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Donna D\’Errico & the Secret of Ağrı Dağı

July 15, AD2013

\"Donna

Donna D\’Errico is a real life modern day explorer. She\’s getting ready to journey into the most amazing and remote location in the world, Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey, to follow her life’s quest. Ağrı Dağı is the Turkish name for the mountain. What\’s the secret to be found there? She\’s looking for Noah\’s Ark.

You may remember her as \”Donna Marco\” from the television show, Baywatch, a different life for this now devoted Catholic mother and adventurer. Since she was a little girl, she\’s dreamed of searching for Noah\’s Ark, the one from the Bible. She\’s been already.

In August 2012, she says she finally realized her lifelong dream. She climbed Mount Ararat and searched for Noah’s Ark for nearly two weeks, and she began filming a documentary about the search. She\’s going back this summer and has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to complete the documentary. Let her tell you about it.

Interview with Donna

\"Donna

Donna was gracious enough to talk with me about her trip. This is so exciting. Of course, there have been plenty of negative reactions. A lot of people find it hard to believe that anyone would think that Noah\’s Ark is there, but Donna is not swayed. Some find it hard to believe that she would take such a risk with her life, but again, Donna is not swayed. This is so admirable in the day and age of doubt and ambivalence. I admire her for the stand she takes for her faith and for her dream.

Stacy: I relate to so much of your personal journey, and although my dream wasn\’t to climb Mt. Ararat, I am inspired by your passion to follow yours. It’s a big dream! It takes courage, and courage is a virtue. I know something of this courage; it’s like David vs. Goliath. You have to try. Where did you find the courage to follow this dream? Why do it? As some might say, why not just let it go? You went already and almost got killed.

Donna: I have been inexplicably drawn to climbing Mount Ararat and searching for Noah\’s Ark ever since I was a child. It\’s hard to explain, really. It\’s just something I have felt a strong pull towards my whole life. This is not some new or recent fancy of mine. In fact, some interviews I gave 15 years ago where I talk about this lifelong dream of mine are still available online. It was my brush with death from a near-fatal MRSA infection in December 2010 that prompted me to finally get out there and search for the Ark like I\’d been dreaming of doing my whole life. I worked very hard training to get in the physical condition needed for climbing and living on a mountain for two weeks. I also worked very hard researching and planning the expedition. It took a long time and a lot of preparation and determination. Being a mother, I have always told my kids that they can accomplish anything if they want it badly enough and work hard for it. What I did showed them what I have always only told them. You really can accomplish your dreams. I would never tell my kids to let their dreams go. Neither would I want to set an example like that by letting my dream go.

Stacy: We both are mothers. I admire the way you brag about your children and tell about the time you spend with them. I will tell my daughters about you. I’ll tell them that there’s a woman who had the man-made fame and glory of Hollywood, but went on to become an explorer, and she searched bravely for Noah’s Ark. Here in the weeks before your preparation to, again, climb Mt. Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark, what message can you send to children about being successful in life?

Donna: Goodness, what a wonderful way to have described me to your daughters! Bless you for that.

The message I would like to send to children is the same message I send to my own: You really can accomplish your dreams. Dream big, work hard, and guard your faith. The world is filled with people who want to take your faith away from you. Get on your knees at your bed every night before bed and thank God for all he gave you that day. Pray together with your family; it makes you stay close. Learn and pray the Rosary. Being a good person, following the Ten Commandments, praying, attending Mass every Sunday, and being close to your mother and father is not \”uncool\”, no matter what anyone says. Anyone who does those things is definitely cool in my book.

Stacy: People are curious about why you are climbing a mountain, risking your life, some even say defying science, to search for something that may not even be there — but I get your passion. It\’s about more than that, isn\’t it? It is a manifestation of your faith, a manifestation of reaching for something beyond you, a way of literally shouting from the mountain top to all the world, \”I believe!\” Have you thought of that?

Donna: Yes, it may partly be that. But I do in fact believe that it is there, or at least a portion of it is. There have been too many detailed eyewitness accounts from respected individuals over the years to believe otherwise. Many of those who have claimed to see the Ark were United States military, some quite high-ranking. Some people have mistakenly surmised that I am wanting to find the Ark to prove to myself that God is real or that the Bible is factual rather than myth. My faith is solid. I need nothing to prove those things to me; I know them to be true without any \”proof\”.

Stacy: How can we pray for you on this mission?

Donna: I would be grateful for any and all prayers that it might be possible for me to return there this year, prayers for my safety while there, and prayers that I will be able to complete the documentary about my search so that those who see it might be inspired to be more vocal about their own faith.

(You can also read more in an interview Donna did with J.Q. Tomanek at Ignitum Today.)

\"Donna

How You Can Help

Donna\’s Kickstarter page can be found here, The Secret of Ağrı Dağı. She\’s offering a autographed DVDs of her documentary, autographed prints, expedition t-shirts, and more for her backers. Please offer prayers and, if you can, offer your financial support for her documentary.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

Filed in: Church History

About the Author:

Stacy Trasancos has a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State University and a MA in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, is a chemistry and physics instructor for Kolbe Academy, adjunct professor at Holy Apostles, and author of Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki. Most of her time is devoted to raising her youngest five children, and worrying about her two oldest, with her husband in a 100-year old restored mountain lodge in the Adirondack mountains. Interact with her on Facebook or Twitter. Visit her website.

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  • bill bannon

    Stacy,
    Love this and I don’t even agree that the flood account is global history…but think it local. Watch the timing in Genesis ( it’s impossible that seven days after finding no dry spot…the dove finds a non waterlogged new olive plant…unless the flood were local and the dry olive branch came from beyond a ridge that always was beyond the flood):

    Gen.8:8
    Then he released a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.
    9
    But the dove could find no place to perch, and it returned to him in the ark, for there was water over all the earth. Putting out his hand, he caught the dove and drew it back to him inside the ark.
    10
    He waited yet seven days more and again released the dove from the ark.
    11
    In the evening the dove came back to him, and there in its bill was a plucked-off olive leaf! So Noah knew that the waters had diminished on the earth.”
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    The verses as they continue argue for the ark setting down at an altitude that supports olive plants
    …ie much lower that snowy peaks. Why do I like this article? She’s erring on the literalist side and that
    for me is far closer to the truth than much of high Catholic writing including the anti OT violence comments by the last two Popes ( see Evangelium Vitae, sect.40 and Verbum Domini, sect.42).
    I will entrust Donna to the prayers of the martyrs of Kyoto in the coming weeks. The son of Ed Peters, the canon lawyer, just had a serious vertebra accident. Bad things happen to good people. I will indeed pray.

    • bill bannon

      ps….should Donna read this, please check this link:

      http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?id=666

    • Thank you Bill! I agree with you. I don’t know much about the question of Noah’s Ark, but I love her faith and courage to follow this dream. I am worried about her safety though. Turkey isn’t a very safe place right now.

      Prayers for Thomas Peters too. I heard yesterday.

      Good information in the link! Thanks for that too!

    • bill bannon

      Stacy,
      I suspect the Peters accident will turn out to be diving related not swimming….I did diving…the competitive form brings one too close to the board if one’s take off is in the least defective. Even Louganis hit the board on descent at times. I actually stopped after a close call regarding my vertebrae on the high board. Or one dives in too shallow an area from the side.

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