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Humble Models of Faith and Devotion

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By Marc Massery (Oct 21, 2019)
By Marc Massery

Years ago, in the small town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, little Anne Gardon, who was one of 11 children, would escape the chaos of her crowded home and walk a few blocks to spend some time alone with her Great Aunt Theresa and Great Uncle George.

Aunt Theresa and Uncle George had left a life of farming to retire near the city, closer to Anne's family. "Even when they moved to where I lived, they had a huge garden. I remember going in there, picking up some carrots, and washing them off with the hose — it was that fresh," Anne said.

Several times per week, Anne visited her aunt and uncle, who never had children of their own, from when she was 7 years old until she graduated high school. "My family had some challenging times," Anne said. "Since there were 11 of us, Aunt Theresa's and Uncle George's house was a place of refuge for me."

Anne fondly remembers her aunt's gifted hands kneading homemade bread. She also remembers Aunt Theresa going out into the yard and gathering lilies of the valley to arrange beneath a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

"Uncle George liked polka. When the music came on television, he would get up, grab my hand, and dance with me around the room," she said.

Most especially, Anne remembers Aunt Theresa crafting quilts and Uncle George making Rosary beads to send to the missions in Central America.

"I would go over to their house and help Aunt Theresa make the quilts while Uncle George made Rosaries, and we would pray and just spend time together. It's like our prayers to Mary were being absorbed by the quilts and the Rosaries we were making," Anne said.

Upon Anne's First Holy Communion, they gave her a pink set of Rosary beads, which she cherishes today. "Aunt Theresa was just a very devout, faithful woman. She taught me so many prayers. She taught me devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. Thérèse. She taught me about novenas, the Rosary," Anne said. "She would tell me that whenever she prayed a novena to St. Thérèse, she would smell roses."

Anne remembers Aunt Theresa and Uncle George going to Mass every day. She said that more than anyone, they modeled for her how to live a life devoted to God.

"The thing my aunt and uncle taught me: Not only do you pray, but you have to give to others. I learned about kindness and giving to others to enrich their lives," she said.

For the past five years, Anne has been very ill with lupus and psoriatic arthritis. "I do a lot of fervent prayer through this time," she said. "It has its challenges. But I know there's a purpose, and I don't despair, even though there were days my pain was so unbelievable. I definitely learned faith through my great aunt and great uncle. I call it 'faith in action.' It's how you live your faith, how you see God in others and acknowledge them. That's what they taught me. They were humble and lived a life of service by giving to those in need."

Please write in or email to share about who in your life has modeled faith and devotion to Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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Debra - Oct 21, 2019

Theresa and George were such beautiful models of holiness for Anne. They inspired her to imitate their virtues. This was their legacy to her.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Maria - Oct 21, 2019

what a beautiful story! It's a pity I never had anyone to look up to.