You are never alone. In your brokenness, sorrows and frustrations, Jesus wants to say to you, “I am here." The I AM HERE podcast is a space to be inspired by stories of men and women who have found in the Eucharist the strength and purpose for their lives.
“The only place I could go where I fully felt seen and understood was with the blessed sacrament” | Anna Picasso
Despite growing up in a faithfully Catholic family, Anna grew away from the faith of her childhood by the time she was a junior in high school. It wasn’t until she was providentially studying at a Catholic college and had the opportunity to study in Rome that she encountered a divine intimacy that finally helped her know that she was seen and known in an authentic way. In this episode, she shares about the impact of beauty, the sacrament of Confession, and Jesus’ presence in the Blessed sacrament have had on her, and what that impact has led her to today.
(00:31) Fr. Mario and Leah welcome guest, Anna Picasso, Outreach Coordinator at Detroit Catholic Campus Ministry and parishioner at St. Aloysius in Detroit. The three discuss how Anna first came to Detroit as a FOCUS missionary and some of the fruits of the Archdiocesan campus ministry program she is now on staff with.
(03:41) Anna talks about her faith growing up and how she fell away from it in high school. She shares about going to college at University of Mary in Bismarck, ND and the opportunity she had to study abroad in Rome, and begins to unpack the impact that experience had on her faith in Jesus.
(07:42) Anna shares about a particularly impactful experience when she received the Sacrament of Reconciliation during her time abroad and describes how that stirred up in her heart a childlike hunger to know Jesus and seek him out more fervently in the Eucharist.
(11:56) She goes on to discuss how her relationship with Jesus that began to develop in Rome led her to seek out new relationships upon her return and shares how participating in a women’s Bible study helped her to continue to grow in her relationship with him. She talks about how that ultimately led her to consider applying to FOCUS as a Catholic missionary to college students.
(16:24) Anna shares some of her discernment process regarding FOCUS missions and how it has led her to the work that she does now in Detroit Catholic Campus Ministry. She shares about the privilege it is to serve in this way and how her work has affected her own relationship with Jesus and God the Father.
(23:08) Anna talks about how she spends time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in her day-to-day life and how she depends on him to remain faithful to her ministry and Fr. Mario offers her encouragement in the work that she does in campus ministry.
“The Lord uses imperfect vessels” | Fr. Mario Amore
Fr. Mario Amore was raised Catholic but resisted going to Mass in rather dramatic ways as a child. As he became more involved in the Church over time, he felt his heart shift and began to discern a call to the priesthood. In this episode of I AM HERE, he recounts his winding journey from childhood aversion to Mass to seminary and the priesthood and shares the ways that intentional time in prayer and adoration have become deeply impactful in his work and his personal life.
(1:16) Fr. Amore discusses his initial hesitance to share his story of how God has worked in his life on the podcast.
(2:53) Fr. Amore shares how his childhood and his family informed his faith and recounts how he resisted going to Mass as a child.
(7:53) He talks about his experience in Catholic school, how he eventually found his place at church in the children’s choir and altar serving, and how he flourished in religion class.
(10:40) Leah asks about how his “heart relationship” with Jesus grew, and he said that he had more head knowledge than encounters with Jesus until he got more deeply involved with church.
(13:35) He describes his first adoration experience and the peace and serenity he experienced, as well as the youth conferences that deepened his faith.
(19:12) He shares his original career aspirations and initial desire to work in a lay music ministry capacity. He says that he applied to seminary, was accepted, but got cold feet and backed out before reapplying two years later.
(24:40) He describes the adoration experience at a silent retreat in his third year of seminary that deepened his relationship with Jesus.
(30:14) He discusses difficulties he experienced in the seminary when fellow seminarians felt the call to other vocations and how that made him consider if priesthood was truly what God wanted for him.
(32:40) He talks about being mindful of what the Lord is doing through him as an imperfect vessel when he feels moments of doubt.
(34:00) He says that he has to be mindful of separating his work for the church from how God is working on him. He also describes his time in adoration and says that he avoids distractions and tries to sit, be attentive, and bring whatever needs to come to the Lord on that day.
