Diocesan Stories

Diocese of Fall River

“A touching experience”

Deborah Waldrop

I am a convert to Catholicism. Before my Confirmation, I was drawn to the Eucharist. 

Now, I am an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I take Communion to the sick and one day, around six years ago, I had a touching experience that I love sharing. I’m shy around people I don’t know, so my friend Jim and I would together take Communion to those who were home-bound. One Sunday, we went to a memory care facility and were visiting a woman we didn’t know. Her daughter was so happy we were there and was going to leave while we gave Communion to her mother. I told her she was more than welcome to stay. We recited the Our Father with the mother. Her daughter was crying and explained that it had been twelve years since her mother had been able to remember the prayer. If the daughter had left, she would’ve missed that moment. Since we didn’t know her mother, we wouldn’t have understood the impact of her reciting the prayer! 

Going to Mass and hearing the readings makes me feel a part of a tradition thousands of years old. Receiving Holy Communion reinforces that feeling and that Jesus is the same today in our lives as He was two thousand years ago. Adoration is a very personal encounter with the Lord in which I bare my heart and soul and receive His love.

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“I ask Jesus to speak to my heart”

Carol Levesque

I have very fond childhood memories of going to church with my parents at 3:00, on Sunday afternoons for “Benediction.” How very quiet it was upon entering. But even so, there was something very different about this afternoon “visit”. Everyone was so still, staring at the altar or with eyes closed in prayer. I didn’t fully understand at that age, but knew it was something special and liked going each Sunday to also take in the singing, prayers and scent of the incense. 

As I grew older, I have no recollection of hearing about Adoration for many years with the exception of when I had the opportunity to experience various women’s retreats and Cursillo. Then at some point, many years later, our parish began to have the church open one day a week for several hours for Adoration. I began to attend weekly and grew to look forward to my time there, and to this day I love spending time in Adoration. I usually bring a meditation book and a journal. I ask Jesus to speak to my heart, healing and guiding me with His love, thanking and praising for always being with me. Opening my book, I read a brief meditation and gaze upon him in the Eucharist and upon the cross, loving Him, and listening. Sometimes I sense an overwhelming peace, or He may flood my mind with thoughts, memories or consolations. I jot down what I experience so I may continue to ponder and pray on it in the days ahead. I always leave adoration feeling like “ jello,” so at peace and connected to Him and knowing His love is like no other! An hour that seemed like a few moments has changed me and I am so grateful. 

Now, every time I walk into a church, I look at the crucifix and ask Him to never let me forget that He did this for me: dying on the cross. And if that wasn’t enough, He reveals to me that blood He shed and offered for me and all His children in the most Holy Eucharist. We are so loved and blessed!

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“Christ at the center”

Caitlin Winters

For several years the walls of my home had been the same tan color. Its neutrality and tone served us well, hiding the little fingerprints and scuff marks that come with family life, but the little ones grew out of the toddler stage and the house was overdue for a refresh. 

I knew where I wanted to start, the front living room, where we receive our guests and welcome each other home. 

I flipped through paint samples for days, finally choosing the lightest blue for the walls and the brightest white for the trim. It was a cleanable, smudge resistant paint that promised to cover the old color in one coat. 

I rolled up my sleeves, rolled on the color and the room was transformed. The walls opened up, the shadows in the corners were replaced by bouncing light. Taking it in was like a breath of fresh air.

Though I moved the furniture back in its place and used the same plants and decorations, everyone who saw it was enchanted. My husband even said to me “Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t imagine another color in this room!” 

I was well pleased with my choices, favoring blues, reminiscent of Mary, the past several years but I didn’t think much of it beyond aesthetics. 

One afternoon I ran out for a small can of paint to continue my touch-ups and stopped by the chapel at St. Michael’s Church. I frequent the chapel there, as it’s always available and not too far from home. 

I’ve done it all in that place. I’ve rejoiced, I have cried, I’ve prayed out loud and sat with Jesus in comfortable silence. In good times and bad, I have run to that chapel, or been beckoned there by the cross on its proud steeple that reminds me who waits for me therein. 

