I received this wonderful news from one of our parishioners who wanted to share her joy with others. Here is her story :
Good evening, Sayedna. I always hesitate in writing to you out of respect for your busy schedule. However, this Easter blessing is one that may be of assistance to you in counseling those who pray for lost souls. To fully appreciate its significance, you need to know the background information.
I am a love child; my mother turned 16 one month prior to my birth. Back then, a pregnant teen posed scandal for the family. Since abortion was illegal in the US, they offered to send her out of the country, but she was defiant (thank God!). She dropped out of Catholic school and lived with an aunt until the end of the pregnancy. I was born in Doctor’s Hospital in Manhattan. My mother was placed in a ward with other women in the same situation. All were encouraged to consider placing their children up for adoption. My mother remained defiant. At that time, NYS law mandated that I be placed in foster care until my mother could provide proof of employment in order to financially support me. Meanwhile, her family moved to a new neighborhood where they concocted a plausible explanation for a teen with a child.
One week after my birth, my mom and her step father stopped by a church in NYC to have me baptized before relinquishing me to foster care. After a serious employment search, she was hired by Scandinavian Airlines System and I was returned to her and my family, several months later. While working for SAS, she dated a man who proposed marriage. He had been raised by non practicing Lutherans who never had him baptized. My mother being Catholic, wanted to be married in the Catholic Church. I was 8 at the time. They met with the parish priest who insisted that my future father raise me in the Catholic faith. He agreed. Two years later, he formally adopted me.
Over the years, he would join us for mass at Christmas and Easter but never made any commitment. Meanwhile, I began to pray for him, asking our Lord that he be baptized. While working for IBM, one of his coworkers became a Baptist minister. My dad considered becoming a Baptist but realized that such a decision was predicated upon his admiration for the man and not the faith. My prayers continued.
Two weeks ago, following a funeral at St. Ann’s, my mother called to say my dad had asked to be baptized .. a Catholic! Sayedna, I broke down in tears. Beginning at age 10, I had prayed for this day and now, 56 years later, that prayer had been answered. My dad is 82 and, for now (he will have knee replacement surgery in May), confined to a wheelchair. Since he could not go to the church, the priest came to him. He met privately with my dad for about 30 minutes before the ceremony. My daughter and I were his witnesses. He received the 3 sacraments of initiation and chose Francis as his Confirmation name. The priest explained that he had been ordained 22 years ago and this was his first home baptism.
Please feel free to share this story with those who are beleaguered by what they perceive to be unanswered prayers. Yesterday, for the first time in 56 years, I sat down with my family and we discussed the Catholic faith, a topic that had previously been forbidden. I gave my dad several gifts – something like a Catholic “starters kit.” This included a youth handbook on the Catholic faith. Here is a photo from the big day. May this tremendous gift serve as an inspiration to those who have abandoned hope.