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Category: Hunger & Housing
Start Date: December 27, 2018
Running for the Poor!
This is my fundraiser for Team Our Lady of the Angels 2019 campaign. Please help me reach my goal and help this great cause!
Team Mission of Our Lady of the Angels will be fundraising through the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle!
Mission of Our Lady of the Angels exists to provide material and spiritual support to the West Humboldt Park, Chicago- one of the most challenged neighborhoods in the United States. The Mission feeds about 1000 families a month, provides additional material and pastoral support to families, youth, and senior citizens, and, most importantly, brings the love of Christ to a neighborhood desperately in need of hope.
Funds will be used to complete the renovation of the Mission's new outreach center to the poor in West Humboldt Park, Chicago. The new outreach center will provide the very needed space for the Mission's donation storage/ distribution, a handicapped accessible kitchen/ dining room, meeting space for neighborhood and retreat groups, and a 60+ bedroom retreat center for volunteers and retreat guests.
Information about the Mission at www.missionola.com
Information about the outreach center renovation project at https://missionola.com/school.html
We need your help to complete this project! Be part of the miracle that is TEAM OLA!
The Mission is a 501(c)(3) and relies entirely on the donations of private donors.
Running for My Mother! Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Marytown
Mama was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in her late 20’s. MS is a life-altering condition in which there is no cure. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, muscular pain, bladder/bowel dysfunction, gait and coordination difficulties, blurred/double vision and cognitive impairments. As the disease progresses, many patients experience emotional or mental health issues, requiring further adaption and change.
By God’s grace, strong faith and a stubborn determination to keep the disease at bay mama spent many years living a productive, fruitful and independent life. Other than occasional fatigue, the disease was manageable for decades. For many years mama worked as a Corporate Benefits Manager for Sweetheart Cup Corporation after which she retired at the age of 52. The years following retirement were also filled with great blessings. Mama cared for Grandma and redirected her focus and energy towards the church and local community. Mama taught second grade religious education, served as a Eucharistic minister, supported children in foster care through CASA system, served at a local homeless shelter and visited the elderly at a nearby nursing home. Mama also became involved in Garden Therapy for seniors at the DuPage Convalescent Center in Wheaton. Over the years, mama felt the love of God working in her life especially regarding her condition. Mama was certain her prayers were being heard and answered. Mama’s had a simple request: to never lose her ability to walk and thus remain independent. Other than her inability to no longer drive a car, mama’s independence had been a great blessing from God. Many patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis are wheel chair bound at an early age, with some being confined to a bed.
As Christians we know that God is always in control and in His providential plan life as we know it can change in a matter of seconds. October 19, 2017 mama met with her Neurologist. The outcome of the annual visit was favorable. Other than the recent use of a cane for balance, there were no new symptoms or progression of those existing. As mama left the office she recalls the last words of the neurologist: “everything will be fine as long as you don’t fall and break your hip.” November 17, 2017, less than a month later, mama fell and broke her femur/hip. What followed was something mama was convinced would never happen. What followed was going to be the hidden and sometimes unforeseen blessings of unanswered prayers. After an extended hospital stay and eleven weeks living at a rehabilitation facility mama came home. Unfortunately having multiple sclerosis compounds the recovery process of any type of illness or injury. Many times it means an exacerbation of existing symptoms and or the progression of new symptoms.
Mama’s rehabilitation included learning to walk again and incorporating a modified way of swallowing. Mama also had to regain some of the cognitive impairments that resulted from the progression of the disease. Daily sessions of physical, occupational and speech therapy resulted in mama’s ability to walk short distances with a medical device and resume her favorite foods with slight swallowing techniques. Mama doesn’t remember much of what transpired over those months but I remember. I remember a strong and somewhat stubborn woman determined to walk again. And by God’s grace she succeeded.
So what is life like for mama since the fall? Mama is able to walk with a walker and move about within her home. Praise God. Mama is able to frequent the use of a restroom with assistance. Praise God. Mama is able to eat and drink with slight swallowing modifications and under supervision. Praise God. Mama graduated from a hospital to a regular bed. Praise God. Mama is able to shower with assistance. Praise God. However, she sure misses those nightly bubble baths. Mama is no longer able to cook yet has her own personal chef. Praise God. Mama is no longer able to clean or manage daily chores, yet has a cleaning person. Praise God. Mama is no longer unable to putter in the garden, yet has a gardener. Praise God. Mama is no longer able to dress herself yet is still able to maintain her own sense of style through her fashionable hats. Praise God. Mama has difficulty reading yet still has the gift of hearing and being read too. Praise God. A favorite pastime, Mama is still able to travel but requires time to prepare. Does the hotel have handicap rooms available? Praise God. Mama is able to visit friends and family but must be concerned with wheelchair accessibility and mobility considerations.