It’s Jesus Christ, fully present, body, blood, soul and divinity under the appearance of a Eucharistic host. Oh the comfort there, the holy longing, the peace unsurpassed by any other place short of His presence!

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“I began to understand the effect of His presence”

Ana Mello

My Catholic faith has always been of the utmost importance in my life. I was born into a devoted Catholic family and was raised by people who were completely dedicated to the Lord and trusted in His divine providence. They showed me by example how to be a disciple. As I went through everyday life, looking forward to milestones, and searching for happiness and contentment, I took for granted and didn’t fully grasp the importance of the gifts that they had given me. What I didn’t realize until a few years ago, was that I knew who Jesus was, His miracles, His words, about His perfect sacrifice to redeem us. I loved Him and trusted in Him, but I loved Him from afar. I knew God’s love abided in me and that I could go to Him during times of hope and times of distress. However, I saw Him as a personage, as someone you admire and model, but at the same time, not fully accessible. Habitual Eucharistic adoration has revealed to me that this was the furthest thing from the truth. 

I always had the discipline to attend weekly mass and I believed in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I revered Jesus, but again, as if He was a rockstar. I did not attend Eucharistic Adoration regularly until approximately a decade ago, when our parish was blessed with the most holy, virtuous, and zealous priest. It is so inspirational, beautiful and awesome to have a deeply devoted priest who believes in what he is doing and who invites his flock to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus through adoration. 

Adoration has enabled me to open not only my heart, but my whole being to the Lord. It has opened my eyes to see that Jesus is not only truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, but that His love is tangible and that He invites us to approach Him and to abandon our whole selves to His will. During Eucharistic adoration, I am gazing, worshiping, praying, and adoring my Lord and savior. However, the most beautiful part is that He is also looking at me and right through me. When I realized that there is no place to hide and abandon myself to Him and become vulnerable, I began to understand the effect of His presence. 

The realization that His love for us is so profound and that He allows us access to be His presence is the most amazing gift. It fills my heart with overwhelming awe and it makes me feel so small and so big at the same time. I feel small in the context of creation and history, then I feel so big and so special because I know that I was uniquely created by God, and that I am part of His plan. Spending time with Him in adoration and entering into communion with Him when receiving the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist continually expands my heart and fills it with His love, and His peace. He gives me the graces that I need to persevere in faith, to overcome obstacles, and to change my heart to conform to His. He is there to share in my joys, console my sadness, and to pick me up when I fall. Life is not easy, but I know I’m not alone and that is all I need to know.

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“I only have to look at the Eucharist and there is my answer”

Mary Powell

What a day it is when I approach the Adoration chapel. It is the most peaceful time of the day, knowing that I am not alone. Jesus is here, He is right beside me. 

My thoughts go to the Eucharist and know what a privilege it is for us to receive Communion. Christ is a part of us. He lives in our souls and hearts and showers us with His many graces and love. 

I speak to Jesus letting Him know how much I love Him and need Him in my life. I ask Him to free me from undue anxiety and needless worry, especially when I am facing illnesses. Finally, I thank Him for all that He does for me. 

It seems to be a one-sided conversation, but I only have to look at the Eucharist and there is my answer. The words of a song come to mind, "The Sound of Silence." How can there be sound in silence? Sound. Silence. The answer is simple, one only has to look around you and listen. Jesus is letting us know that His love is so great that He died on the cross for us. What more proof do we need of His tremendous love? 

Being in the presence of the Eucharist gives me such comfort that it is unexplainable. All my worries seem to disappear. It is a calmness beyond words. My life seems to take on a new meaning. 

As I leave the Adoration chapel, I look at the picture of Jesus and these words speak out to me, "Jesus, I Trust in You!" I know that I can face any problem with Christ's help. It may not be easy, but having Jesus by my side gives me the strength to know that I am loved and not alone. I can conquer anything with the knowledge that Jesus is watching over me. 

