THIS IS A LETTER YOU CAN TAKE TO YOUR
Please allow me to present to you this letter of introduction from myself and one from my bishop, before you delve into this package on evangelization. Realizing the time pressure that you, as a priest, are under, I apologize for the length of the material, but it is of the utmost importance. The National Council of Catholic Bishops announced a few years ago that attendance at Mass by Catholics has dropped from 80% down to an average of 27%. With that and the Holy Father's call to evangelization in mind, my wife, Mary, and I have responded with our lives.
When we read Cardinal Ratzinger's paper New Evangelization, we could not help but respond with our lives. He states, "The deepest poverty is the inability of joy, the tediousness of a life considered absurd and contradictory. This poverty is widespread today, in very different forms in the materially rich as well as the poor countries. The inability of joy presupposes the inability to love, produces jealousy, avarice - all defects that devastate the life of individuals and of the world. This is why we are in need of a new evangelization - if the art of living remains an unknown, nothing else works. But this art is not an object of science - this art can only be communicated by [one] who has life - he who is the gospel personified."
My wife, Mary, and I have changed from never going to church to an attempt to live the Gospels. We have sold much of what we had, picked up our cross and are trying to follow Jesus. We are daily communicants and have progressed along the path of prayer, fasting and tithing. Our mission has rebuilt churches in war zones and is presently operating an orphanage, Catholic school and a convent in Africa. We raise food on our farm for the poor and are very active in Catholic publishing. Evangelizing church to church all over the world is what takes most of our time. We have given over a thousand seminars, parish missions and retreats. This gospel-based life is so powerful that it calls us to reach out even more. We want to bring more of the above-mentioned joy and increased participation to your parish. Our track record to date has, at times, caused daily mass attendance to rise tenfold and has helped increase the weekly collections, so parishes can experience more fully the joy of sharing. It is when a parish reaches out with a greater faith that it begins to grow. The joy becomes so great that even vocations start to flourish.
The purpose of this letter is to see if you would open the door to our evangelization and allow us to work with you on fanning into flames the conversions you have already started. It is our prayer that your door will not be slammed shut, but kicked down to allow the Holy Spirit in, as Pope John Paul II profoundly put it.
Please take time to peruse this information and let us know if you would entertain the idea of our coming to your parish for one to four nights of evangelizing. We are profoundly grateful for your priesthood and would be very blessed if we could become a team.
May God bless you in your decision,
Founder, Gospa Missions
More About Gospa Missions
Gospa Missions is a federally recognized nonprofit humanitarian foundation. Gospa is the term for Our Lady in the six republics of former Yugoslavia, which formed much of the culture of northeastern United States. We exist to evangelize and help others through financial aid and hard work.
Gospa Missions has built an orphanage, school and convent in Ogoja, Nigeria, Africa. When resources are available, we supply computers to African priests who are students at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA. This equipment aids them in their studies and is sent home with them to aid their diocesan work.
Gospa Missions has helped restore some of the damage in former Yugoslavia caused by the war. Our $50,000 donation to the bishop of Dubrovnik, Croatia, helped restore Saint Anne Church, which would have been demolished if it were not for the contribution. Several other churches, such as Saints Peter and Paul Church in Mostar, Bosnia, received substantial assistance for their restoration efforts as well.
We operate two religious stores: one in Evans City, PA and one on the Internet (www.catholicbookstore.org). The stores operate under the name Amazing Grace and help fund some of our charitable operations. The Evans City store is a first class facility owned by Gospa Missions and is an asset to the community. The three-story Main Street headquarters building consists of the store, warehousing, offices and upstairs apartments. We publish a monthly newsletter that is mainstream Catholic and includes a religious goods supplement, which adds volume to our mail order business.
Gospa Missions publishes Thomas Rutkoski's four books, Apostles of the Last Days, Miracles and How to Work Them, The Great Divide and The Scriptural Rosary. He has had several video and audio tapes. Mary Rutkoski has one very humorous audio tape, Survivor of Spousal Conversion. Thomas and Mary have traveled extensively, all over the world, speaking and sharing what God has done in their lives. Thomas has given over one thousand presentations internationally.
