A few years ago, I attended a Rite of Election along with a friend of mine who was coming into the Church that Easter. Our Bishop presided over the ceremony, and asked how many people were there because of books they had read. A couple hands went up. “What about something you heard on the radio, or saw on television?” he asked. Another couple hands were raised. Then he asked, “How many of you are here because of a Catholic you know?”
Catechumen hands shot up across the parish, followed by a murmur that quickly erupted into spontaneous applause.
It was a powerful lesson.
Conversion to the Church is often a process, and while books, radio and television are indeed important, there is a particular potency to the witness of faithful Catholics. I had the opportunity to meet one such individual this week. She wants to remain anonymous, but let’s call her Mrs. Angelo.
Mrs. Angelo’s son, a good friend of mine, called a few weeks ago with what I thought was a stellar idea. Mrs. Angelo, a widow with eleven children, was turning 80 years old soon. Why not record a video interview with her, reflecting on her life and family, for the purposes of her children and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Would I consider doing the interview?
So this past week, we drove up to Mrs. Angelo’s house. She fed us, of course, the kind of delicious, hearty fare that makes you thank God for Italian-Americans. We then did our best to locate a few photos that could be edited into the video.
Mrs. Angelo had lots of photo albums. Like many family albums, I found plenty of great pictures going back many years. Yes, with those hairstyles we now regret, glasses suitable only for Elton John, and even a bit of plaid. But what hit me between the eyes was all the pictures of kids – her photo albums were positively teeming with life!
At the interview itself, Mrs. Angelo told lots of funny stories about meeting her late husband, difficulties surmounted, risks taken, and the complete saturation of her life in the faith. It was an amazing experience, and one I won’t soon forget. Just like my wife Kathi’s grandmother pictured above (who I wrote about here), Mrs. Angelo is a truly beautiful woman.
How many people owe their gift of life to the faith of this one woman? How many others have been influenced along the way and seen the hand of God working through her? Only the Lord knows, of course, but I ended the day with a sense of profound gratitude and awe. Just as the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II had an enormous impact on souls around the world, the same can be said for one mother who said yes to God in a spirit of obedience and faithfulness. And just imagine the ripple effect.
If there’s someone like this in your life, remember to say thank you. Chances are, they don’t hear it enough. And if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend creating a family legacy video interview. It can be done pretty inexpensively with today’s technology, and you’ll always be grateful that you took the time to capture a unique piece of history.
My friend put his priorities in the right place with this project. As Catholics, we cherish our families – and just like when we pray the rosary, it’s always worthwhile to honor Mom.