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UNITY AND FORGIVENESS
The May/June 2018 Maryknoll magazine arrived the day the reading was from Acts 15:1–6, the story of Paul and Barnabas confronted by the Judaizers. Father Joseph R. Veneroso referred to this conflictual reality in his Peter versus Paul article, and how unity prevailed.
I was also deeply impressed with the student essay winners for 2017 on “taking a clear stand for creative and active nonviolence,” especially Tasnim Islam. Our world needs such energy and insight. Congratulations to Maryknoll for being open to winners who are non-Catholic. Christ is witnessed by truth and love in action more than mere denominational title.
In the Northwest Catholic recently, Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain wrote about “taking the high road in an age of terrorism and hatred.” He quoted St. John Paul II: “Forgiveness in fact always involves an apparent short-term loss for a real long-term gain. Violence is the exact opposite; opting as it does for an apparent short-term gain, it involves a real and permanent loss. Forgiveness may seem like weakness, but it demands great spiritual strength and moral courage.”
Thank you so much for another fine edition (May/June 2018). I especially appreciated your editor’s note in the Readers’ Responses, regarding Father James Martin‘s book Building a Bridge. We do need to focus on areas of commonality in our one world. Thank you for that. I also appreciated the article on Sister Angela Brennan and the middle double-page spread with Falmata Ari—such a valiant woman. Then, Tasnim Islam, who goes for “mutual respect,” another winner standing up for the values in which she believes, as well as working toward “alleviating Islamophobia!”
Sister Margaret Shield, CSC
In the May/June 2018 issue, Father Joseph R. Veneroso has outdone himself with the photo reflection “We may never know.” Those beautiful verses should be in every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day card, in every language. Most parents are taken for granted until the day when they are old, feeble and demented. The two people to whom we owe everything are the most underappreciated.
Doris E. Richard
SEEING OUR BLESSINGS
Sometimes we don’t see the blessings in front of us until it is too late. I sit here in prison, a victim of my own actions. I used to be mad at God. I thought he had forgotten about me. I felt unloved and unblessed. I was born in Colombia, South America, and raised Catholic by my adoptive parents. My father gave to Maryknoll for years. Many of the children in Maryknoll magazine looked like me. I should have been a success story. I almost was.
I joined the Navy and served honorably for nearly five years. While in the Navy, I married my high school sweetheart. We moved to Austin, Texas, and started a family. In spite of this, I felt lost. I don’t know why I fell into a depression. My marriage ended and I embarked on eight years of selfishness. But I loved being a dad. The only time I felt complete was when I was around my son.
At the age of 40, I was arrested for the first time in my life. I was arrogant enough to think I could go to court and talk my way out of it. In the midst of all this, I met another wonderful lady who had faith in me, loved and believed in me. I was convicted and sent to prison. Two months later my daughter was born.
I felt sending me to prison was the ultimate betrayal by God, and I wondered if there was a God. But during Bible study in prison, a volunteer told me a story of an elderly lady stranded by flooding in Louisiana, who kept refusing offers of evacuation. First she refused to leave when police came to help her, saying, “God will protect and save me.” When the water rose higher, she refused to get into a rescue boat, saying, “God will protect and save me.” Then finally, stranded on the top of her roof, she refused a harness from a rescue helicopter, saying again, “God will protect and save me.” She drowned, and when she entered heaven, she asked God, “Why didn’t you save me?”
God replied, “I sent you a police car, a boat and a helicopter.”
I thought about my life. What would God say to me? “I sent you parents to adopt you. I blessed you with love, two good women, and I blessed you with not one but two beautiful children. I didn’t forget about you. You forgot about me.”
I had forgotten. I forgot that I was saved from an orphanage in Colombia for a purpose. God intended a better life for me. I had failed. I had let go.
I am hoping I will be home soon. Our priest Father Ron Foshage brings me Maryknoll magazine and I read it every chance I get. I know I am guided to help the poor, to let every child know love, starting with my own, whom I write to every chance I can.
True love, I believe, is the ability to see the presence of God in everyone. I look at the children on these pages of Maryknoll and I think, “That was me.” But God saved me. They say the only way evil gets a foothold in this world is when good men do nothing. I am tired of doing nothing. You probably get many letters from prison, but I think I offer a unique perspective. Thank you for the magazines.