Catholics share stories of thankfulness - Catholic Courier

Catholics share stories of thankfulness

For this month’s viewpoints section the Courier invited diocesan catholics to share the reasons why they are thankful.
This year, particularly, I am grateful that my husband, Ken, survived a very serious heart operation and is able to be with me this year at Thanksgiving. I am also grateful for the love and support of my stepchildren for their father. I am thankful for my daughter and her beautiful family. I am thankful for health, peace where I live, enough to eat, a job and the chance to live my life with a wonderful, supportive husband.”

— Mary Moorhouse, Pastoral Center staff member

“A year ago, my sister, Mary Cherubim McMullen, passed away and less than a month later my mother, Shirley Layer, passed away. … My family has always been close and I was devastated. … Having been in youth ministry for many years, I just took it for granted that it was my job. However, when I most needed it, the Lord proved to me that what I had was not a job, but a ministry which resulted in so many friends and people I had come to know just being there for me. I was overwhelmed by the response from so many teens, parents and colleagues in ministry. … I am so thankful for all those who reached out their hands and hearts to not only me, but also my family. … I am thankful to God for showing me his love and also thankful for the outpouring of love that my family and I have received and continue to receive.”

— Robert Layer, youth-ministry coordinator, Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, Greece

“I am thankful for two families of Somali Bantu refugees and the little town of Bloomfield that resettled them. God’s energetic love is evident in the sacrifices of the team (made up of many faiths) and in the warm hearts of the refugees. We teach — and we learn so much. We give — and we receive so much. Just to hear a Muslim who barely speaks English say, ‘God bless you!’ — that’s thanksgiving!”

— Sister Diane Dennie, SSJ, pastoral administrator, St. Bridget/St. Joseph Parish, East Bloomfield

“The recent devastation of Florida, Haiti and other regions brought about by the hurricanes, I am thankful for the simple things in life. A healthy family, a beautiful home, the love of life in general are all things I may have taken for granted previously.”

— Janey Harper, Church of the Good Shepherd, Henrietta

“I am thankful for the ‘good health’ that my husband has been blessed with. In 1991 he was diagnosed with a debilitating form of cancer. Although the doctors were not hopeful, he opted to undergo a long, painful and life-altering series of chemotherapy. To the doctors astonishment my husband survived the treatments and 13 years later he is still doing well.”

— Eileen Messmer, secretary, Holy Family School, Rochester

“What am I thankful for: The wonderful care that God is giving to our granddaughter who joined him in her new life in March of 2001. Her illness, suffering and subsequent passing were hard to accept and understand. As time passes you notice the effects that having her here for a short time have had on the family. Sydney was and still is a blessing. We, as a family, thank God for having let us know our little ‘lady bug.’”

— Rose Niznik, Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick Parishes, Tioga County

“There have been instances over the past few years when I have become more aware of what I have rather than what I don’t have. Personal loss has encouraged me to focus on my family and friends’ company, whose worth is priceless.”

— Nicole Oliveri, counselor, Holy Family School, Rochester

“I am thankful for each day that I am able to visit the sick and homebound in our parish. To accompany our priests as they anoint the sick and the dying. The Holy Spirit guides me and is always with me as I bring the holy Eucharist to those who long for the Body of Christ. I am blessed and give thanks for these opportunities to share my gifts.”

— August Misiurewicz, parish visitor, St. John the Evangelist Parish (Humboldt Street), Rochester

“I am thankful for the wonderful life of my parents, Walter and Helen, who are now deceased. I learned so much about unfailing love and giving. My parents gave me the greatest gift of all — my faith. I am also so thankful that my mother, who died last November, taught me that what was most important in life was my relationship with God. In the joys and sorrows of life, she taught me to go to God in gratitude and to find comfort.”

— Ann Marie Lasinski, pastoral minister, Holy Family Parish, Auburn

“I thank God for guiding me to the doorstep of Catholic Charities of Livingston County this year. I am so fortunate to have found a career where my experience can serve the needs of the poor and needy. This service, along with the dedicated staff here, energizes me daily.”

— Joseph DiMino, executive director, Catholic Charities of Livingston County

“I am newly grateful for the gift of migraine headaches that render me helpless for a day for two every couple of months. They also heighten my awareness that every moment of time, every sensory experience — everything — is a gift, not ‘entitlement,’ not ‘my right.'”

— Sister Martha Pavelsky, MHSH, catechetical leader, St. Patrick’s, Mount Morris/Holy Angles, Nunda

“In times of despair like these, with the growing hatred of America around the world for the deadly war in Iraq … I look for small things to be thankful for … my new son agonizing over taking his first steps, and the ever-growing love for him in my heart, and in the heart of my family.”

— Becky Olsen, diocesan Office of Communications

“I am thankful for my husband. The reason I am thankful for my husband is because he loves the Lord more than anything in the world. His love for the Lord allows him to love our five children and I in a way that we all feel secure. He always tells us he loves us, and more importantly he always shows us he loves us. He is a great provider, the best husband, a wonderful father and most importantly he is always seeking to do God’s will.”

— Mary Laurey, Abstinence Only director, Schuyler office, Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier

“On Feb. 29 of this year I had my son, Caleb Frederick. He was born three months early and weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Things were ‘touch and go’ — his life hung in the balance. First and foremost, I am thankful to God for touching our lives and allowing the miracle of his good health. I am also thankful for my friends and co-workers who have been supportive through my pregnancy and since he was born. The time I needed was demanding — and I wouldn’t have been able to take care of things by myself. Lastly, I am exceedingly grateful for Daystar — the place my son spends his time while I am at work. Caleb is now 8 months old, 18 pounds, and very happy and healthy. God smiled on us and made my dreams come true. I am grateful.”

