Continuing on our blog series, the following was provided by an anonymous parishioner. The theme of this story focuses on the Holy Spirit, and how sometimes the Spirit may direct actions that help another individual. In this story, there are themes of charity and perspectives on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is offered at St. Anne on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9:00 a.m.
One evening, I was leading a Youth Faith Formation group at St. Anne. One of the exercises was for each student to cite an instance where they served another person or where they were served by another, and then relate the “feeling” that corresponded. Each of the students cited an example of how they served others. The last student to speak, sitting to my left, spoke very quietly and explained of a time when neighbors brought food to her house and how grateful her family felt.
I immediately sensed that there was some type of need. With my professional coaching experience, and importantly, my involvement with Saint Vincent de Paul, I felt that there might be a real need. But I also believe that I was guided by the Holy Spirit to ask the student if she would talk with me after the class. When we talked, I learned that the family faced several hardships. Knowing that the student had been driven to St. Anne by her Mom, I asked her to ask her Mom whether or not she would be willing to share more information, so that St. Anne’s ministries could help them best.
The mother came in and shared that their house was in a foreclosure, the husband was not living at home, and that family income was insufficient to care for her and her three children. She lived in a nearby city and was not a member of St. Anne. The mom agreed to attend Career Coaching for help in finding employment and job search support. She also agreed to meet with me and another ministry member of Saint Vincent de Paul (SVDP). There was no doubt in my mind that the Spirit was at work in opening hearts and doors.
Both meetings took place. A mentoring plan and a support plan were developed, enthusiastically agreed to, and put into practice. Finances and well-being are slowly improving for the family. There have been follow- up visits and phone calls for encouragement as well as guidance on several occasions. As part of the SVDP ministry, we also provided family assistance from a fellow parishioner who is an attorney. He accompanied me on a home visit to review some past financial transaction documents that the couple had executed. His focus was to determine the impact of these questionable financial documents/agreements. The attorney suggested to the mother some steps that she needed to take, and how to take these steps. He helped her understand what the real financial considerations were; provided encouragement, and offered additional pro bono legal counseling to her.
After the mom and I met a few times, with discussions about the St. Anne family and the Spirit being active at St. Anne, the mom did attend a new member registration and is now an active parishioner.
The journey continues. She, additionally, shared that she had not been to reconciliation in 15 years. After sharing with her my own experience with Father Bob and how he administered the Sacrament of Reconciliation in an encouraging and loving manner, she decided that she wanted to receive the sacrament. She joyfully shared this experience with me after she had received the sacrament.
I believe that there were too many “coincidences” to be just that. I believe that the Holy Spirit guided many of the conversations, starting with the student offering her story at Youth Faith Formation. If we listen, the Spirit can guide us to see, hear, and do things that might have been beyond our usual view of our busy lives.