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The CHNetwork Family Remembers Al Kresta

June 19, 2024 No Comments

As tributes pour in for the late Al Kresta, founder of Ave Maria Radio and host of Kresta in the Afternoon, the Coming Home Network family remembers him in a special way, because of his identification with CHNetwork’s core mission of working with and sharing the stories of Protestant clergy who are seeking a home in the Catholic Church.

Raised Catholic, Kresta left the faith of his youth as a young man in the 1960’s. As he told CHNetwork in a 2019 interview, “My parents’ generation had extolled the virtues of wine, women, and song. And my generation didn’t mind that; but we preferred drugs, sex, and rock and roll.”

In the Spring of 1969, Kresta had a series of what he called “pseudo-mystical” experiences while using LSD. Beyond the recreational highs he’d been accustomed to seeking, he began to sense a supernatural reality that existed but was somehow inaccessible to him. During the last of these experiences, in May of that year, he felt a presence that he would later describe as Marian, and that caused him to take a fresh look at the world of faith and spirituality he’d abandoned.

Kresta’s search took him into conversations with New Age thinkers, and he regained an appreciation for Jesus, but only saw Christ as one enlightened teacher among many “ascended masters.” It wasn’t until his time at Michigan State University that he began reading the Bible on his own for the first time, and the picture of Jesus that began to emerge from the Gospels stood in sharp contrast to Al’s concept of Him as a mere sage. Al found himself bewildered, and unsure of what to do next.

One day, while walking down Grand River Ave toward the center of town, he met a man handing out Christian tracts. He took one, and was struck by the first line of it: “Do you want to know why some people have trouble understanding the Bible?” It was as though God was speaking directly to the question in his heart. As Kresta put it, that was the day that he went “from believing in the Jesus of the New Age, to believing in the Jesus of the New Testament.”

Kresta spent the next eighteen years in various capacities of Evangelical ministry, serving for five of those years as a pastor. But questions that arose about authority, the interpretation of Scripture, and a host of other issues eventually led him back to the Catholic Faith he’d walked away from decades before, and he returned to full communion with the Church in 1992.

However, as a former Protestant pastor becoming Catholic, he faced many of the issues that are common to clergy seeking a home in the Church, such as difficulty explaining the decision to leave Protestant ministry, experiencing the reality of being a member of a congregation rather than a leader of one, and wondering how to use the gifts and talents of a Protestant ministry background in a Catholic context.

Al shared his experience of journeying from cradle Catholicism through agnosticism, the New Age, and Evangelical ministry back to the Catholic Faith on CHNetwork’s flagship program, The Journey Home, which airs on EWTN television and radio and for many years was hosted by Marcus Grodi, who had also been a Protestant pastor before entering the Catholic Church. Al appeared on the show in 2004 and 2007, and also joined the program in 2017 for the show’s 20th anniversary special. He also appeared as a guest on Marcus Grodi’s radio program, Deep in Scripture.

In the weeks since Kresta’s initial diagnosis, the radio show that bears his name has continued, with Marcus Peter of Ave Maria Radio filling in as host. Peter, who was a guest on The Journey Home in 2021, shares a number of things in common with Kresta; he too went from cradle Catholic to unbeliever to born-again Christian and Protestant preacher before returning to the Catholic Faith. As such, he identifies with Al’s journey in a special way. “He and I shared such similar journeys, albeit in different ways. Having his influence was invaluable to me,” said Peter.

Peter also noted that Kresta’s mentorship helped him, as a convert with Protestant leadership experience, to see the world through a more thoroughly Catholic lens: “He challenged me to expand my capacities. I used to focus only on preaching the truths of Scripture for the salvation of souls. Al showed me how applying those same truths to history, art, politics, science, and current events had an equally powerful salvific effect in the lives of Christians.”

Please join the Coming Home Network in giving thanks for the extraordinary life and witness of Al Kresta, and praying for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace.


The following is a video testimony that Al recorded for CHNetwork’s Signposts series in 2019:

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