By Paul McMullen
Mark Viviano, WJZ Ch. 13 sports anchor and a parishioner of St. Casimir, Canton, discusses his faith with the Catholic Review.
CR: Where are your roots?
VIVIANO: My mother (Polish) and father (Italian) are second-generation Americans whose immigrant grandparents were devoted to their faith traditions, ones our family has continued in the U.S. for 100 years.
Growing up in St. Louis, my parents made our faith a priority, with Sunday Mass, family prayer and rosary, Catholic education and community service. My older brother, Tony, is a pastor in the Diocese of Jefferson City in Missouri. We joke that I’m a “celebrity” because I’m on TV, while we all know that Father Tony is beyond celebrity for his service to God and the church.
My wife, Megan, was baptized Episcopal and is in our parish RCIA program. She was drawn to the Catholic Church in her interaction with me and my family – as well as other friends and families.
CR: Why attend daily Mass?
VIVIANO: My father goes to Mass daily, and I am aware of his instruction, “Stay close to Our Lord.” When class at the University of Missouri allowed, I found comfort in morning or noon Mass. Because I work the evening and nightly news, I generally have the earlier part of the day open, which is conducive to noon Mass. It’s a wonderful way to refresh our faith.
CR: Why pull back from radio?
VIVIANO: I worked two full-time jobs for six years: mid-day radio and evening sports at WJZ, leaving home at 8 a.m. and returning around 12:30 a.m. I took great satisfaction in rising to that challenge, but one morning, stuck in traffic and sensing apprehension, I felt what I describe as a hand pushing on my chest. Panic attack? Heart attack? I had a strong sense that God was telling me to slow down. The next day, I quit the radio show, and felt that I had lifted a great, self-imposed weight off my shoulders.
With more free time I attended daily Mass and opened my heart and mind. It was in that time that I met Megan, who, like me, is a marathon runner. We began to run together, competed together, fell in love and were married. Now we have a son. None of that would have happened had I not sensed the hand of Our Lord urging me to slow down.
CR: How did life change with the birth of your son Nov. 13?
VIVIANO: I now truly live for someone else. I first felt that when marrying Megan; now I feel it with our son. I feel that I exist to love and support them. I am blissfully less concerned about myself and I live for my wife and child.
CR: Who is your favorite saint?
VIVIANO: When I was a boy, my grandmother gave me a statue of St. Michael the Archangel. He represents strength in the fight for good against evil. I took Michael as my confirmation name. Now, Michael is the name of our son.