"When I feel broken, I know that's the only place I can go." | Shelly Propson Tyshka
Despite growing up Catholic, it was a series of events in adulthood that led Shelly to truly see the power of the Eucharist in her life. Listen as she describes how her father’s life-altering accident, a key decision to stay in the faith when her husband chose to leave it, and struggles with infertility all worked to deepen her relationship with Jesus, her need for the Eucharist, and her embrace of the cross of suffering.
(00:30) Meet Shelly Propson Tyshka, a member of the St. John Fisher University Parish and former attorney, who runs an art studio for people living with disabilities. Hear how her father inspired this work after a catastrophic accident and miraculous recovery. She describes how she was born and raised Catholic with an emphasis on Jesus but that there wasn’t a strong emphasis on Catholicism itself in her house.
(3:33) Shelly discusses how her husband decided to leave Catholicism, which led her to make the critical decision to stay. Fr. Mario discusses how when we look back at moments where we make a critical decision we see how the Lord is always present and moving us closer to Him.
(5:36) Shelly describes how Catholic radio and her son’s strong interest in the Divine Mercy image led her to more research into the saints and the writings of Pope John Paul II.
(7:00) Shelly shares how an experience with the Eucharist during her struggles with infertility helped her to know that God had not forgotten her. She says that this experience also helped her recognize the importance of adoration when there is no other place to go.
(12:20) Fr. Mario discusses how Jesus did not come to make everything right with the world, but his healing presence of love shows us that he’s with us in those moments.
(13:22) Shelly shares about how honest she is with Jesus in adoration, how she spends that time, and her advice for going to adoration whenever you can.
(18:19) Shelly gives advice to embrace the cross of suffering and to offer it up to bring good out of it. She describes how her dad did so after his accident.
“Don't have minimal expectations; just expect everything to happen.” | Jason Smith
In his mid-thirties, Jason experienced Eucharistic adoration for the first time and his life hasn’t been the same ever since. In this episode, hear how spending time before the Lord helped Jason to grow in devotion and reverence for Jesus. He also shares how he cultivates faith within his three sons and why he prioritizes time with the Blessed Sacrament in his daily life.
(00:52) Our co-hosts welcome Jason Smith, St. Scholastica parishioner and father to three boys. He shares a bit about his upbringing in the faith and how he grew up in and around the St. Scholastica community.
(05:26) Jason describes how he ended up attending a Faith in the Fire retreat in his mid-thirties and shared a bit about how this retreat impacted him. He shares how, on this retreat, he experienced adoration for the first time and shares what that was like.
(10:09) He talks about how, before going on the retreat, he was told the retreat would change his life and how he approached it with an attitude of “what have I got to lose?” He shares more about what took place on the retreat and how it did, in fact, change his life.
(13:12) Jason shares how, following his experience of adoration on this retreat, he began to find more meaning in his practice of the faith. He shares how his experience in adoration helped him grow in reverence for the Eucharist during the celebration of the Mass.
(17:54) Fr. Mario comments on how we can look back and see the ways God has worked in our lives, even if we don’t realize he is working in the moment.
(18:44) Jason shares how his involvement with a men’s group began to affect him. He shares the impact of spending his Saturdays in the small group, Mass, and adoration. He talks about how during this season of his life, the Lord was able to work on him and how the support of his community helped him to grow.
(23:25) He shares how he encourages his sons to pursue the faith, primarily by his example. Our co-hosts and Jason discuss how children can grow in the faith over time, and the importance of planting seeds, even when they don’t fully understand every aspect of the faith.
(28:23) Jason talks about the different ways he experiences Jesus in adoration, whether it’s in moments of desolation, or he senses Jesus’ direct response to his prayers. He offers encouragement to listeners, to fight for time before the Lord, emphasizing how time spent with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament can be life changing.
"It was an overwhelming peace. It was overwhelming love. And I sat there for hours."| Shannon Pryce
Growing up without an introduction to the Eucharist in her home, Shannon somewhat unexpectedly made her way into the Catholic church by way of her aunt who required her to go to Mass with her while she spent a summer visiting. Listen as she describes her introduction to Jesus in the Protestant faith and her desire for the Eucharist she felt in the Catholic Mass. And hear about her journey into deeper intimacy with Him by entering the Church, receiving Communion, and encountering Him in the Eucharistic adoration.
