preacher, straight to the point - it is a matter of life and death," he said. "I don't want people to go through what I went through."
"I know the slavery of sin and the liberation of grace. The truth will make you free. It's not love to allow your neighbor to skip and dance his way to perdition: misery in this life and the next."
"The damage of society's lies is everywhere apparent," he said. "I've seen 12 year-old runaways who became prostitutes and addicts, dead in garbage cans. That's what the devil wants --our kids abused and dead in garbage cans."
For Father Corapi, the way to true human liberation is clear "God sent His Son to reveal His desires to us," he said. "The one only authentic authoritative interpreter revelation is the Church. I learned the hard way that mother, the Church, is smarter than me."
Father Corapi refuses to water down the message suit Catholics who have developed what he calls "a worldly, permissive spirit" odds with Catholic doctrine and morality.
"When they're up to their neck in quicksand, should I put them in concrete?" he asked.
From 1993 until his 1995 appointment to the Sacramento diocese, he worked as an itinerant preacher in the United States and Central America. The three pillars of his preaching are the Eucharist, devotion to Mary and "uncompromising fidelity to the Holy Father and the magisterium."
And he believes his preaching gets results: "In every place I've preached, there's been overwhelming response --conversions take place. If you're honest, and you speak from the heart, people will respond to what you're saying. The full churches are the proof. People are hungering for the truth."
Typically, Father Corapi may spend between eight and 18 hours in the confessional after preaching.
People away from confession for decades are finding peace, he said. "My testimony is a powerful weapon. People aren't afraid of me. I don't have the ability to look down on anyone because of their sins."
Father Corapi estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 copies of his taped testimony have been disseminated, not to mention thousands of his other tapes. At one three-day mission in Santa Clara, Calif., alone, 2,000 tapes were sold.
He admits, however, that public speaking never has come naturally to him, and he would prefer a quiet, cloistered prayer life to preaching ("I'm a hermit at heart").
Describing himself as "a brutally shy" child, Father Corapi said, "I used to shiver in my seat, afraid the teacher would call on me." He said he's still "sick with nervousness" before he begins preaching.
Since his seminary days, Father Corapi also has been plagued by what he called "vicious migraine headaches," despite medical attention and prayers for healing.
These sometimes become so severe that he is forced to miss work, but "99 percent of the time" they do not occur during his preaching, said his religious order's administrative director, David Leatherby, who sees the headaches as "a cross" the priest is bearing.
These days, Father Corapi has been sticking closer to his home base in Sacramento, where his charge is to reach out with the fullness of the faith to 500,000 Catholics in a diocese that takes seven hours to cross by car --a mission, he admits, that is daunting.
The centerpiece of this catechesis is the preaching of a yearlong series titled "The Teaching of Jesus," based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Based on previous turnouts for Father Corapi's talks, the diocese reserved the largest space it had for the series, which were scheduled to start in January.
Where does he get the daily strength and energy he needs for his evangelistic mission? Referring to a view expressed by the renowned preacher, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Father Corapi replied simply, "Eucharistic prayer that's where the power comes from."
For more information on Father Corapi's ministry, contact him at P.O. Box 254848, Sacramento, CA 95865- 4848
I will..do you have a link?
Thanks...Have a Happy New Year (I can still say that...right?) :)