TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Weather may be his professional passion, KLTV chief meteorologist Mark Scirto answered another calling as a young boy.
This year he's marking 50 years of involvement in music ministry. For nearly three decades, Scirto has served as a cantor and member of the choir at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler.
"When I play a chord, when I sing the music, it's it's not a performance. It's me giving back. It's me showing God what I have and thanking him for what he's given me."
He got his start as a child, singing alongside his mother, Mary, in Lockport, New York. After learning to play guitar at age seven, he asked his mom to audition.
"She told me if you learn a song and you learn it well, I'll let you play."
He says he got to work learning 'They'll Know We Are Christians With Our Love.'
"There were like five chords on it and I learned it and I played it for my mom. She goes, 'okay you can come play at Mass with me on Sunday.'"
Over the years, that relationship grew, helping guide Mark's Catholic faith into his adulthood.
"When you get older you your intelligence grows, your faith grows. And then you're able to speak more intelligently. She never looked down upon me. She continually taught me. My mom was just -- she was just incredible."
Now serving as a cantor, he devotes his Sundays to music ministry and playing a role in the spirituality of others.
Using his deep, bold singing voice, scirto helps lead an important element of divine worship by offering prayer through sacred music.
"Singing to me and singing at Mass shows that Christianity isn't something that sits still. It breathes, it's alive. And through music it becomes alive for everyone that has ears."
Over the years, Mark and his wife Beth have planted roots in the community, raising their kids here and making East Texas their home. He recalls the one event he says tested his faith and changed his life.
"Back in 2008 when I had my little medical issue with my tumor in my brain, I didn't I didn't know what was gonna happen. I didn't know if I would survive it."
A successful surgery removed the benign tumor, keeping the veteran broadcaster off the air for a short time.
Upon his return in March 2008, he told viewers, "I appreciate everything that you have done for me, everything that you have done for my family, (and) most importantly the prayers because I felt every single one of them."
Viewers sent dozens of greeting cards and sent hundreds of emails, extending well-wishes and prayer. Every year, Scirto says he pulls out the box and looks through the kind messages.
"Feeling prayer prior to that moment was on occasion. You know, someone would pray for you (and) you'd kind of feel the presence of their prayer. But East Texans made me feel it like nothing I've ever felt before."
That test of faith is why Scirto says he never shies away from asking for God's intercession, even when he's on-air.
For many taking shelter during the Canton tornado on April 29, 2017, Scirto was a calm voice of safety for viewers.
"We're forecasting and showing you where tornadoes could be. But when you see stuff like that. It just gets to you. Please pray," he told viewers during a live broadcast.
He says East Texas were there for him during his own time of need, so he wants to help protect others when severe weather strikes.
"The power of prayer was concrete. It was something that wasn't just this little spiritual thing you know. It was something that I felt and I'll never forget those moments."
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