"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
|Fernando Monica Daniel David|
My journey towards becoming a member of the Pauline family began about 4 years ago. Before I ever even interacted with the Paulines, my life of faith was pretty good. I grew up in a Catholic family. My family practiced a devotion to the Miraculous Medal, and I attended Catholic school. I married Fernando, a good Catholic man, and we have raised our three children to know and to honor our Lord. The Lord and His mother have always been a part of my life. Life was good, and I was finding my way.
Finding my way
In October 2012 I attended an Emmaus retreat in Florida. My mind and my heart were opened in an incredible way, and for the first time, I realized what a relationship with God and our Lady really meant. I felt like St. Paul, that I had been so blind to the reality of how good God had been to me, how blessed I really was, and how God's presence in my life had been so constant and so true. I was on fire! Like St. Paul, I wanted everyone to experience what I had experienced on this retreat. My heart was indeed burning within me. I had a strong desire to be a part of the Emmaus retreats, to bring the Lord and His love to the hearts of everyone that I could. I wanted to be involved. It appeared that I had found my way.
Just two months later, in December 2012, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, my daughter Christina was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She was 6 years old.
Finding The Way
Fr. Michael invited us to attend a Mass he said every few months at the Daughters of St. Paul convent in Jamaica Plain, MA. Here we met and interacted with the Daughters, with another Jesus Priest, and with the Pauline Cooperators. I was struck by the Pauline devotion to Jesus Master, Way, Truth, and Life. I needed Jesus with me, now, more than ever, to guide my way, to be my truth, and my life. As I prayed with the Paulines, I began to relate in an intimate way with our Blessed Mother. When I struggled to move forward and to face my trials, I remembered her Yes to the angel Gabriel. I asked her to accompany me through my doubts and trials, with her humble confidence in God's loving care. I asked her to teach me how to be a mother of a suffering child, and to stay close to me on this journey, as she did Jesus on his journey to the cross.
Fr. Michael invited Fernando and I, and our children, to consider becoming members of the Pauline Holy Family Group. At that time there was not an active group in the area, but Fr. Michael wanted to begin formation with us and with some other families he had met in his ministry. In January 2014, the Holy Family group started meeting, and soon after, with the support of my new Pauline community, my eyes were again opened like St. Paul's. A new journey of evangelization had now begun.
Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life....If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him..." (John 14)
To support Christina's healing, Fernando and I created a Facebook page, encouraging prayers for Christina, and a prayer board, where people could post their prayer requests. We were evangelizing and we didn't even realize that was what we were doing! We began a Monday morning rosary-making group. We did this in an effort to pray the rosary together with our community. A few months into the group, we saw a video about a priest in South America who was trying to raise funds to build a church. We wanted to support him, but we wanted to find a way to do this other than just sending a one-time check. We decided to use the rosaries we were making to help raise funds, and we have made more than 4,000 rosaries, which we sell for donations to help build this church. After we sent our first donation, I discovered that the church was being built in my hometown in Colombia, and is named after Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day was the date of Christina's diagnosis.
To find out more about Build the Faith, Inc, click here.
In June of 2016, my family began our postulancy in the Holy Family Institute. When this journey began, I did not know the way. How could anyone? I did, however, know The Way, and with Jesus and his mother by my side, I can trust that He will never abandon us. The Holy Spirit tells us to trust him, and that every single struggle and trial will bring the best out of ourselves if we let it. I have learned to trust Him, because I know Him. The Holy Family Institute formation has taught me that the best way to teach our children our faith is to lead by example. We need to put God first and devote ourselves to honoring Our Lady, growing our own faith, and then our families can grow along with us. I now feel like I am in a position to teach my children how to love and grow closer to God.
When this journey all began 4 years ago, I had wanted so much to be a part of the Emmaus retreats, but God's ways were not my ways. His ways brought me to where I am today, with the support of a community that continues to grow and to thrive. The Holy Family Institute has planned and held two successful annual Holy Family Retreats, we have helped with the YHOPE retreat (Young Heralds of Pauline Evangelization), and have also held Women and Men's retreats.
When we started Formation nights months ago, Fr. Michael taught us about Fr. Alberione's life. The Holy Spirit moved me to seek Fr. Alberione's intercession for the healing of Christina. It was a unique situation - my daughter needed a miracle to be cured, and Fr. Alberione needed a miracle to be canonized. This sparked the creation of the following prayer, and I invite you to pray with us and all our fellow Paulines. Jesus Master, be our Way, our Truth, and our Life!
|Monica with her daughter Christina|
Monica Lacouture is a loving wife and mother. She is a member of St. Julia's Parish in Weston, Ma. She and her husband are currently in the postulancy stage of entering the Holy Family Institute. Part of her mission within the Pauline Family is helping coordinate meetings and retreats for her fellow Holy Family Institute Postulants as well as other families. She is the president and founder of a non profit, Build the Faith Inc., whose mission is to help religious organizations and churches to find funding to complete their faith building efforts.