He was the consummate bad boy, always doing his best to get into as much trouble as he possibly could. Junior year was the worst. While he had always made life miserable for his poor teachers, he especially loved disrupting the morality classes taught by Fr. Larry Richards, now host of EWTN’s “Be a Man.” Unfortunately, his disruptions in class weren’t the half of it. He also caused trouble outside of the classroom. At age 17, he had a life-changing moment, when he thought he got a girl pregnant.
“On the outside, I looked like a jerk,” he said. “Inside, I felt bad. I wanted to change.”
How does the worst kid in school end up giving his heart to Christ and starting an apostolate devoted to helping young people like himself discover how to deal with the hard issues that often are the root cause of such behavior? Discover how Justin now uses his deep understanding of youth to bring them to Christ in EWTN’s new series, “You’re Amazing With Justin Fatica.” Go on the road as Fatica journeys to venues across the country touching lives.
EWTN will air a 90-minute live show with Fatica and Producer Jeremy Rivera at 7 p.m. ET, Thursday, Aug. 27 that can only be seen online at www.youtube.com/ewtn and www.ewtn.com/amazing. Viewers are invited to send questions to Fatica at firstname.lastname@example.org. The preview will be followed by Episode 1 of the new series at 8:30 p.m. ET on these same online sites.
The show will then settle into its regular time slot at 10 p.m. ET, Thursdays, beginning Sept. 3, on EWTN television.
What finally changed this former bad boy’s heart? As Justin was grappling with his shame over having premarital sex and the fear of getting a girl pregnant (it turned out the girl did not become pregnant), Fr. Larry Richards was having his own battle with the Lord.
Says Justin: “When he tells his side of the story, Father always says he was doing his holy hour when God told him to ask me to attend a Eucharistic retreat he was leading. He says he took a newspaper into adoration. Every time God told him to ask me to attend the retreat, he’d start reading the newspaper. Finally, he said to God, ‘I can’t spend 40 minutes with him, let alone a whole weekend!’”
Fortunately, Fr. Richards eventually gave in and did as the Lord commanded. That changed the course of Fatica’s life and led to lifelong friendship with his former nemesis. It was during that retreat that Fatica confessed all of his sins for the first time. (“In the past, priests would say, ‘Is that everything?’ But there were always a few sins I wasn’t ready to confess.”) In addition to making his first good confession, this retreat marked the first time that the young boy really prayed.
“I was at adoration one night. A few people were sleeping, but others were really engaged in worshiping. For the first time ever, I prayed from my heart. I looked at Jesus and said, ‘I’ll give you everything.’ My dad always said, don’t say it if you’re not going to do it..’ So I knew what this commitment meant.”
Fatica went back to high school a changed teen. Instead of working against Fr. Larry, he began to help him. He started attending daily Mass and bringing as many of his peers with him as possible. Some days, he packed the chapel. He and Father Larry also started a Wednesday night prayer group. Fatica would ask attendees: “What do you thank God for? What do you want to pray for?” The group would then go out for pizza afterwards.
After graduation, Fatica went on to get both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from New Jersey’s Seton Hall University. He also started a ministry with a few friends called the 12 Apostles Program, which not only helped young people understand how to have a relationship with Jesus, but how to explain their faith to others.
At age 22, Fatica launched the apostolate he leads today: “’Hard as Nails’ is all about living for Christ,” he says.
Fatica’s messages, which you will hear in his new EWTN series, are empowering:
Fatica wants his audience to know that “being broken isn’t some type of disease. We all need healing daily from Christ. I know I need it every day, not just once when I was a 17-year-old kid and first experienced the healing power of Jesus.” He wants people to know that bringing the Gospel to others isn’t complicated; that there is an urgency to this mission of saving souls; and that all of us have the authority we need to evangelize. “The authority is not in MY message, but in Christ’s message and the Church’s message. I hope they’ll see that there is power in being a witness.”
Fatica especially likes to tell people whose lives are a mess: “Make your mess your message! A lot of people think their mess is the worst thing that ever happened to them, but it can be transformed into a powerful message to change the world. Jesus’ death was a tragedy but that led to the resurrection.”
Because of Jesus Christ, this man is now amazing – and Fatica’s hope and prayer is that we will all come to know how amazing we are in Christ. Don’t miss his powerful series, “You’re Amazing With Justin Fatica” both online and in its regular spot on EWTN television at 10 p.m. ET, Thursdays beginning Sept. 3 on EWTN, www.ewtn.com/channelfinder.)