by: Dr. Mario Sacasa

What Brought Me to Willwoods Faith and Marriage

Since 2006, I have had the pleasure of being a psychotherapist and marriage counselor. It’s good work, but hard work. Listening to people’s problems all day can be taxing, but seeing people overcome their struggles is a grace and knowing that I played a role in that growth is a gift. I am always humbled when clients share with me deeply personal information, things that they have not even shared to their closest confidants. Truly, it has been a calling to help and minister to folks through my practice of counseling.

Yet, as I get older, I am more aware of my limitations; in particular the limitations of time and energy. As good as the work is in counseling sessions, you are limited to one person (or two if doing marriage counseling), one hour, one day a week. Since I have been listening to people’s stories for over a decade now, I have heard patterns in those experiences and now presume that there are lots of people all over that country that struggle with similar issues. But knowing that I cannot counsel everyone, I still want to help in some way and offer whatever encouragement I could. That desire drove me towards wanting to do more online writing and starting a podcast. I want to build a different kind of relationship with people through digital platforms.

If I was going to be serious about pursuing this, I knew that it meant my time was coming to a close at my previous employer and that I would have to take a risk to see where this desire was leading. So, I did what anyone else does when you get a crazy idea, I started talking to my family and closest friends about it. I needed to make sure those around me thought this was the right thing to do. My wife was on board and so were my family and friends. I was ready to take the leap of faith and tendered my resignation. (All of this seems pretty bananas when I write it out now.)

One fateful conversation was with my buddy Jason Angelette, who happens to be the director of Faith and Marriage. By the time I spoke with him, I had already decided to pursue this new venture, but I just didn’t know how God would actualize that desire. Jason, ever the energetic soul, loved what I was communicating and asked if I would be interested in doing everything I just described at Willwoods. I said I was open to talking about it and seeing if we could get the details to work out. I laid out a proposal of what I could bring to this ministry and had conversations with him and Ron Yager, COO of the company. Unbeknownst to us, the Board of Directors were having similar discussions about how to expand Jason’s work with Faith and Marriage and wanted his suggests on how to do that. With my proposal in hand, Jason and Ron shared to them what I could bring to the table. The Board agreed, the details worked out, and here we are. Lesson learned: Providence is always at work, even when we can’t see it.

So, who am I and what will I be doing at Willwoods Faith and Marriage? Great question, glad you asked. My name is Dr. Mario Sacasa, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist and have my doctorate in counseling education and supervision from Holy Cross University. I have made it the focus of my career to find the points of contact between orthodoxy and sound clinical practices. In other words, I love finding the Truth in both faith and science. I have taught graduate-level courses at Notre Dame Seminary, Divine Mercy University, and the Institute for Priestly Formation. I have conducted marriage retreats for the Theology of the Body Institute and lectured at Dumb Ox Ministries’ ECHO: Theology of the Body Camp. I have conducted my marriage retreat Living the Gift of Marriage in various parishes and dioceses. I have offered many lectures on the topics of marriage, counseling, pornography, healing, and faith.  I have worked for dioceses and parishes in the areas of Family Life. I love Jesus. And my wife and kids. I have been married for close to 16 years and am the father of four awesome boys.

At Willwoods, I will be continuing their proud tradition of serving married couples through retreats and lectures. I am eager to serve you through these retreats and other speaking engagements. I am also excited about the opportunity to pursue the aforementioned digital endeavors. That means you can expect from me regular blogs on the topics of faith, marriage, culture, or whatever other hair-brained ideas I decide to write on. But my real baby is that I am starting a brand-spanking new podcast: Always Hope with Dr. Mario. I love podcasts and so thrilled to finally be starting my own. In all honesty, I have talked about starting a podcast for well over 7 years and now just happens to be the right time and circumstance. Always Hope is an interview-based show, where I will talk to experts, thinkers, and doers of various interests. I know life is hard and we need to find hope in the particular challenges we face, that’s what this show sets out to do. In addition, you’ll get shorter episodes where I will review movies (I love movies!), books, and music. I can get lost in a good story and will try my best to help you see what I see in the art. As Christians, we are charged to find the wheat in the chaff, to find the good in life even when it is hard. That’s hope.

So, what do you think so far? I’m pumped to be here and stretch my creative wings. Thank you for welcoming me and taking the time to read this post. If you like what you’ve seen, then subscribe to our email list, so you don’t miss out on the upcoming great content. Follow me on Instagram (@drmariosacasa) and Facebook (drmariosacasa) to keep the conversation going. I look forward to serving you through these digital means and helping to bring hope and dialogue back into the culture.

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