For mama, life now means complete dependence upon others to care for her daily needs and participation in the many activities she once enjoyed. The life mama once had changed in a single instant when she tripped on a curb. How often many of us take for granted the tasks we perform daily without any thought. How often we take for granted the brief moments we have to ourselves. How often we take for granted that we can take care of simple and mindless tasks without the help of others? Unfortunately, the realities of living with the progression of Multiple Sclerosis can strip the person of such independence.
However, if you asked mama about the changes in her life her reply would be far from any complaining, sadness or yearnings for her life of independence. “Growing in holiness requires more than having faith in God. We must also willfully embrace suffering, ‘the crosses’ that befalls upon us as part of God’s plan. Christ does not desire our faith alone, but our faith in action which includes faith in suffering.” (Phil 1:29).
Jesus carried out His mission through the cross. He suffered physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually and all out of pure love and will of His father. Mama’s strength and courage comes from our Lord. Through the Holy Eucharist “Jesus’ grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in weakness. If we are weak, we are strong in Christ.” (2 Cor. 12:9-1). Fortitude, a gift of the Holy Spirit eases the burden to bear the sufferings of our crosses. As Christians, we know life is full of suffering, trials and tribulations, all of which we have to endure as we make our journey home to God. However, it is through these hardships in which we make reparation for our sins and those of others. “Peter warns us that we may have to suffer various trials. Peter does not want us to be discouraged by this reality, but understand that such suffering purifies us and prepares us for union with God.” 1 Peter 1:6. Many of the saints willingly embraced suffering and most prayed for it.
Today, society finds it difficult to understand suffering from an all good and loving God. Today’s culture seeks worldly pleasures and comfort. Today’s culture has forgotten who Jesus is and what He came to do. Today’s culture has forgotten what Jesus taught. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23). Sadly, today’s culture has buried the cross. Today’s culture has forgotten that without the cross there is only death of which there can be no salvation.
At some point in life everyone will experience suffering in one form or another. There are the crosses of poverty, illness, broken relationships, separation from loved ones through death, job loss, etc. However there is beauty to be found in suffering for it’s a sharing in Gods great plan to redeem the world. When we endure suffering with a joyful spirit we partake in the cross of Jesus. When we offer up our suffering and sacrifice we share in salvation for others. We suffer because we love Christ. What a wonderful purpose and meaning suffering gives to each one’s live if it accepted and offered up. Being a disciple means to be Christ like. Nothing else makes us more like Christ, than the cross. Suffering well can also mean strengthening, developing, and molding us for something greater that we will be called upon to do by our Lord later in life. Or it’s an opportunity to be in the right place at the right time to do God's work. Perhaps we meet someone in a doctor's office that we would not have met otherwise. It is through Divine Providence that we met this person either for their benefit, ours or countless other people whose lives we will never know or meet. Think of the impact one encounter can make on a whole group or better yet generation.
Hard as it may be to accept, suffering is a gift from God. It is through suffering in which we become most united to Christ Crucified. To place the cross in front of our life and leave the world behind means to trust in the one who gave us life. The way of the cross is one that leads to trust in Jesus and His plan of salvation. It is the way to the one who promises the way to the fullness of life and true happiness. Our Sorrowful Mother Mary was the first disciple to suffer from her ‘yes’ to the Angel Gabriel to Calvary where she remained with her Son at the foot of the cross.
If you asked mama which life is easier, more comfortable, more pleasurable, before or after the fall, she would obviously say before. However, if you asked mama which life has increased her faith and trust in our Lord? United and conformed more fully to the image of Christ? Is less self seeking and more Him seeking? Is helping bring others to Christ and aiding in their salvation, and will bring about her salvation? Mama would most certainly say life after the fall.
In retrospect the fall has been one of mom’s greatest blessings. Life after the fall has brought her in closer relationship with her family. Life after the falls has brought mamma to daily mass, time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration and frequenting the sacraments of Christ’s Holy Church. How valuable to the soul is the life of grace given through the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. How valuable to a soul are the intercessory prayers offered for the salvation of souls. How valuable is the morning offering prayer in which pain and suffering are offered up to our Lord for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Life after the fall means prayers and sacrifices for Holy Priests, a Renewal and Sanctification of the Catholic Church instituted by Jesus Christ and special dedication to St. Joseph. Being born on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows, life after the fall has brought about a special devotion to Our Blessed Mother and a wonderful opportunity to become an advocate for the unborn through the 40 days of Life Campaign. Life after the fall is good because God is good all the time.
Let us never lose sight of the grace and blessings that come through the cross. After all, the worst of all suffering was aligned with the most beautiful and fruitful event in all of human history. We call it Good Friday. Jesus suffered death on a cross; a tragedy in which good came about. It was through the unconditional love and self-sacrifice of one Man in which the gates of Heaven were opened for all who choose to take up their cross and follow Him.
Mama, may you continue to rejoice and persevere in your sufferings knowing it produces endurance, which produces character which produces hope (Romans 5:3-4) so that when our Lord calls you home you can say with St. Paul “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
I love you to Heaven and Back.