Family: My husband Francis passed away in 2009. I have two daughters and two sons – Joann (Dick) Shepard of Indianola; Jean (Terry) Briggs of Rochester, Minn.; Ray (Peggy) Mottet of Fairfield; and Ken (Mary) Mottet of Berwyn, Ill. I have six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Another great-grand is on the way in January. I’m making a quilt for him.
Parish: St. Mary, Fairfield
How old were you when you became aware of your Catholic faith?
I was aware of my Catholic faith from a very early age. My parents were good Catholics. We were members of St. Joseph at East Pleasant Plain and we were always at Mass on Sundays and holy days. We lived a distance from the church and roads and transportation were not the best back then, but we were always at Mass, novenas and holy hours – and of course all the social events. My parents taught us our prayers and we always said the rosary as a family every evening after supper during Lent and October. I attended catechism classes regularly at St. Joseph.
How does your faith impact the decisions you make?
My faith definitely impacts my decisions. From little on I learned that when faced with a task I should give it my best and stay with it until the job was finished. Decisions are prayed over to help me know how to proceed. Last year the Methodists here in town made a labyrinth in their church yard and anyone is invited to walk it anytime. I have done it several times when faced with problems and it is always helpful to spend time with God there. When I was in eighth grade a priest advised me, “Don’t think of going to college. It might make you proud and you would lose your soul. Just get married and save your soul through childbearing.” I followed his advice innocently, but after I married and had children I began to question it and I regretted not having gone to college. So I have tried to educate myself through reading, workshops, travel and other ways.
How do you pray?
I pray in various ways: contemplative meditation, daily reading from “Give Us This Day,” the labyrinth and lots of one-liners I offer up to God during the day. In our parish we have Eucharistic adoration and I do my hour there being with God.
What Scripture passage or stories inspire you?
My favorite Scripture passage has always been the story of the Prodigal Son. It dates back 40 years or more when I saw on public TV a dramatization of it by two men. A tall, well-built man portrayed the father and a smaller man was the son. At the end of the story when the father welcomes his son back home, the one playing the son gave a mighty leap toward the father figure who caught him and held him in his arms, close to his heart for a long moment as the camera faded out. It made a profound impression on me. I hope someday to be held in the arms of God in heaven. I don’t think I can make a leap though.
Who has been a model of the Catholic faith in your life?
I have always been inspired by the faith and dedication of Father Marvin Mottet – and not just because we are family. As I grew up in the Church in the 1930s and ‘40s, the emphasis seemed to be a fear of God and keeping the numerous rules. I never heard that God loved me, so life was a burden to me. In 1977 Fr. Mottet and Sister Mary John Byers prayed over me for more than an hour of healing of memories and it made a profound difference in my life. I felt that my life turned around 180 degrees and I was filled with the joy of the love of God. I am deeply grateful for those two for helping change my life.
How has your Catholic faith helped you deal with life’s challenges?
During the Second Vatican Council The Catholic Messenger printed each of the documents in entirety as they were promulgated, as well as all other deliberations. We read them all eagerly, which helped our growth in faith. In my day to day life I lean hard on God to get me through. I took care of my husband for four years when his health failed. I couldn’t have done it without God’s help.