03 May 2014

A pilgrimage intention: From womb to tomb

Don't mind the random guy on the phone.
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting with an old friend from Quincy, Katie Pesha, who now serves as the Executive Director of Communications and Planning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. We met through Great River Teens Encounter Christ and formed a close-knit group of friends who gathered once a week at the home of the then coordinator of the movement and his family for food and fun.

We called ourselves the Tuesday Night Supper Club (for obvious reasons) and consisted of the husband and wife, their (at the time) six children (there are more now), and four of us youth from the TEC movement who also attended Quincy University. Twelve people - and sometimes more - gathered weekly around the dinner table for four years (and more) made for some great memories which I cherish. Even when we had to gather on a different day, we still called ourselves the TNSC (which worked out rather well if we gathered on a Thursday). Though we have not been able to gather all of us together at one time in several years, we do try to get together at least a few times a year because of our lasting friendship, though it is never frequently enough.

Katie came to Rome as part of a pilgrimage from St. Louis to take part in the celebrations surrounding of the canonization of Saints John XXIII and John Paul II and, in the midst of her various interviews, we had a great and enjoyable visit.

Yesterday I saw that she wrote of her pilgrimage intention in the St. Louis Review, the Archdiocesan newspaper. After writing movingly of the loss of two of her children, Katie described a moment of grace she received the day after the canonizations in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore:
During the singing of "Ave Maria," the closing hymn at Mass, I choked. I felt a close connection to Mary. I was surrounded by beautiful images of the blessed Mother holding her precious baby boy, our Savior. I reflected on her pain as she watched her son suffer.
I united with her suffering a few hours later at the Scala Sancta (the Holy Stairs), as I climbed each of the 28 steps on my knees. I became grateful for Jesus' sacrifice that ensures my babies are in heaven. I prayed to God for the strength to accept His will. I heard the simple message that these children, as everything in life, were gifts: His to give and His to call home.
Although certain sadness always will remain, I am grateful. I am grateful for the short time I was able to carry these two precious souls in my womb. I am grateful that God has entrusted me with two beautiful children to raise here on Earth. I am grateful for the strength of my marriage. I am grateful for the countless family and friends who have supported us through trial. I am grateful for all the blessings in my life and those to come.
We must not allow our suffering to cripple us. Rather, our faith will guide us, just as it did for me during this pilgrimage. And now we have two new saints to look to as examples.
I'm very proud of her and encourage you to read the rest of her article. Her message of faith and hope is a beautiful reminder in these days of Easter. You can also follow her on Twitter @kpesha.

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