If you could write a letter and heal a man two continents away, would you write the letter? If you could describe how a Priest stood by you as your child fought for their lives and offered you The Peace of Christ, with words, would you share them, in hopes of healing others? If you could offer encouragement to a Priest who ministered in Africa and was lonely and discouraged, and you lighten his load, would you write the letter? Submit online at www.letterstopriests.com
Monday, April 19, 2010
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"Angels" come in emails!!!!
Lukasz Wieczorek is a gifted web designer who recognised a great project needing support in technology. He volunteered to work with us. He is fantastic and will help with the book cover, blog, and videos. Visit our new site. You will agree we needed a little help. Anne and Teena www.letterstopriests.com
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
When I lost my two and a half year old son Nathaniel due to a set of uncontrollable circumstances, my faith and my life were shaken to its core. Losing Nathaniel went against every grain of fiber of my innate nature as a parent to protect and was an agony beyond anything I could ever have imagined.
I remember shortly after coming home from the hospital and having the arduous task of facing my son’s empty room. The void was undeniably tangible and louder than life. It was not long after this I ran to the Sacrament of Reconciliation saying to the available priest, Father Bob, “Father forgive me because I don’t think I believe in God any more.” This dear Priest’s words to me were a life line. “My dear child,” he said, “the fact that you are even questioning the existence of God is proof of your your belief in Him.”
His words gave me solace and the permission to seek and ask questions about my situation which included questions about my faith without feeling guilty that to ask these questions was something that was wrong. As any parent who has lost a child knows, the grieving process is not always a clear cut process. It can tumultuously affect the body, mind, emotions and spirit in varying ways and degrees.
One of the means in which I sought answers to the questions of my grief and trauma was through the reception of good counsel with a licensed professional trained in the area of grief and trauma while maintaining my involvement with my church. Then in time my heart, unbelievably so, began to heal and I wanted to give back to others the knowledge and love I received through my own struggle. Within me grew a desire to write a spiritual narrative of the grief process based on the Seven Sorrows of Mary and the Cross which I titled: It Doesn’t End Here: An Amazing Journey of Faith and Forgiveness.
I remember during the process of writing It Doesn’t End Here and getting ready to go to the printer that it was important to me that what I had written honored God and was not just a book that recalled a tragedy for tragedies sake. I believed that what I had written would be nurturing to one’s spirit but I needed confirmation from someone I respected. Then came Father Will.
Father Will was new to our church and I remember hearing his homilies and thinking to myself “where on earth did this priest come from?” His homilies spoke directly to my soul and moved me to love Jesus Christ and His church more deeply. I knew that I wanted him to read my work but I was frightened by the doggone fear "rejection." So I let myself be frightened and called the parish anyway to speak to him. After briefly explaining my story line to him, this busy priest said he would gladly read my manuscript. I'm not sure why but I was shocked by his graciousness probably because he humbly took this on amidst many obligations.
It was not an overnight process in which he read my script nor was I expecting it to be so, but halfway through it he said something that blessed and encouraged me to press forward. He said that he was deeply compassionate for what I had been through, but that he almost felt bad to say this that he was really enjoying what I had written. Clutching the phone I jumped from my chair and said, "Father, this is the most incredible compliment I could ever receive." Father continued reading my script and got back to me about a month later with enthusiasm for the project and a stamp of approval.
What a gift Father Will had given to me to entrust himself with my work because it was especially dear to my heart for my son’s and his mother’s sake. Still Father's graciousness did not end here. He said Yes, when I asked if he might write the Forward of It Doesn’t End Here. Thank you Father for journeying with me through part of this amazing process. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Sincerely grateful to the Priesthood!
Dawn Marie Roeder
Monday, April 12, 2010
Dear Fr. Tom,
“Being present and being there…for a lifetime”
This is a long overdue letter to thank-you for the profound impact you have had on my life over the 49 years you have ministered to me (and to my family) as a priest, an educator, a career counselor, a marriage counselor, and friend.
While I met you in my freshman year at Notre Dame High School (NDHS) in Niles, Illinois, I became a student of yours in junior honors American History. You were tough, demanding, and intimidating. And you became one of those teachers all students say changed their life. In the classroom, you taught us to view history not as a series of facts but as a series of convergences that led to historical change. You also stressed the need to stay knowledgeable about current events, pushing us to dig deeply for underlying convergences, drivers, and trends shaping the future. I thrived as you taught us to become critical and independent thinkers and left your class permanently changed. This was just the first of many impacts you would have on my life.
The next big impact that would be formative came later in junior year when you as my career counselor urged me to move outside my comfort zone and to run for Student Body President, an idea that never crossed my mind. You really believed in me as a student leader and did not want me to miss this growth opportunity. I was reluctant as past winners were star athletes and I was not…and it was known that this campaign already had two star athletes vying for the top job.
