Mary my Mother
The Miracle of Radio Maria
“Radio Maria is a miracle that has amazed even the Holy See,” said its co-founder, Fr Livio Farzaga in an interview in 2008. Never did Fr Livio envisage that a small Catholic radio station, “unique and different from other Catholic Radio Stations”, with humble beginnings in a parish in Arcellasco d’Erba in the province of Como, Italy would be accessible in seventy-one countries spread over five continents and that it would all happen through prayer, providence and volunteers.
In 1985, Fr Livio Farzaga, a Scolipian priest felt a strong inner call to go to Medjugorje. He described his pilgrimage as “a fundamental experience and a change of life”. He told listeners on Radio Maria that before going on pilgrimage to the rural parish of Medjugorje, previously unknown to the world before 1981, he theoretically knew he had a Heavenly Mother called Mary, but in Medjugorje, he felt it with his heart. His experience stirred a desire in him to serve Our Lady.
The following year he returned on his second pilgrimage and on that trip, Fr. Livio got to know about a local radio station called ‘Radio Maria’ set up by Fr. Slavko Barbaric, a Franciscan priest in the parish, to transmit the weekly message of Our Lady. Much like other parish radio stations at that time, their programmes consisted of prayer and entertainment.
In 1986, Our Lady gave a message to the Visionary, Vicka in which she said “Proclaim conversion. Diffuse the message of the Queen of Peace, and give witness to them in love.” Fr Livio recalls in the interview how he felt “moved and motivated” by these words. In response to Our Lady’s message, a group connected with Medjugorje got together in 1987 and founded the association, Radio Maria, with Fr Livio Farzaga taking to the airways in a small shed at the bottom of the church’s bell tower. There the model of every Radio Maria station was founded. The President of the station would be a layperson, and all the directors would be priests “because the Church must ensure sound doctrine” he explained.
As listenership grew throughout Italy and stations opened in every province, Radio Maria had covered the country in three years. Foreign priests from around the world who were studying in Rome were hugely impressed, and on their return home, they approached their bishops to ask permission to bring Radio Maria to their provinces.
In 1999, Gabrielle Scarano, a volunteer and listener from Italy, came to Ireland animated by a real calling to establish a Radio Maria station here. A group met with her, and they prayed, believed and hoped that their applications for a licence would be granted. On two occasions they lost out to other applicants, but that didn’t dampen their aspirations of getting Our Lady heard over the airways no matter how long it was going to take.
In 2011, Fr Eamonn McCarthy who was ministering in the Diocese of Cloyne was approached by Gabrielle to see if he might be interested in taking on the role of Priest Director of the, as yet, non-existent Radio station. Fr Eamonn, though keen on the idea, was unable to accept her offer due to diocesan commitments at that time. The task providentially fell to his good friend - and a faithful friend to many - the Salesian priest, Fr. Michael Ross, whom he had also come to know well through their mutual love of the Legion of Mary and its saintly founder, the Servant of God, Frank Duff. The choice was an answer to prayer. Fr. Michael was well established as a priest, homilist and evangelist throughout the country, and he had multiple connections across a wide network of people.
It was he who, with those early faithful association members, spearheaded the enormous task of locating a premises and the pursuit of necessary legal and broadcasting requirements. The new Radio Maria Ireland Studio was fitted out with state-of-the-art equipment funded by the World Family of Radio Maria when it was launched in May 2015. The untimely death, however, of Fr Michael in October 2016 followed by that of Gabrielle some months later, proved a heavy blow to the initial growth. Fr. Michael did not realise how prophetic his words to Fr. Eamonn at the time of the launch would be: ‘you know, it is you who should be doing this, really!’
Fr Eamonn, a late vocation, had enjoyed a successful career after qualifying as an engineer from University College Cork in 1985. With few opportunities available at that time, he left his comfortable Cork home that he’d shared with his parents and five siblings in search of work and an opportunity to further his education. After a further six years of study in London, he graduated as a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and worked in the management of multi-million-pound city projects before he returned to Ireland and entered St Patrick’s College in Maynooth in 1993.
It was after Fr Eamonn’s first Holy Mass in his home parish of Ballinlough, Cork in 1998, that RTE’s journalist, Maureen Ní Shúilleabháin, who had heard him speak, passed the simple remark that she thought he had a great voice for radio – a comment that struck a chord at the time, especially his having been told in London when he joined a church choir that he could neither sing (nor dance!). That simple seed bore fruit, as opportunities over the years would arise to speak and get involved in radio which has providentially directed Fr. Eamonn’s path to the position of Radio Maria Priest Director today. If the Lord closes one door, He opens another.
Today Radio Maria Ireland has thousands of listeners both nationally and globally and is gently growing. Their ambition to reach nationwide parishes, families, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons and the workplace will largely depend on the kind assistance of volunteers and listener support. Radio Maria is non-commercial and not-for-profit. All offerings go entirely into the work of radio evangelisation. Currently, Radio Maria is fundraising to buy a car for its threefold mission of Prayer, Catechesis and Human Formation - to be a Catholic voice in every Irish home. Would you like to help in answering Our Blessed Lady’s call?
How can I listen? 1. Saorview - Digital TV, Channel 210. 2. Mobile App – download the FREE Radio Maria Ireland app. 3. Internet Streaming – click the listen tab on www.radiomaria.ie 4. Listen Live on Radio Maria – Ireland Facebook page. 5. Radio Feed via telephone – listen by calling +353 1 437 3277.
For Prayer Requests, Questions on Faith, Morality & Church Teaching, Suggestions, Music Requests: Contact by Phone: 01 412 3546. Text: 089 467 2000. Email: email@example.com Write: Unit 8, St. Anthony’s Business Park, Ballymount Road, Dublin D22 R7W2. Website: www.radiomaria.ie
How to help Radio Maria grow and be a Catholic voice in every home in Ireland?
Volunteers are needed in the following areas: Intercessory prayers, fundraising, programme presenters, office assistants, promotion and marketing events, studio and mobile studio volunteers.
Join in the joyful work of spreading the faith among your friends: Follow, Like, Share & Subscribe to Radio Maria on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram.
How can I donate? (All contributions go entirely into the work of evangelisation. Radio Maria is non-commercial and not for profit.)
By post: Radio Maria Ireland, Unit 8 St Anthony’s Business Park, Ballymount Road, Dublin 22 R7W2 or through an electronic transfer: Account name – Radio Maria (Ireland) CLG.
Sort Code: 90 00 33. Account number: 93688261.
IBAN: IE07 BOFI 9000 3393 6882 61. BIC: BOFIE2D
Patricia Keane is the author of the critically acclaimed book Journey Of Ten Thousand Smiles and is an inspirational speaker and witness to her inner healing in Medjugorje. She hosts a weekly programme, Health and Faith Matters on Radio Maria and blogs at www.journeyoftenthousandsmiles.org. She submits a monthly article for the Medjugorje Messenger and a bimonthly to Shalom Tidings.
She received two International Awards for her humanitarian work with the ethnically displaced families of Bosnia-Herzegovina through her tireless work the charity Rebuild for Bosnia.