Witnesses of Faith
It is an honor to be a part of this liturgy and I
thank you, Fr. Mannion, Fr. Schwab and Deacon Jim for the privilege.
My journey of faith began when I was 2 years old in
the hospital with a severe case of pneumonia.
The doctors gave up on me. They
told my mother to take me home to die. While
at home, my mother, a believer in prayer, prayed for days and hours -- the
Rosary, prayer cards--the whole bit. Well .... God granted her plea, I survived.
My journey in faith had a head start .... it was a good omen.
Being an altar boy in grade school was considered a
reward which included dusting the statues, the altar, and the Communion Rail
(Remember the covered rail?). My
tough little 8th grade nun thought my older brother was a super guy, but when
she asked me to be a server while in high school, I turned her down.
She became upset and said, "Your brother would never do that!"
She didn't know, it was my brother's advice not to get up early, serve Mass, and
rush off to school.
My journey continued through high school at DePaul
Academy, and away to college, and then my tours overseas in the service.
It was in the military that I overworked the power of prayer.
God's presence must have shadowed me through 2 wars.
To this day, my thoughts flash back to the many times my life has been
During the late 60's I must admit I experienced a
challenge to my faith. It took a
while to understand and accept the many changes in the Church.
But getting involved with
Our Lady of Hope has been a source of help and
support. When my wife and I became
members here, we found hospitality, friendliness, and acceptance.
When someone would say "Hello", it was like they had known you
for twenty years, and our volunteer activities have created a bond of friendship
that will last forever because it comes from our heart.
Most importantly, we feel a closeness to God here in the celebration of
One of my older remaining brothers passed away over
2 years ago and during his last days of life, he took my hand to say,
"Thank you for being my brother.,, I will never forget that.
So now I say..... Thank You, Our Lady of Hope, for your being my brother.
been asked to speak on -What my faith has meant to me and my family and
how Our Lady of Hope Parish has played an important part in my journey.
My name is Jay - my journey of faith started with the
teachings from my mother-grandmother-nuns and clergy during grammar school
and high school days.
My first crisis occurred when my first husband died
at the age of 26 - I was left with two tiny babies - Where was God at this
time? - It took a little while for my anger and self pity to lessen - then
I began to realize what a beautiful gift I had - the children - and God
was back in my life.
I met a handsome Irish fireman that I thought filled
the bill to be father and husband - but I worried how the little boys
would accept him - a visit to the fire house and ringing the bell on the
fire truck won the day with them.
Michael and I married - he adopted the 2 boys and we
adopted another child through Catholic Charities - we had one child of our
own all the children attended school and received the sacraments at Our
Lady of Hope. Their school
day began with mass and I joined them as often as I could - I was reaching
out for a stronger faith to bring me closer to God.
One of our children was diagnosed with a brain
disorder, schizophrenia - the illness was terrifying for all of us.
In her psychotic state she hallucinated about the devil - in
looking for answers we even thought she might be possessed - this illness
took us to a world we had absolutely no knowledge of and for 22 years we
have been educating ourselves by being in support groups with other
families spending time with patients and professionals - It is these
types of adversities that really bring you closer to God.
Michael and I attend daily mass as often as we can
and through the grace of God - our faith has become greater - our family
has grown stronger - and I can sincerely call the people at Our Lady of
Hope out best friends - I thank you for being such and important part of
our lives .
Father Mannion asked me to witness my faith, since I am a very literal
person, I went to the dictionary to fin the definition of
"witness"," and to the Bible to find
Witness: knowledge, evidence, testimony; someone who can give a
firsthand account of something. (Webster)
Faith: Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not
see. (Hebrews 11: 1)
am now going to give you my firsthand account of something I am sure of,
that I hope for, and something I am certain of, that I do not see.
I am certain that God sent his only son, Jesus, to
live fully as a human being, yet also fully God and therefore sinless.
I am certain that Jesus was crucified on a cross so that by
believing in him, my sins would be forgiven.
I am certain that I have received the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent
to me from God to live within me, waiting to guide and direct me whenever
I call on Him. I am sure that
by believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ that I will have eternal
is what my faith means to me, and now I will tell you how Our Lady of Hope
parish has played an important part in my journey of faith.
husband Jim and I have attended Our Lady of Hope for the past twenty
years. We began coming here
when we were both single and living next door to each other in Rosemont.
We were later married here, I went through the RCIA program, all
four of our children were baptized here and received many of their
sacraments. As parishioners
here, we have shared our lives with God and with all of you in times of
happiness, sadness, birth, death, moving into new homes, watching our
children grow, times of joy, and times of fear.
This parish is like our second home,
our second family; we have felt loved, cared for, and uplifted by all
of you. We have seen
firsthand in this parish people who love God with all their hearts, souls,
and minds, and who love their neighbors as themselves.
have grown as a Christian through my involvement in our parish.
I have seen Jesus through the eyes of the children in Religious
Education; I have been privileged to study, meditate, and proclaim the
Word of God as a lector, and for the past year have been a Minister of
Care. Every week, about ten
of us visit members of our parish who are sick, homebound, or for other
reasons are not able to come to Sunday Mass.
This ministry has helped strengthen my faith as I listen to,
converse with, and pray for others. I
have listened to the stories of their lives, and have seen people, who
despite hardships in their lives, have remained faithful, committed
Christian Catholics, These individuals, who have faced sickness, loss,
loneliness, and seemingly hopeless situations, have powerful faith that
keeps them going. As I share
conversation, fellowship, and the Holy Eucharist with these people, I feel
that I am the one who is abundantly blessed by our visits.
When I hear about the strength of character and the hope these
people have, it gives me a broader perspective on my life; how my little
daily crises are so insignificant, and just how blessed I am.
God gives strength, perseverance, peace, and hope to all those who
call on Him, and God's powerful love is lavished on those who are faithful
to Him. I have also seen a
living example of the early Christians in the other Ministers of Care. Although we all come from different backgrounds, have
different personalities, and possess different gifts, we all come together
as one Body of Christ, in one heart and mind.
still have a long way to go in my journey of faith. Although I continually try to follow God more closely, be
more Christ-like, a more loving wife and patient mother, I always seem to
fall back into my old, sinful, human ways.
Those are the times when I must rely on my faith: I need to cling
to God's promises; to seek God's perspective; to stay near God's people;
to remember God's past care for me; to trust in God's perfect plan; to
come to God in prayer, and to rest in God's presence.