The Door of Faith

Recently, Barbara, a friend of our family passed away at 79 years old. When her daughters asked me to do the wake and graveside service, I was very honored.  Though I’ve had some experience in speaking at funerals, leading such a service was a “first” for me.  Maeve and I knew that we had to truly lean on the Lord!

At the wake, I gave Barbara’s eulogy, for which the family thanked me.  It was the kind of personal tribute that they had hoped for. When I’d finished speaking of her life, I spoke on the Scriptures that we had used for the prayer service.  Here are those reflections;

Psalm 23 speaks of rest.   It’s written by the greatest King of Israel, David, who was a shepherd when God called him.  From his days of watching over and protecting the sheep, David learned what was needed to be a good shepherd.   He knew that sheep have to eat, so he found them ‘green pastures.’  He knew they have to drink, so he led them to ‘still waters.’  He also knew they needed protection from wolves, so he spoke of the ‘rod and staff’ which shepherds use to drive away predators.

“As King of all Israel, he reflected on the nature of God, so it was easy for him to compare the Lord with a shepherd, and not just any earthly shepherd.  No, for David, who obviously was a true friend of God, the Lord was his shepherd and he could say with the firmness of a great faith; “There is nothing I shall want.”   Can we say that?   If not, why not?

“Listen again to these words of the Psalm;  ‘Surely goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life.’  This was Barbara’s experience of life.   For all who believe, it’s a full and graced life to be in the flock of the Lord Jesus.

“Then at Psalm’s end, ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.’   Yes, this is the Hope of all hopes, and this is what Jesus himself promised on the night before He died.

“‘There are many rooms in my Father’s house.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am, you also may be           –John 14:2-3

This is what he told his closest friends on the night before he would die a cruel death on the Cross.  He knew that all His suffering would be worth it.   Why?

“The answer is found earlier in John’s Gospel.  ‘The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’ (John 10:11)   If we see with eyes of faith, then we truly see.  We know in our hearts that we are His sheep… and that the awful price He paid was for each of us.

“On the day Barbara died, I went to St Peter’s for what would be my very last visit with her.  I almost didn’t go, because of my busy schedule.  Yet, my instinct told me that I needed to go, and indeed, go soon.  I got there at one o’clock, just hours before she passed and Beth, her daughter, was there.   She and her sister, Karen had been keeping shifts faithfully.

“When I saw her, Barbara could barely open her eyes, but she did… at the sound of my voice.  I asked Beth to join me in a prayer.  Trust me when I tell you that I could immediately sense the Love that Jesus had for his ‘lamb.’   As Beth bowed her head and held her mother’s hand and as I touched Barbara’s shoulder gently, I prayed aloud that she would feel the compassion and the care of the Good Shepherd.  I knew in my heart of hearts, as sick and helpless as she was, that she was in good hands.   No, not good hands… the best hands!

“And that my friends, is where we trust that she is now, at peace and basking in the infinite joy of heaven.  This is where you who loved her and you who felt her love, will also one day be… in the best hands. Those hands of course, are the hands of Jesus, who remains eternally…. the Good Shepherd.”

"I know my sheep and they know me." -John 10:14

“I know my sheep and they know me.”    -John 10:14

You need only believe.  Faith is the door,  the door to the Hope that never dies and to the life that never ends!

May the soul of Barbara, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace.   May her family and friends be consoled by God’s trustworthy promises.             Amen.

PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDAR – You’re invited to…

…the next “Visit with St. Paul”  which will be on  Sunday, August 9th, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, 210 Princetown Rd., Rotterdam.  It will begin promptly at 2:30 PM, immediately following a Holy Hour.  Afterwards, the parish annual Festa continues, so be sure to plan on staying to enjoy the music & food!

Spiritual Motherhood

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.

IMG_0437                              With Sr. Grace, Debbie Klose and Maria Stella

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!

         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!


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!