(Editor’s note: With this week’s Catholic Messenger being published on Thanksgiving Day, we asked three members of the Diocese of Davenport to reflect on gratitude.)
By Deacon Terry Starns
I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that I have been married to my best friend for 41 years. I am thankful for having four beautiful daughters and for them giving me four beautiful grandchildren. I am thankful that after working almost 50 years in the Public Works field I could retire from that and go into full-time ministry. I am thankful to be able to move back to Iowa and live in Blue Grass. I am thankful to be able to serve as Parish Life Coordinator for St. Andrew Parish. I am also thankful to be able to serve as the Director of Diaconate for the Diocese of Davenport.
But, I am most thankful to have my faith. To be able to worship a God who uses the Spirit to guide my life is amazing! I have a God who gave his only Son and guarantees me that if I believe in him I will not die but will have eternal life! Truly a thankful year indeed!
By Shirley Van Dee
What I am most thankful for in my life: first of all, I have been so blessed to have been given the opportunity to work hand in hand with our wonderful loving God. To praise him in community and in silence. To be touched in my visits to hospitals and homes by the faith shared there and seeing the face of God in all I meet.
God has especially blessed me with good health and stamina to be able to continue my journey of serving far into my senior years. I have five very special children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all of whom fill my life with joy. My days are filled with the many friends who have touched my life along life’s way in the wonderful parish of Ss. Joseph & Cabrini and who daily give me the hope and strength to carry on.
Thank you, heavenly Father, for blessing me with your goodness.
(Shirley Van Dee is parish life coordinator of Ss. Joseph and Cabrini Parish of Richland and East Pleasant Plain.)
By Sr. Lynne Elwinger, OCD
Writing a little piece about what I am grateful for this past year seemed fairly easy until I tried to begin. It quickly became overwhelming — so many causes for gratitude and where to even start! Finally (with deadline approaching), I noticed that these items roughly fit into a few categories. First, I am grateful for the many things we often take for granted — shelter, food, clothing and even family and friends and companion animals. The refugee situation around the world brought this poignantly to mind.
The next grouping pertains to those unexpected good things, the surprises I enjoyed. Nature’s heart-warming treasures and creatures, gifts, people’s kindness in rescuing and dealing with refugees fleeing with nothing but the clothes on their backs, the basic goodness of many people. These were some of the unexpected surprises.
Then, on a personal level, I am grateful for a successful hip replacement surgery and a wonderful community who literally helped me to get back on my feet. Embracing all of the above is my gratitude for our incomprehensibly loving God, who is always with us and for us, beckoning us onward, supporting every attempt — however tiny — to deepen and strengthen that relationship. I am grateful for the hope and promise our future together holds!
(Sr. Lynne Elwinger, OCD, is prioress of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Carmelite Monastery in Eldridge.)