(00:43) Meet Shannon Pryce, a wife, mother, and grandmother, Detroit Tigers fan, and staff member and parishioner at St. Linus in Dearborn Heights. She shares about her upbringing, having been raised by a single mother and no introduction to the faith in her home. She describes her introduction to Christianity which came from a friend’s mom inviting her to go to church.
(04:11) Shannon shares how she embraced a Protestant Christian faith from a young age, developing a great love for Jesus and describes how her aunt introduced her to the Catholic faith during a summer she spent visiting her.
(05:11) Fr. Mario comments on the power of invitation, highlighting her friend’s mom who invited her to church, and comments on the gift of other Christian denominations.
(08:31) Shannon shares what drew her into the Catholic faith as a young adult, having mostly experienced church in the Protestant tradition prior to then. She talks about the desire to receive Communion that she experienced during Mass. She also shares how meeting her husband (who is Catholic) and his family helped her gain a better understanding of the Church’s teachings.
(12:58) She describes her experience at the Easter Vigil and shares the impact of her first experience in Eucharistic adoration. She talks about the way her love for adoration continued to develop.
(18:39) Shannon shares how her experience in adoration has impacted her experience in receiving Jesus in the Eucharist at Mass.
(20:10) She shares what she does during her time in Eucharistic adoration, sharing how the time she spends with Jesus there fills her up.
(22:00) Shannon unpacks how her relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist has strengthened her faith, especially having come from a Protestant upbringing. She also shares what it is like to share this gift of the Eucharist with the young people she works with at St. Linus.
"This is not about Jesus. This is Jesus." | Anthony Feola
Anthony Feola’s life changed dramatically in high school when a friend boldly proclaimed the Gospel to him. On this episode, hear how that interaction led him to pursuing a life of evangelization and mission in the Protestant faith through much of his young adulthood, but listen to him describe the stirring in his heart he experienced, drawing him to the Catholic faith. Anthony shares what it was like to come to this place of conversion, while being very involved in a Protestant church, and what it meant to walk away from everything that had become so familiar to him and his family, to draw near to Jesus in the Eucharist.
(00:42) Fr. Mario and Leah welcome Anthony Feola to the podcast, Associate Director of Discipleship Formation for the Archdiocese of Detroit, husband of almost 23 years, and father to five children. He shares a little bit about his family and what his faith life was like growing up, focusing especially on his experiences in high school and young adulthood.
(03:59) Anthony describes how, despite being baptized Catholic, his faith life waned following his parents’ divorce. He shares how the bold witness of a Protestant friend of his had a profound impact on him in high school and how this experience inspired him to pursue a life of holiness and evangelization, with prayer and devotion becoming the main priority of his life, and a deep hunger for the Holy Spirit.
(09:38) He shares how the Holy Spirit thrust him into a life of evangelization. He shares about attending a Bible school in Sweden where he met his wife, and living a life of radical mission with his wife and family. He shares how a discernment process to do family mission in Turkey stirred up in his heart the inspiration to return home to the Catholic faith.
(18:03) Anthony describes his experience of returning to the parish of his Baptism, attending Mass regularly, and describes how he slowly began to recognize the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. He also notes how reading the Catechism helped him to understand more clearly the Church’s teachings.
(22:31) He shares a particular experience during the consecration where his eyes were opened and the Scriptures he had come to know so well all came to mind, convicting him of Jesus’ real presence in the sacrament taking place before him.
(24:27) Anthony shares how difficult it was to navigate this conversion he was having, as he and his family were deeply involved in the Protestant church they were a part of, and in many ways, he was feeling called to leave behind much of their lives to follow Jesus who had revealed himself in the Eucharist. He also mentions how challenging it was to navigate in his marriage.
(27:42) He describes an interaction with a leader from his Protestant church who was not supportive of the decision that Anthony had come to, to leave everything behind to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. He shares how difficult that was, and how Jesus met him in that.
(30:06) Anthony describes some of his favorite practices in Eucharistic adoration, and why he loves spending time in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
These are such inspiring stories! Thank you!