Friday, July 10, 2009


In 1997, when my boys were little, my husband was laid off from work. He was eligible for unemployment insurance...I took on more hours at my job...and we muddled families do...during such times.

Suffering with agoraphobia induced by uncontrollable migraines (a diagnosis I kept secret from everyone but my very closest friends and family members), I was doing medical billing, at home, at the time, and getting paid piece-meal. I asked my supervisor for a larger workload. It just so happened that he had a new job come in that went faster and paid better. Because I had a nearly perfect accuracy rate, he trained me on that job.

The catch was, he didn't know how long the extra hours would last; and, the work had to be picked up at 5AM each weekday morning and returned by 10AM. My supervisor let me take on this job, in addition to increasing the number of regular medical billing bundles, I did each day.

That man was a life saver that summer!

My husband would go pick up the work at 5AM and deliver it at 10AM, while I worked non-stop on the computer. I was working fifteen hours a day, seven days a week. With my husband's unemployment insurance, we managed to take home only a couple hundred dollars less each paycheck.

We tightened our belts, and made it through, until my husband found a new job. Which, just so happened to coincide with the end of the contract for the new billing job, that had saved us over that summer.

Can we say: "God"-incidence!?!

Because, I was working non-stop seven days a week, for me, mass took a backseat to the situation that needed addressing at our domestic church. My husband took the boys each Sunday, but, because of our financial situation, we stopped putting envelopes in the basket, and instead the boys would each put in a dollar or two.

Then the telephone call came one Sunday afternoon, as I was struggling to get out a larger than normal billing job!

Seems the pastor was away, the DRE was on a prolonged sick leave, and one of the associate pastors was running the Religious Education Office. When he announced himself on the telephone, I was surprised, but since he had always been friendly and helpful in the past, I was happy to speak to him.

Until he told me why he had called!

He said that he was grateful that I had again volunteered to teach religion, but that I wouldn't be needed that year. He told me I was a troublemaker. He went on to tell me that he didn't understand why I wanted to teach religion, anyway, since my family never went to mass.

My family...minus only me...was at mass that very morning. It dawned on me that what this associate pastor had not been seeing, was not my family, but rather my family's envelopes!

I told him my family had been there that morning, and that I was working even as we spoke because my husband had been laid off.


Finally, I handed the telephone to my husband, who also couldn't get anywhere with the man.

I was beside myself!

The next day, I called the pastor, and that was when I found out he was away. A week or so later, he called me, and stood by everything his associate had to say because he was running the program now.

I asked the pastor: "What about my boys and religion."

His answer was: "Well, that's entirely up to you!"


I handed the telephone to my husband because I wasn't sure if I was hearing correctly...AGAIN!

My husband spoke with the pastor, and reiterated everything I had heard.

The next day, I called the diocese. A very nice religious sister told me to find another parish! She said her own sister had been treated badly at her geographic parish, and she found another parish...was happy, and practically running the place.

I didn't think that was going to happen with ME!

That afternoon, one of the auxiliary bishops called my house, to tell me that this was a parish matter, and he would not be getting involved. He just wanted to let me know that he was praying for me.

I wasn't really impressed...although today, I will tell you I have much respect for this same bishop!

I hung up with the bishop and went to pick up my boys from school. When I returned home, there was a message on my answering machine from the pastor...saying that by all means my children were welcome in that parish!








I didn't return the call...although, it was obvious to me that, although the bishop wasn't getting involved...he clearly DID!

I was leaving the Church!

How dare they JUDGE me when they didn't even know what was going on in my life...and how much we were struggling!

Who did they think they were!?!

September came, and my boys were not enrolled in religious education.

My father was very upset, because I wasn't doing what was right by his grandkids!

My family are Sacrament Catholics at best, and my younger son was in second grade at the First Holy Communion was in jeopardy, here! This was IMPORTANT to my dad!

One evening, I was washing dishes and the wind started howling. I always begin to pray when the wind begins to blow, because, the swaying trees remind me of just how close the Holy Spirit really is to us, at all times. That evening, as I washed the dinner dishes, I began to pray about my son, my dad, my faith, my Church...or lack thereof.

As I prayed, Mother Cabrini came to mind. Always, I go to her when I am in trouble. And, I was very troubled that evening. As I prayed, I realized there was a church in her name one town over. I listened to the little voice saying: "call them."

I looked up the number in the telephone book...called...and left a message on the answering machine in the Religious Education Office. All I said was that I was interested in enrolling my sons.

As for ME...I WAS DONE with the Catholic Church...apparently, SHE is STILL NOT DONE with ME!

The next day, the sister who ran the program at the time called me to say my boys were more than welcome to enter the program there; but, (there's always a but with God...isn't there?) I would have to meet with her in the morning before she could place them.

Since, I had to go to this meeting because my father was upset that his boys wouldn't have the sacraments, I called and dragged him and mother with me!

Misery loves company, you know!

The next day, I went to the church. I had never been there before. The boys were in school, so it was just the three of us. Sister told me to come into her office. She closed the door, and it was now just Sister and I.


Sister told me she would enroll my boys, and then asked about their religious education thus far. I told her that I had taught my older son through fifth grade, and that the younger boy was in second grade. Sister said, "You are a catechist?! You teach fifth grade?! I need a fifth grade catechist for the same time your boys will be here!"

Keeping my cool...I WAS leaving the CHURCH...after all...I WAS only there to shut my father up...after all...I told her I couldn't possibly teach.

When she pressed me, I broke into tears!

I told her I wasn't good enough to be a catechist...I was a troublemaker...the priest at the other parish had said so. I don't always make it to mass because of work obligations and health problems...Sister interrupted me, and said she didn't care about that!

As I wiped my leaking face, she handed me a catechist manual saying: "Your boys are enrolled for Saturdays at 10AM. I need a fifth grade catechist for Saturdays at 10AM. You are a fifth grade catechist. You were sent here. Go home and pray about it. I'll see you, Saturday!"

And, ushered me right OUT of the office!!

I went home, looked at the book, prayed about it, and went back on Saturday to teach that class! We went to mass the next day, and I haven't stopped teaching religion, or going to permitting...since!

Three months later...four months before my younger son received First Holy father died.

To this day...I believe, that the reason he had lived through the heart attacks and stroke, he had had over the years prior...was because he had to bring me back...albeit, kicking and the Catholic Church!

Right before my younger son was to receive First Holy Communion, I was formally introduced to the pastor. I will tell you, I was a little nervous. Up until that point, I did well with nuns,!

Sister introduced me by saying I was geographically from another parish.

I thought, "Oh it comes!"

Father looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and said, "I don't care where you are from, and I don't care what went on over there, in the past...I'm just glad you're here now, in the present!"

That sealed it for me!

Three years later, it was that same pastor and that same sister who wrote the recommendation letters, so I could attend the seminary, to study for my Master's Degree in Theology!

And, I have praised God and thanked Him,...for them, both...and, the two who were the catalyst for the move...and, that auxiliary bishop...every single day, since!

No comments:

Post a Comment