I followed your suggestion and ran. The campaign, like your history class, became another key formative experience. You gave me what proved to be critical advice on public speaking as I was about to give my “election” speech to the student body. I learned the value of being authentic, concise, and funny while delivering what you called the “meat and potatoes.” My talk lasted less than three minutes (compared to 20 minutes for each of the other candidates) and I received a standing ovation. You knew at that moment that I had won the election…which I did the next day with 76% of the vote. As a result of your gentle “push,” I learned about the responsibilities of leadership and the importance of clear and authentic communications.
Your special place in my life continued after high school – visits to the family home complete with Mass when I returned from the University of Notre Dame (UND); the special friendship you provided my fiance’ who had come from a non-Catholic background; your making it possible for us to be the first ever to be married in the NDHS chapel and the celebration of the wedding; my visits to UND after you transferred there to become the campus chaplain and a rector; visits while you studied at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley; our annual trip to Golden Gate fields to see the horse races (only $2 bets); many private Masses celebrated by you at UND including several in and under the Basilica; visits to the Grotto; meals at Corby Hall with you and other priests discussing the University, politics, the Mid-East, and God; family meals with your brother Frank and his family in Novato, CA; numerous meals with my family including brothers Phil, Jim, and John who also went to NDHS; our many long walks at Point Reyes; our nights in San Francisco to see Mama Mia and the San Francisco Symphony; and your 50th Jubilee at Notre Dame.
And there was the valley of darkness – your being there as the mother of my children chose another path leaving me at the age of 38 a divorced single parent. You visited, called frequently, prayed for us and with me, and did what you could with Fr. Virgil Cordano (Mission Santa Barbar) to encourage her to get some counseling. After two years of trying to repair the family, you provided very sound and critical advice on how to move forward. You then helped me focus on the welfare of my children and gave permission for me to grieve. As you said often, I learned a great deal about humanity during this period, particularly my own humanity, and what it meant to die in Christ. Your words were a source of great comfort.
Darkness ended when Patty, introduced to me by a doctor I was working with, came into my life in 1990, one month after my first visit to Medjugorje. You quickly welcomed her into your life and befriended Patty’s mom, Ida, and Ben. Their Italian heritage may have had something to do with the immediate bonding!
You were also there for me after my near fatal motorcycle accident in 2003. You were at the hospital soon after I was transferred out of the ICU.
One greatest shared achievement was going Medjugorje with a group out of Chicago organized by a friend of my sisters one month after 9/11. You were able to travel as the group’s Chaplain, thanks to my sister. We spent ten great days together - walking the vineyards and streets of Medjugorje; climbing Apparition Hill, and Mt. Krizevac (Cross Mountain); Mass; the evening Rosary; fasting; and lectures.
And then there was Laurie and her four-year old, Mark. Mark had had health problems since birth and Laurie had brought him to Medjugorje with the hope of a healing since he was due to have his 13th surgery upon his return to Chicago. You may remember that Laurie, early in the visit, decided to surrender to whatever God wanted and not continue her quest for a healing.
Even with Laurie’s total surrender, we decided it would be good if we could get Mark to visit with Vicka and we succeeded. She prayed over him. One month after our return Laurie called to say she had just been to Chicago’s Northwestern Medical Center, that Mark’s spine had healed and he no longer needed back surgery. His healing has become one of the documented healings of Medjugorje.
Another keen memory for me of Medjugorje was you passion to hear confessions. You spent time everyday preparing at 3pm to hear confessions at 4pm. You had a childlike excitement and told me that the miracle of Medjugorje was in the confessional. You told me that you really felt like the priest wanted to be and felt you were fulfilling your priestly function at Medjugorje, particularly when hearing confessions.
Our Lady has been intricately woven into the fabric of our journey – Notre Dame High School, the University of Notre Dame, and Medjugorje. She has been guiding me, strengthening and renewing our bond, and impacting my life and the lives of I love. She has been present every step of the way, and has been there to help me grow in Christ….just as you have been.
Thanks for being present to me and those I love, and for being there for me when I needed that spiritual push.
Thank-you, Fr. Tom, and may God’s love continue to shine on and through you,
Thomas M. Loarie
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Thank you for what I will call “drive by therapy”. I did not have the courage to talk to my parish priests. The shame was too great. I had reached a point I could no longer function in my job and broke down and cried during a business meeting. Tears just escaped my eyes as I admitted to a client I was filing for divorce. She immediately said; Go talk to Father Denis at St. Alphonsus. As God would have it, I broke down to a Catholic woman. She said, Father Denis can not be shocked, and he will not be judgmental. Two traits I desperately needed to tell my story. I called you from my car and you met me within a half hour.
