Weekly Blog

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Over the last several years, I’ve come to understand that everything happens for a reason, that there are no coincidences in this world. Since having my eyes opened to this, I’ve seen it over and over in my life and the lives of others. Here’s an example. 

On April 25, 2012, I was driving up the interstate to talk to my therapist (yes, I was in therapy for several years given the tragedy I had experienced) about marrying career and ministry. Having experienced conversion 6 years earlier and growing in my faith year after year, it was something seriously on my heart. While driving, I received an email from Mark Nehrbas, my eventual predecessor at Franciscan University of Steubenville. I had met Mark as part of Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh. 

I pulled over to read the email, then asking Mark to call me. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Moving to another position at the University, Mark was advising his network of the vacancy from his old job…one that matched up to my interests and skill set. When we spoke, he advised me that it was the Feast Day of St. Mark. So it was Mark talking to Mark on the Feast Day of St. Mark, when Mark was on his way to see his therapist about ministry and career. You can’t make this stuff up. 

Knowing the Joy of Christ 

A week ago Monday, I attended Mark Nehrbas’ funeral. After battling cancer for more than 9 years, Mark died at age 71. Although way too young, it was truly a celebration of his life. The Church was packed…not a spare seat. The Liturgy was beautiful, apparently planned in its entirety by Mark. His 9 children, their spouses, and their kids were a joy to see, as was his wife, Carol…all a testament to Mark’s commitment to faith and family.  

During his homily/eulogy, Fr. Tim Shannon indicated that Mark was baptized in the Spirit 52 years ago. Moving to Steubenville over 30 years ago for the Charismatic Renewal, Mark was an active member of the Community of God’s Love. Passionate about sharing the love of Christ and the joy of living life in the Holy Spirit, Mark was a presence in the community and nationally through his work at the University. Always evangelizing, always full of joy, and always smiling. While Mark will be missed, his legacy is significant, centered on his family, second only to Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. 

I thank God for Mark, not only for his witness and example, not just for all the work he did at the University as my predecessor…but also because of the impact he had on my journey. Had Mark not sent that email on April 25, 2012, I wouldn’t be at Franciscan University. Had we not talked that day and he so encouraged me, I may not have applied for the job that I’ve had now for 10 years. 

Mark talking to Mark on the Feast Day of St. Mark, when Mark was on his way to talk to his therapist about career and ministry. You can’t make this stuff up. No coincidences, no mistakes.  Everything happens for a reason, all as per God’s grand plan. Thank you, Mark!! Praise God!!!

Please see this video for an interview Mark gave not long ago on suffering. 

As always, please email me at with questions, concerns, comments, or prayer requests. 

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for Greatness!!!

Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

The Gift of Our Faith

Do you ever wonder what you’d do without your faith? How you’d experience life? It’s hard to imagine. Having Jesus Christ as my lens through which to see the world is an extreme comfort. After all, we know the end of the story…as they say. We know who wins. 

As I referenced two weeks ago, life can and does get tough. We are presented with many challenges. Some are far reaching and although may not have an immediate personal impact, can create worry nonetheless. Others are very personal and close to home. 

Related to the latter, this COVID thing is crazy. It hits different people in various ways. I have a friend, Ben, who’s been in the hospital with it since June 17th, first on a ventilator and getting dialysis. We would get updates from his wife, Mariely, regularly and for a while they weren’t good. He was in real danger. By the time this blog posts, he will hopefully have had the trach tube removed and is now able to talk. 

I visited Ben recently and he looked amazing, really amazing, especially given what he’s gone through. We prayed together and received Communion from a visiting Deacon. Ben is wearing a scapular and has a Rosary ring. There’s a large picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the windowsill. Given the great devotion they have to our Virgin Mother, Mariely was sharing with me the Marian Feasts that take place during August, each one marking a new milestone in Ben’s recovery. Mariely also shared the soothing impact it has on Ben when she prays the Rosary daily, along with the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  

Because of COVID, I had stopped going to daily Mass and was dragging my feet going back. It was Ben insisting that I do so, that got me to go again…never missing. I work with Ben. I love asking him to pray before our meetings, where he always reverently invokes our Lady. Ben is one of the holiest, kindest, conscientious, most compassionate (and btw smartest), men I know and I’m not just saying that because he’s been sick. He deeply loves our Lord, along with his wife and kids. His faith is a part of him. You can hear it in his voice and see it in his actions.  