On the local front, another former endeavor was the Ravens Project. The mission raised vegetables on the Rutkoski farm and stored them until time for distribution in an underground facility that the mission constructed there. This ecumenical project aided the Butler and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area food pantries, which had suffered from government and local cutbacks.
Our most creative way of evangelizing is The Chocolate Rosary. Gospa Missions and Pittsburgh's famous Betsy Ann Chocolates have created a unique fundraiser especially suited to Catholic organizations. The package contains a one-decade rosary made of the finest chocolate, a beautiful (actual) rosary imported from Italy and a full-color pamphlet on how to pray the Rosary. This fundraiser addresses the sweet tooth as well as the soul, so we call it The Sweetest Way to Pray. The Chocolate Rosary is proving to be an exceptionally good seller, which generates much-needed funds for schools and church organizations.
Many volunteers assist our small staff. Fathers William Kiel and William Ritzert, the spiritual directors, and an advisory board of directors, guide the mission.
If you are drawn to financially
aid or be a part of this apostolate, please contact us. Phone 724-538-3171 Fax
In his fifteen-year career as a Catholic evangelist,
Thomas has spoken on a wide spectrum of topics in over one thousand churches
around the world. His most popular presentations are:
Thomas tells of his youth, growing up and away from God and the Church. He was away from the Church for 27 years before realizing the Lord, in His infinite patience, was drawing him back from darkness into the light. His profound conversion experiences prompted him to go on pilgrimage. Many miracles followed Thomas wherever he went. His astounding story will hold your interest from beginning to end and let you experience the overwhelming emotion brought about by his personal motivations from Christ. The Lord stepped into this man's life of materialism and blindness to God's existence and brought Thomas full circle, to use him as His instrument for conversion of souls.
2: The Responsibility of Being Catholic
In this presentation Thomas explains the responsibility and joy that goes with being Catholic. He elaborates on how we must pray for our priests and support them more. He specifically focuses on the statement from the Bible "to whom much is given, much is expected." This is an eye-opening experience, a walk though scripture and its connection with the happenings of today. With attendance at Sunday Mass down to an average of 27 percent of parish population, Thomas encourages everyone to accept his or her portion of that failure and offers profound Catholic teaching on the correct path of reparation. With a jocular connection to his high school days he encourages Catholics to grade their progress to date. He gently walks the audience through scripture like, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" With their thought processes thoroughly stimulated, Thomas sends his audiences home happy and bent on doing more about their own salvation.
This exciting presentation covers the teaching of the Catholic Church on how God is the same God today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Thomas explains that God did not change - we did! He escorts the audience through his new life experiences and demonstrates how proportional grace is to one's efforts to live life God's way. Filled with stories of answered prayer, this talk gives the listener new hope and a desire to do more with the Lord.
After being allowed to travel many paths, Thomas found that some are paths of destruction. All that seems holy is not. Discernment is the order of the day. He explains that we must follow the Magisterium, that is, the Holy Father and all the cardinals, bishops and priests who are in union with him. They are there to guide us, Thomas says. Without them, we start following false visionaries and every foolish trap that Satan sets. This word of caution from a layperson opens many eyes to the traps of Satan.
5: In Giving You Receive
One problem in the church today is the lack of incoming funds to take care of all of the parish expenses. The dramatic reduction of funds has come about because of many reasons, one of which is that 73% of all Catholics no longer attend Mass every Sunday. A second reason is that Catholics give at the rate of just 1.% of their income. God asks for 10%. It is difficult for pastors to address this problem without being charged with an obsession for money. In a very humorous way, Thomas convinces people to give more of their time, talent and treasure. As the people are laughing, he delivers a powerful message and informs parishioners of the great rewards that God grants to those who give. He explains his life experiences in giving versus not giving. Those wonderful parables are what keep the audience asking for more. The end result is that weekly collections go up as well as parish share.
6: Words to Children
In his portfolio of presentations, Thomas has two very special talks, one for children and one for young adults. You would have to attend one of these sessions to believe that young people will sit still for an hour or more and listen to stories of God. Thomas has spoken at Catholic and non-Catholic schools around the world with astounding results. He encourages the young to consider, while making their life decisions, the best jobs in the whole world - Catholic vocations.