— Cheryl Shepard, program supervisor, Catholic Charities Community Services, Rochester

“So much to be thankful for! Specifically , I am thankful for the many faces that I see around here that speak to me of God’s love and care. There are so many occasions when individuals, young, old, long-time residents, new neighbors from Kenya, give evidence through their smiles, visiting, giving of food, giving their time, their listening ear, strong hands — their presence. Thankful that God is giving them the love, strength, insight into how we let God’s love be known, be real in our place at this time. Through them God speaks and love grows. I give thanks!!”

— Sister Elizabeth Conheady, SSJ, St. Bridget/St. Joseph Parish, East Bloomfield

“I am thankful for the dignity of geese stopping the traffic to cross Elmwood Avenue and the agility of the squirrels on my early morning walk; for my conversion to Catholicism and our beautiful sacraments; for the purring of my kitten as she sleeps on my chest; for the Holy Ground at Mercy Prayer Center and all those who share our journey; … for the opportunity to serve as a laywoman and be respected and acknowledged; for the ability to see, walk, talk; … for memories of my lifelong friend killed on 9/11 when her plane crashed in Shanksville, Pa., and the support of the people in Shanksville; for the joy of giving to the poor, and the privilege of having lived in the Third World in Central America and having traveled to the Middle East and to Europe; for the glory of music; and for the miracle of birth and the holiness of a peaceful (hospice) death, because all of these are a mere sampling of the glorious blessings our Creator God showers upon us.”

— Barbara Smullen, pastoral associate, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Rochester

“I am grateful for the faculty, students and parents who make up St. Rita School faith community. Three hundred fifty teachers and students who can sit in the gym in silent prayer plus parents who choose our school for faith development along with knowledge make me thankful that I am a Catholic school principal.”

— Sister Katherine Ann Rappl, RSM, principal, St. Rita School, Webster

“I am thankful that God introduced me to my wonderful and loving husband, Matt. I am thankful for the love and friendship that we share that has enriched both of our lives. I admire him for so many reasons; his faith in God and his willingness to share it with others is inspiring. I am a better person because of Matt, and I am blessed to have his unconditional love and support. He is truly my greatest gift from God.”

— Jennifer Hinton, Guardian Angels Parish, Henrietta

“I’m very thankful for my family. I love my family very much. Lately we’ve been stronger and more supportive, very close. Since we lost my brother we have been very sad, but we are happy we still have each other.”

— Ryan Posadni, sixth-grader, St. Charles Borromeo School, Greece

— Christina Seger, sixth-grader, St. Charles Borromeo School, Greece

“I am thankful for my parents because I am able to talk to them about anything. They also encourage me to use my talents in many different ways.”

— Nick Newhart, sixth-grader, St. Charles Borromeo School, Greece

“I’m thankful that my brother didn’t go to the war in Iraq because he could have died. Another thing I am thankful for is my dad because he has helped me through hard times and he has always been there for me.”

— Melissa Zorij, sixth-grader, St. Charles Borromeo School, Greece

“My loving family, friends, good health, a strong faith and a new job in a compassionate and supportive work environment where I feel I can make a difference, are just a few of the things I’m thankful for!”

— Michael T. Gehl, director, Catholic Charities of Schuyler County

“I am thankful to God for faith. It is faith in a merciful God that allowed me to care for my terminally ill husband. It is faith in a loving God that opened my heart to love again. It is faith in a forgiving God that helps me to move past the hurts that I have been dealt. It is faith in a radiant God that brightens the shadows that sometimes darken my path. It is faith in an eternal God that keeps my earthly life in perspective.”

— Valerie Collins, Good Shepherd Catholic Community, Moravia

“I am most thankful for my mother, Jean Mercadel. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer 1 1/2 years ago, after living a very healthy life. She has shown me how helping others and trusting Jesus Christ as my Savior can get you through the toughest times. She has shown me unconditional love, and I honor her as my mother, my angel, my friend, my strength and my hero. I thank God every day for my mother.”

— Christina Mercadel, Guardian Angels Parish, Henrietta

“As newlyweds, my husband and I served together in India with the Peace Corps. I am deeply grateful for that experience — through it, I learned to love the precious global body of Christ and discovered the need to work for global solidarity.”

— Kathy Dubel, justice-and-peace coordinator, Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier

“What I am most thankful for is my son, Michael, who was born on Thanksgiving day 1993. He is my husband’s and my only child. He completed our love and we became a family.”

— Mary E. Greenblatt, diocesan office of Evangelization & Catechesis

“I am thankful for my loving family. Some people have only a dad or just a mom. I have two parents and two ‘sometimes wonderful’ brothers! A lot of kids are only-children, but my brothers keep me from being bored. Although they can get under my skin, I’m still grateful for them.”

— Gabriella Ferrera, sixth-grader, St. Ambrose School, Irondequoit

“I am thankful for my parents because they both are a lot of fun and have great personalities. My mom plays tennis with me. It’s so much fun that neither of us cares who wins or how we are playing. My dad and I play football in the house. We made up some games to play with the football. My parents are great people. I love them.”

— Sam Cotton, sixth-grader, St. Ambrose School, Irondequoit

“I am thankful because I have Mom and Dad. Some children don’t have moms and dads.”

— Gianna Santillo, first-grader, St. John the Evangelist School, Spencerport

“I am thankful for the Army because they are keeping us safe.”

— Mitchell Henshaw, first-grader, St. John the Evangelist School, Spencerport

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