Be Not Afraid

I was on a call this past week, where the person I was talking to said, “be not afraid”, making reference to our faith. I reminded him that it says some derivative of that, 365 times in Scripture. Ben has no fear because he has faith. It was such a joy being with Ben and Mariely, whose faith is so strong. What an example they are. 

Here’s the deal. We are going to have challenges in life…big struggles, even tragedies. They’re going to occur whether we’re in relationship with Jesus or not. Here’s what I know, having done it both ways. Life is always better with God in it. Our faith really matters. It changes everything, including eliminating the fear. It’s a gift. It’s very apparent in those who truly live it, like Ben and Mariely. 

Please join me in praying for Ben (and Mariely), that he soon gets out of the hospital and fully recovers prior to his ordination to the Diaconate this fall. Let’s additionally pray for all of those who lack faith and live in fear. May God bless all of us on our journeys. 

As always, please feel free to contact me at with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.  

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

God made you for GREATNESS!!!


Mark Joseph

Weekly Blog

Losing a Classmate

A couple weeks ago, I went to the funeral of a college classmate. Although I had not seen Midge, who died way too young, since graduating 35 years ago, I felt compelled to attend. Not a surprise, there I saw Mary Anne, Midge’s college roommate and lifelong best friend since grade school. My college roommate (Jim) and I had a connection with Midge and Mary Anne, in that we were all from Pittsburgh. We hadn’t known each other prior to college, nor did we see one another between semesters, but we had that common bond that connected us. Interesting how that happens.

Realizing that it’s 35 years ago and my memory isn’t what it used to be, I can’t remember ever seeing Midge separate from Mary Anne. They were inseparable….always together. And always, always SMILING AND LAUGHING. Reflecting on it, I can’t recall ever meeting two more joy filled people during that time in my life. What a great memory.

Fr. Tom, who was the Celebrant for Midge’s Funeral Mass, is Mary Anne’s brother, and as such has known Midge his entire life. During his homily/eulogy, he told stories of her life, always smiling and laughing, always bringing joy to other people. While he also used words like “love” and “courage”, he said his lasting memory of Midge would be “joy”. Independent of circumstance, she apparently never lost that joy during her 20-month battle with cancer.

Over the last 60 days, I lost two other friends who exuded pure joy. They are Fr. Jose Robles-Sanchez and Joy Rapp, two outstanding individuals I knew from our Steubenville Conference Ministry. Again, always smiling and like Midge, always concerned about the other person. Always bringing joy to others.

Being my age or younger, all three died way too young. If we believe what we say we believe (and I do), we know they’re in a much better place. Praise God!!! But what about us? What are we to do? What lessons do we take from losing such wonderful people…so young?

Here’s one of my lessons. We’ve all heard that love is a decision, not a feeling. In unpacking that, I think we can agree it is true. For me, I’d like to make joy a decision, not an emotion. Looking at Midge and Mary Anne, Fr. Jose and Joy as examples, I want to live in a place of joy, independent of substance or circumstance. I want to smile and laugh. I want to bring joy to others.

As evidenced on my website and the things I write about and speak on, I firmly believe that there is a Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment. I also believe that God made each of us uniquely, with special gifts, for a specific purpose. God made you for Greatness!! It’s in using those gifts and pursuing your God given purpose that you can experience joy (along with peace and fulfillment). There’s one more important factor. To experience true joy, again independent of substance or circumstance, you need to know the unconditional love of Jesus Christ (if you want more info on that, please reach out to me). May we all be so blessed!!!

As always, please contact me at with questions, comments, concerns, challenges, or prayer requests.

God Bless you on your Path to Peace, Joy, and Fulfillment!!!

Remember…God made you for GREATNESS!!!

Mark Joseph