At the end of his presentations, Thomas calls on our Lord, the Holy Spirit and Blessed Mother for special, individual blessings on everyone who wishes to come forward and receive them. The Holy Spirit, working through Thomas, bestows many graces and physical healings to those who are open to receive. These are always special and emotional evenings, which change many lives.
Bishop Donald Wuerl of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, advised Thomas that if he truly wanted to give up everything and go into the world to evangelize, then he would go with his (the bishop's) blessing. Bishop Wuerl has presented for inclusion in this package, a letter of support. He invites those who need to verify Thomas's credentials to contact his office.
We have included some letters of reference that may help expedite the approval process. For parishes in Canada, a call to Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton, Alberta (403-469-1010), will provide confirmation of Canadian approval.
If you are interested in having Tom speak at your church, please write or call:
230 East Main
Street - Evans City, PA 16033 Phone: 724-538-3171 - Fax 724-538-8855
LETTER FROM BISHOP WUERL
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter serves as an introduction to Thomas Rutkoski. For the past ten years I have known Thomas, particularly through the many years in which he worked with me on my weekly television program "The Teaching of Christ." Although he does not exercise any official ministry on behalf of the diocese, I have the highest personal regard for Thomas and am convinced of his sincerity in his effort to spread the gospel.
His apostolate, Gospa Missions, has provided a number of evangelizing retreats and conferences in the diocese. While these are not sponsored by the diocese, they represent, as far as I can determine, an effort to present authentic Church teaching. In the conferences sponsored by Gospa Missions in Pittsburgh, Thomas has worked diligently to involve diocesan staff speakers.
Obviously, I cannot speak for future programs and activities of Gospa Missions but I can speak from my experience of Thomas and his mission as a lay evangelist. I have never received a complaint about the orthodoxy of his teaching. In fact, I have heard numerous compliments about the content of his talks and his evident evangelical enthusiasm.
From time to time, those who wish to invite Thomas to speak in their parish have asked for a reference. If more than this letter of support is needed, I would ask you to please contact the Reverend Ronald P. Lengwin, our diocesan secretary for pastoral life, who is also our diocesan spokesperson and who has known Thomas Rutkoski for many years longer than I have.
In the hope that this letter is of some assistance to you and with every good wish and prayer, I am
Faithfully in Christ,
Donald W. Wuerl
BISHOP JOSEPH E. UKPO
A11 Hallows Chancery P.O.
Box 27 Ogoja, Cross River State Ogoja, Cross
River State Nigeria Nigeria
Bishop Donald Wuerl
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Greetings from your brother in the episcopacy from Ogoja in Nigeria! As Thomas and Mary Rutkoski take leave of us here in Ogoja, I wish to express the deep and abiding gratitude of the Faithful people of God, the Clergy and Religious of the diocese to them through you. We are sure that it is with your permission that Gospa Missions is doing the wonderful work of spreading the word of God, the word of Life, "to all nations". Thank You!
Tom has epitomized "Caritas Christi urget nos". He has put into practice Christ's mandate'...... to bring glad tidings to the poor....' (Lk. 4:18). His actions were more than volumes for the laity on how to make the Church present in all earthly realities of their state in life.
I was particularly impressed by his balanced spirituality; and a down to earth humble approach to prayer and the Sacraments. In today's advanced world, people measure what is right by what pleases a majority of people, and what science and technology can achieve rather than the will of Christ. It is inspiring. It is reassuring for us who see America in this class, produce a Thomas Rutkoski, with sincere Catholic Faith, upholding true Christian values and orthodox in the practice of the Christian virtues.
With his charismatic approach , buttressed by his closeness to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he was able to move the people and help them to renew their enthusiasm to work for the realization of their vocation 'as 'children of God.'
My brother Bishop Wuerl, thanks for your permission and recognition of "Gospa Missions". I hope to have the opportunity to meet with you. Until then, Ora pro invicem.
