His journey as a Catholic has taken many twists and turns. But, today at 53, Frank LaRosa is nestled in the faith of his youth.
As he searched for answers in his own life, he found wisdom in the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.
“I love the Book of Proverbs,” he said. “It’s how you attain wisdom. Do this, don’t do that; say this, don’t say that. If you follow it, it will help you learn wisdom.”
Finding it difficult to understand when he first began reading it, LaRosa turned to the top-selling Life Application Study Bible that explained Bible passages and how they can apply to current life.
As he further studied the Bible, an idea came to him in January 2011. Why not help others by trying to explain Proverbs, passage by passage? The result: the 128-page, self-published “The Book of Proverbs in Plain English” by AuthorHouse Publishing. It has 31 chapters – one to read each day of the month to keep readers on track, with
space to write a reflection.
“I wanted to make it understandable,” LaRosa said. “So I started working on a commentary first. I had good feedback from friends, so I knew I was on the right track. It was a good place to start to help people understand life in general.”
LaRosa has come full circle with his faith. Professionally he’s been a Jefferson Parish firefighter, a DJ, an entertainer who mixes comedy, impersonations and singing, in the casino business and a remodeling contractor.
Most recognize him as an entertainer and may have seen his May 2005 appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno spoofing the song, “It’s Only Make Believe” on a segment called “Does This Impress Ed Asner?” He thought it would be his break in Hollywood, but instead he landed in casinos in California for 1 1/2 years before returning to New Orleans in 2007. He now performs, promotes art and entertains at retirement homes in New Orleans.
One of seven children, LaRosa said his mother, Mary, was the epitome of a faithful Catholic. She sang at St. Christopher Church in Metairie and was in the altar society. LaRosa attended St. Christopher School and was an altar boy.
“Her dedication to God and the Blessed Mother was inspirational,” LaRosa said.
When his mother died in 1986 at age 52, it turned his life upside down.
“It was so difficult for me when she died. She did everything right. Why her? … I got away from everything. I was upset with God. … I just had bitterness.”
LaRosa said he made several attempts to return to the church but just felt lost, although he continued to keep one toe in the Catholic faith at adoration chapels, Masses, talking to priests and talking to God. He even tried several non-denominational churches but “nothing was grabbing me.”
An invitation to speak at a weekly faith luncheon hosted by sportscaster Kenny Trahan planted seeds for his faith renewal. He befriended Bag of Donuts band member Jerry Christopher, a devout Catholic. Christopher introduced LaRosa to a DVD series by Michael Cumbie, a former Baptist minister who converted to Catholicism.
“It made so much sense, and hit me so hard,” LaRosa said. “I wish they would teach this in school. The DVD series explained it perfectly. I finally got it. The Eucharist is the true body of Jesus. I realized that I was overlooking the Eucharist.”
Committed to monthly rosary
LaRosa wanted to further his faith and remembered the rosaries his grandmother would recite – eight for family members who had died. He made a New Year’s resolution to host one. On Jan. 11, several relatives and friends recited the Glorious Mysteries at his River Ridge home. Before and after the rosary, each shared the power of faith in their lives. He also played a four-minute video he created on the Virgin Mary and posted on the web.
Tony Volpe, who attended the rosary with his wife Donna and daughter Alicia, has known LaRosa for 40 years. He’s a daily communicant and believes in the power of the rosary as evidenced, he said, when friends and family prayed the rosary for his sister-in-law when she was ill, and it helped strengthen her faith. He’s glad to see LaRosa embrace his faith.
“The Catholic faith is everything to me,” Volpe said. “That and my family. You pass it on (to children and others) and hope they pass it on.”
LaRosa plans to offer a monthly rosary at his River Ridge home.
“I hope to strengthen my faith and the faith of others through the rosary,” LaRosa said. “I already feel the difference. The rosary made me feel peaceful and content. I’m trying to stay on a path and asking God to guide me.”
LaRosa’s book “The Book of Proverbs in Plain English,” is available at Barnes and Noble, on Amazon and other websites. He can be reached at frank email@example.com.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org.