When you’re not a mother, Mother’s Day can be painful. But this year was my best Mother’s Day! The day before (Sat), my husband, Glenn, and I were heading out for the day and he suggested that I wear a dress. I dismissed this suggestion, reminding him we’d be evangelizing in a city park and I’d lack pockets (for storing prayer cards). So I dressed casually.
After sharing the Lord’s love with many people, we strolled through the crowded Tulip Festival, with its many vendors. At one of these, Glenn held up a bright, blue summer dress.
“How do you like this one?” he asked.
“Nice, but I don’t need a dress.”
Our next destination was a Mother’s Day dinner at a Church where I served as a missionary for eight years. I looked forward to visiting with old friends but viewed the celebration as something peripheral – nice for others, but not particularly relevant to my life. But Glenn really seemed to want me to get this dress for the event, so I agreed. When we got to the Church, I changed in the bathroom.
The Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Americas in Albany, is the friendliest Church I’ve ever been a part of. One always feels welcomed! We were greeted by a rainbow of sights: a pastel-lit punch bowl and colorful fruit tray adorned a table. Red and white tablecloths, napkins, and decorations transformed the Church hall. A flowered arch served as the backdrop for professional photographs. A parishioner served as DJ and teenagers, dressed smartly in black and red, served food.
Our Hispanic friends cook the best chicken, rice and vegetables that you’ve ever tasted! The entertainment started while we were served cake. An old friend played songs on his guitar. A poem about mothers was recited. Then Fausto, the DJ turned MC, started describing a special person who was being honored. In Spanish, I heard him say that this was a person one could turn to when your parents needed a break or when they weren’t giving you something you wanted. This person liked to do all different types of activities with children and sometimes adults. She shared a love for Jesus and helped people to pray in ways that were fun and innovative. Then the MC mentioned ministries in which I’d been involved or started, such as Vacation Bible School and Junior Youth Group. At this point, I tried to catch Glenn’s eye, but he was avoiding eye contact.
The MC now re-stated everything in English. Now I knew without a doubt that this “mystery person” was me. He thanked me for being a spiritual mother and stated how much I was appreciated by children and adults alike. So this was the reason Glenn had wanted me to wear a dress! Fausto invited me up to receive flowers and say a few words as the new “Spiritual Mother of the Year.” Dread fluttered in my stomach but as I looked out at my friends, fear gave way to joy.
I spoke of how I came to the Shrine Church. Glenn had introduced me to LAMP Ministries when we were dating. After our marriage, it was agreed that I be assigned as a LAMP missionary to a Spanish-speaking parish where I could use the language which I’d learned in Bolivia as a Salesian Lay Missionary. While discerning where I should serve, we attended Mass at the Shrine Church (then Holy Family). St. Kateri Tekakwitha is our friend and we were praying by her statue that day, when someone invited us to a picnic at her shrine in Fonda, NY. We sensed that this coincidence was actually God’s “stamp of approval.” Indeed, this was the parish where He wanted me to serve.
During the succeeding years, Glenn and I did some ministry together, such as leading a prayer meeting for soup kitchen patrons and teaching baptism class, but most of my service was on my own. I initiated a Junior Youth Group. “A Visit With St. Paul” began at a 2008 Vacation Bible School, the first of two very successful programs that I directed. I led a parish retreat for Lent, and took advantage of many other opportunities for catechesis and evangelization.
The Junior Youth Group- all grown up!
During my time as a LAMP missionary, many wonderful friendships were begun, which endure to this day. I was stretched to love better and to go beyond my “comfort zone.” I exercised God-given gifts, some of which I didn’t even know I had!
This whole evening was a joy-filled surprise. There are so many thanks that I want to extend to the Hispanic and English-speaking communities, especially to Griselle Maldonado-Torres who ran the wonderful evening and made me feel so appreciated! Thanks also to Sr. Peg Kedell, CSJ, who herself was honored that night as a Spiritual Mother and who has shown me so much love and support in this area.
The next day was Mother’s Day and Glenn and I attended Mass at our home parish. What would have been a sad day for me was now a joyous day of celebration!
Maybe you are a Spiritual Mother yourself or will thank one next Mother’s Day. And the same for Father’s Day!
RADIO INTERVIEW; ” A VISIT WITH ST. PAUL “
Earlier in June, Glenn was interviewed on WOPG, the local Catholic radio station. Please go to our Radio Show page to hear the 38 minute interview.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR – You’re invited to…
… the next “Visit with St. Paul” which will be August 9th, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 210 Provincetown Rd., Rotterdam. It will begin promptly at 2:30 PM, immediately following a Holy Hour. The parish annual Festa will continue that day, so be sure to plan on spending some of the afternoon enjoying the music & food!