Yours fraternally in Christ,
Bishop Joseph E. UKPO
OGOJA DIOCESE, NIGERIA
Diocese of Chalan Kanoa
Commonwealth of the Mariannas P.O. Box
745 Saipan, MP 96950
Mr. Thomas Rutkoski
121 E. Main
Evans City, PA 16033
Dear Mr. Rutkoski,
This is just a short letter to thank you for serving as a speaker at our recent Marian Conference. Your willingness to come such a great distance to help remind our people of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the closing days of the twentieth century is very much appreciated.
I have spoken with a number of the people attending the conference and your presentation was consistently mentioned as really touching their hearts. This is especially the case with the men who attended. Your down to earth presentation, as well as the illustrations drawn from your own life, reached many of the men. They saw someone like themselves, a layman with family responsibilities. They saw a man who had achieved a high level of worldly success, yet who came to judge that success by the standard of the Gospel. They saw someone whose faith is an integral part of his life. They saw someone with whom they could relate.
People hear the clergy week after week presenting the Good News of salvation, yet they often tune out what the clergy say. Perhaps, they question our ability to understand their situation. You got them to listen. You got them think seriously about their faith.
I wish you well in your ministry. If there is anything I can do to be of assistance, please feel free to call upon me.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Thomas A. Camacho,
DD Bishop of Chalan Kanoa
Fr. Eric Forbes, OFM Cap
St. Fidelis Friary 135 Gunut Circle Agana Heights, Guam 96919
Most Rev. Donald Wuerl,
DD Bishop of
111 Boulevard of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Dear Bishop Wuerl,
Peace in the Lord Jesus!
I had the pleasure of hosting Tom and Mary Rutkoski's visit to our island of Guam. I heard every one of Tom's talks and presentations during his 2-day visit. Tom spoke to a gathering of diocesan clergy, two parishes, one parochial school, one group of lay people involved in various prayer groups, and finally to our community of cloistered Carmelite Nuns. Everyone who heard Tom enjoyed his message; many were moved and inspired by his simple but crucial message for everyone to take their faith seriously and to live the Gospel message of Jesus and Mary. I can testify that some were moved spontaneously to go to confession after hearing his talk. I look forward to the next time Tom will be able to come back to Guam and make these presentations again.
As I pray for you in your pastoral ministry, please do the same for me.
Fr. Eric Forbes, OFM Cap
Novice Master / Vocation Director
Subject: Dallas Visit
To: Thomas Rutkoski
I can't thank you and Joan enough for the fabulous night you helped us experience on Sunday!
God certainly filled the room that night! We were so blessed to have had you!
It is so fun to allow God to "do His thing" and I will always look back and smile when I remember how he put this night together in just 48 hours........
Sometimes we struggle and work so hard at making everything "just right" for each event ... and planning each minute of every program so it has the "maximum effect"... but then God comes along and does the same thing so simply and easily!
It's truly "Sacred Delight" when it happens ... I won't ever tire of the times God "takes me to school" and teaches me more and more about having Faith and Trusting Him!
You are a tremendous instrument in our world today ... your message is simple, direct, and came through loud and clear. You and Joan are certainly in my prayers!
Thanks for coming! You're welcome back any time ... and I'll be sure to keep you in mind for other events and pass your name along to the other Youth Ministers in the area!
Peace, Love, Joy, and Laughter,
Coordinator of Youth
Mary Immaculate Church
A sampling of 25 letters Thomas received
from children at
Butler, PA, Catholic School
February 2, 1999
Dear Mr. Rutkoski,
I would like to thank you for giving your time to talk to us and teach us. I now know that I am not the only one who at one point in time has made little mistakes. You really inspired us. Ever since you talked to us I have been so responsible and neat. I just want you to know that some people were called back in to reality and brought back into the real word! I just want to say you have brought us to realize that lying, stealing and cheating will soon catch up to you later on in life. You made me realize that it is simple to lie but better to tell the truth. You were a great inspiration in my life. I thank you for that. Please write back to me at Butler Catholic School 515 East Locust Street Butler, PA 16001. Thanks for everything!
Dear Mr. Rutkoski,
Thank you for coming to my school. I think your speech inspired us all. All I know is it inspired me, and I hope you will come back again. God surely wants you to keep preaching his good news. I hope he will take good care of you.