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Faith & Hope in the Midst of a Storm

November 19th, 2012by Deacon Royce Winters

‘Marilyn’ was excited to continue her journey of faith in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  She was baptized in a Baptist Church and for a long time was actively living out her faith.  Somewhere along the way as the days and years passed by, she was not as active in seeking a deeper relationship with God.  She was introduced to the Catholic Church by a friend who loved the Church and his faithfulness piqued her interest. 

It was very obvious that “Marilyn” had been brought up in the faith, but it was also clear that she was not comfortable talking about it with other people.  Week by week, the Spirit of God began moving upon her and she began to share the faith that resided deep within her heart.  We were awed by the transformation that was happening before our very eyes.  One Sunday, after the Eucharistic Celebration, the group gathered as we always do to talk about God’s activity in our lives.  There was something missing in ‘Marilyn’s’ eyes, I couldn’t name it, but I saw it.  As we neared the end of our discussion, I asked ‘Marilyn’ if I could talk to her immediately after the session and she agreed.  I said to her, “Marilyn, if you are willing to share, I am willing to listen.”  Marilyn stared at me and said, “What are you talking about?”  And before I could respond, her whole body crumpled – it was as if her legs could no longer support her.  As she whispered through the tears, I heard her say, “I’ve been diagnosed with cancer and my doctor has given me only six months to live.”  I asked the team members to join us and we prayed for Marilyn that day. 

These last few weeks for ‘Marilyn’ have been filled with pain, tears, treatment, pain and more tears.”  She seemed to be wasting away before our very eyes.  This past Sunday, “Marilyn walked into church with a large smile and much joy!  It seemed the right thing to do, so immediately after the Opening Hymn, I said to the gathered community, “As we gather today with great faith, we take this time to welcome our sister, “Marilyn’ who has been battling cancer.”  The whole church stood and offered its love, praise and thanks to the Living God.  “Marilyn still has cancer, but the smile and joy she shared with us that Sunday morning, was filled with faith, hope and love.  Two weeks ago, we welcomed ‘Marilyn’ into Catholic Church through celebrating the Rite of Baptized Christians Into Full Communion of the Catholic Church.  This sister of ours has witnessed to us faith, hope and the joy of God who saves!

Deacon Royce Winters

Deacon Royce Winters is the director of African American Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He has been married for 36 years and his wife, children and grandchildren all attend Church of the Resurrection in Bond Hill.