March Meeting Summary: Rich and Janet Napoli
For our March meeting, speakers Rich and Janet Napoli shared the inspirational story of how they changed from casual church goers to devout and active leaders in their community. Rich and Janet grew up together in Queens, New York. Although they began to know each other better through their church, neither one had a strong understanding of the faith. Richard, though a regular at Sunday mass, was an atheist. Also, Janet saw her faith as beginning and ending with attending church. “I didn’t realize there was more than that,” she said. Despite this, Rich and Janet were married in the church in 1981, and proceeded to grow their family.
Eight years later, in 1989, Rich began to think about the question of what it would take for him to believe in God. He decided that it would have to be a very specific act, ie, a front page article in the New York Times (his “Bible” at the time) about how an asteroid barely missed the earth. Also, he decided that this would have to happen 3 days later. Sure enough, 3 days later, the exact article was on the front page. Although this didn’t make him an instant believer, Rich did concede that he could not absolutely say that there is not a God.
Years later, in 1999, Janet needed to undergo surgery to remove half a lung (the other half had been removed when she was 19 due to cystic fibrosis). Before entering the operation room, she prayed, “Lord, if this is it, this is it. If not, though, I’d like to get to know you better.” After she woke up, she became determined to learn more about her faith. However, with no one teach her or turn to for advice, Janet felt lost. Three months later, her prayers were answered when her priest made an announcement about a new Catholic radio station, Holy Spirit Radio 1570 AM. After mass, Janet went home and immediately tuned on the station. “It was like I could breathe for the first time,” she said.
As Janet’s faith grew, Rich was still struggling with his own. Although he was alarmed at first by Janet’s new passion, he realized how it was changing her for the better. “Janet was always a good person, but she had become more patient and peaceful,” he said. “She was living in the moment.” To Janet’s surprise, Rich agreed to attend a fundraiser for Holy Spirit Radio. At the event, Rich had never seen so many faith-filled people. “They were all just like Janet,” he said. Suddenly, Rich had an image in his head of walking up a dark mountain to a log cabin. Everyone inside was happy and warm, and he was on the outside looking in. “Lord, I want to come in,” Rich said to himself. After his revelation, Rich asked God for 2 more signs, both of which showed up on the front page of the New York Times again. After years of doubt, Rich had finally become a believer. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Janet’s prayers,” he said. “She helped me get this far.”
Today, Rich and Janet are very active leaders in the church. Janet is now a co-host for 2 shows for Holy Spirit Radio, and Rich is an ordained Deacon in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Since their renewal of faith, they have also made sure to impart their passion onto their three children, all of which have said their own “yes” to God. “It’s so beautiful to sit in the pews and see how much God has given us,” said Janet with a smile. “People ask for so little from God, but He wants to give us so much.”