While the old African proverb that it takes a village to raise a child is true, it is equally true that it takes a parish to raise a Catholic. You are probably picturing one of our many adorable little parishioners of St. Charles but I am speaking here of myself, Antonia Fusco, very well passed that adorable age. You may know me as a lector and Eucharistic minister at the nine o’clock Mass or as a catechist. And while I’m actively involved in the parish today, it wasn’t always so. In fact, I was only Confirmed in 2017, when I came to St. Charles in a highly vulnerable state. I was mourning the passing of my father, a practicing Catholic, who breathed his last in my arms.
I had been away from the church for many decades; the last Sacrament I had received was Holy Communion, so Catholicism felt very new to me in 2017. Over the course of these past three years, you, my fellow parishioners, alongside Fr. Bill, Fr. Anselmus, Monsignor LoPinto, and Fr. John, have helped raise this Catholic in ways you might not have known. So in the spirit of gratitude, here’s what I have learned from you:
- “Belonging comes before believing” from Father Bill.
- We are one family of brothers and sisters from Fr. Anselmus.
- To act on the Word of the Gospel through service and participation from Kerin Coughlin.
- That the grace of God is poured out to us by letting others help you from the dear and late Frances X. Gates.
- An understanding of Jesus’s sacrifice through agape love from Monsignor LoPinto.
- The joy of giving thanks to God from Carmen Sala.
- How to commune through silence from Alicia Washington.
- The joy of serving our young parishioners from Maureen Pond.
- The fruits of the Holy Spirit, particularly faithfulness and kindness, from Donna Whiteford, Phil Murray, and Carol Hoefling.
- The Holy Spirit’s gift of constancy from Beth Liou and the fruit of gentleness from Margaret May.
- The saving love in receiving the Eucharist from Gail Meury.
- Focused devotion to our Blessed Mother from Mario Jadotte.
- That the gifts we are given are meant to be given away from Mike McGowan and Francis Chin.
- The power of praying the Holy Rosary with another person from Carol DeSantis Price.
- And that while you cannot fully understand the mystery of faith, it will fully transform you from Fr. John.
This partial list goes to show you that we are indeed what we eat—and while we cannot receive Holy Communion at this time, St. Paul reminds us: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). Thank you for sharing His light with me. Whatever happens during this pandemic and in its aftermath, “darkness cannot overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5)