Let me begin by saying that I am a very blessed person, beginning with my Catholic Italian heritage. This blessing begins with my grandmother, Angelina Fera, right down to my present family. My six children, sixteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren are the greatest blessings.I was born eighty-five years ago, October 25, 1929, bringing in the Great Depression of the 1930s. That was a blessing, believe it or not. Because of the Depression, my siblings and I learned to appreciate our Catholic faith and how to enjoy life even as a poor family. And we never knew we were poor. Looking back at my early years at home, I really appreciate “formation.”
Social and spiritual formation is what you learn from your parents, grandparents, and your elderly relatives. Diakonia: to serve. As I look back at my early years, I’m beginning to realize that I was in the midst of learning to serve as Jesus served and not even knowing that I was a servant. I now know what it means to reach out and serve others as Jesus did while on earth.
Our education began at home for us. My parents helped us with our daily prayers, and also our Latin prayers, and to believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist—all through example. We learned to serve others by what and how my parents served in their own way. My parents demonstrated an understanding of God’s graces and what it takes to make it through the day. “One day at a time,” my mother would say. “If it’s God’s will . . . .”
My early home life experiences taught me how to reach out as Jesus did and be open to all people of all ages, regardless of their nationality or faith. As St. Paul writes in Hebrews 3:13: “Encourage each other daily while it’s today.”
We are called today to serve our family in our home and in our parish community. Through our baptism, we are called to bring Jesus to the world through the gospel. As Pope Francis tells us, go out into the streets and proclaim the Good News of the gospel.
Currently, I join arms with Catholic Christians to bring the gospel to nursing-home residents. I’m blessed to share the Eucharist and give blessings to individuals at a time in their lives they could not otherwise receive.
As I now minister to the elderly in the nursing homes and to shut-ins, I thank God for my blessing of family and a good and fruitful home life.
“Here I am, Lord. I come to serve.”