An hour later you had you knocked me from my pedestal and guided me to my foundation. I confided in you my husband was having an affair, and the woman was pregnant. I have three children and could hardly breathe. I sat in my perfect business suit and let the walls come down. My life was falling apart, my bills were higher than I could handle on my own, and my husband had been sending money overseas and had another family. The betrayal was running me over on so many levels. You listened to every heart break and then you made me promise not to be dramatic during this crisis. I felt like standing on the table and screaming you think I am being dramatic, she is pregnant. My seldom used impulse control kicked in, and I let you continue to tell me, I needed to get through this with a calm exterior to show my children I had the strength to care for them. You then made me promise to go forward without drama, and to make the kids my number one priority.
Then you began to empower me with strength, and knowledge to make decisions without drama. You told me this actually happens often. It had nothing to do with my husband not being Catholic, it happens and some marriages can actually survive, but it is the most painful thing a marriage can experience. You told me not to even try to forgive my husband. Visualize myself as having been swiped across the face with a metal hand. The wounds are deep and bleeding. I needed to take time to heal from the inside out while showing courage to my children. I could do it, if I left the drama out and lived day by day caring for my wounds. I took three days off work, sent the kids to school. I laid in bed looking out the window and cried.
After three days, I got out of bed and slowly rebuilt my life. My divorce is final as of last week. Our marriage could not survive. You also told me marriages do not get to this way overnight, and yes you are right the marriage had been over a long time before. I had held out for the kids. If I had it to do over I would have worked on my marriage long before it blew up. It just seemed easier to focus on kids, job, perfect house, and the look of a happy household. I had let the relationship go; I had just never imagined it would blowup like this.
Thank you so much for seeing me that day. One hour of drive by therapy was a gift of a lifetime.
You know who I am, and now you know the gift you gave me.
for the Catholic people and for the community. Courage, faith and
support will be the woven fabric that we have received from our
priests in different times of our lives, especially times of crises,
which we hope to share with others.
We've received strength from faith to help us understand God's plan and to accept it. We want to share how we have been healed through forgiveness and understanding,
through our interaction with them so that we could live through our
personal struggles to live the life that Christ calls us to live
through the Church and her teachings.
Email me at email@example.com or visit http://www.linkedin.com/pub/anne-hughes/15/754/812, or send a letter to P.O. Box 482, Ada, MI 49301.
Live up to it,
Anne Hughes & Teena Adamick
Memorial: A letter in memory of Father Solanus.
Dear Father Solanus,
In March of 1941, I had an attack of iritis in my left eye. The discomfort was intense and stubborn. I was seen by a number of ophthalmologists as well as M.D.s at Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago. Clinical work revealed a low grade infection of undulant fever. I consulted a veterinary named Dr. Huddleson and began injections of a serum he had developed.
At one time during the iritis siege, my husband and I visited you when you lived in Detroit on Mount Elliot. We heard of the power of your prayers. You were very reassuring and prayed with us. You pressed your thumb on your tongue and then anointed my eyes and prayed for my recovery.
Our visit gave us hope. I didn’t experience instant recovery, but I did experience a gradual improvement, my sight was saved! Thank you Father Solanus!
Thank you for all the people whose lives you’ve touched with your patient listening, gentle counseling and loving prayers.
I believed then and I believed now that your were a holy man ordained by God to be a friend to His children.
With Loving Appreciation,
Dear Father Gilbert,
Teena told me that your health has improved and that you have a new assignment. I rejoice for you!
How can I express my gratitude for the help you have given Teena over the years? It’s a Herculean effort, but I want to try.
You were blessed with a call to the Priesthood and I thank God that you said “yes” to that call. Thank you!
How have you served since your Ordination? You have preached the “Word of God” to multitudes. Each time you celebrated Mass you gift your flock with the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
You dip into the Larder of Heaven as you bless your parishioners with the gifts of the other sacraments: Baptism, Penance, Confirmation, Marriage, the Blessing of the Sick and Ordination.
How have you served Teena? When she first met you the grounds of the monastery, she was blinded with grief, numb with her loss; her 17 year old son had died!
You spotted her sitting on the bench. You initiated a conversation. You encouraged her to talk. You listened. You counseled. You suggested that she return for another visit. Thank you, and thank God for your “being there” for her.
She consulted with you as a single mom as her other two sons grew to manhood.
Thanks you, Father Gilbert, for your wisdom and for your gentle, patient listening skills. The care you showered on our daughter is priceless, a gift from God. You were the instrument!
May God bless you and all your loved ones with His most precious gifts.
With Loving Appreciation,
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