So silence it may be, but the sound is all around us. Stop and listen. Jesus' love is speaking out to us.

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“God is All Powerful”

Capt. Daryl Gonyon

I am a convert to Catholicism. At age 19, my wife-to-be Lauretta said she would not marry me unless I was Catholic. I had no deep knowledge of any religion, but loved her and told her I would study deeply and ask questions. In 1960, I completed a correspondence course focusing on Catholic theology sponsored by the Knights of Columbus entitled, “Father Smith Instructs Jackson.” That was followed by evening “Inquiry” classes at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts given by a Catholic religious sister whose convent was in Wareham, MA. 

A key teaching by both sources was that God is “All Powerful.” In lay-person’s terms, I understood and believed that meant that God could do anything He wanted to. I never questioned that fundamental belief. When the concept of the Eucharist was taught, I never doubted that if that was what God wanted, He could certainly do it. Many years later when I was teaching 2nd graders about First Communion, a student asked, “Where does the priest get his power from to make a communion wafer the Body and Blood of Christ?” Yes, a 2nd grader asked that. My answer was quick, “From God.” It really is that simple. 

At Mass, I am aware that Christ is present as Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. I dwell on the fact that because of His Presence, I am privileged to be experiencing this miracle as have billions of people since the inception of this miracle over 2,000 years ago. Today, and each and every day, every hour of every day, throughout the world this is happening. 

I am drawn to Mass. I can not explain why I feel that I must go to Mass. I am not a daily Communicant, but I have averaged 4-5 Mass attendance weekly for many decades. I also do the Stations of the Cross before each Mass, Sundays included.

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“All I do know is I need to cling to Him as never before”

Lisa Bradley

I have been fortunate to have grown up in a family that was totally in love with God and had a profound and deep abiding passion for Jesus in the Eucharist. I do not ever remember a time when this was not a part of my life and was not a source of strength and hope in the darkest moments. 

From the time I was a very young child, I desired to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. When others were playing house or dress up, I was practicing receiving Communion with Necco Wafers as a poor stand-in. Then the day came! I remember when I was 7 and taking my First Communion, the feeling of "being one with Jesus." I felt I could walk on air with the elation and joy of having FINALLY received Jesus in this way. 

I can honestly say that He has worked in and through the Mass and the Eucharist all of my life. As a teen and young adult I would go to the Franciscan University of Steubenville to attend their youth conferences. Our precious Lord is very present and very real as the monstrance is processed through the participants on the Saturday night of the weekend. There are times still that if I am in a crowd and I close my eyes I am able to imagine myself back in the tent (I am dating myself) with a few thousand of my closest friends reaching out toward the risen Lord in the Eucharist there. But His presence was not only real there, He remained very real in the tabernacle of my own parish and when sitting there in adoration. 

I have had many different tracks in life. At one time I had the privilege of being in a religious community whose life was completely Eucharistic centered. As active contemplatives, we would have adoration daily as a community and our rule included an hour of private contemplation daily as well. On Fridays, we were silent and each sister had an hour of private prayer in front of the Lord in the monstrance. It was not uncommon for me, during my daily solitary hour, to find my favorite corner tucked up close to the tabernacle where no one could see, and I would be "alone" with our Lord. There was more than one occasion that I had scared one of my fellow sisters by moving from my spot. During this time, our community was just forming, and I myself was in formation. I would spend a lot of time alone in the convent while the sisters met with the Bishop to discuss the rule. Often I would retreat to my corner in the sanctuary and bring along with me my sewing. My thought was, "I would do this with an earthly husband, would my heavenly husband mind?" While there I would pour out my heart with the concerns and the struggles as well as the joys of the days. When I am sad or stressed I can still close my eyes to this day and be there, in my mind, hidden with the Eucharistic Lord. It is my "safe place." 

My life took a turn and I was called out of the convent. Eventually, I found myself as logistical organizer for Steubenville East at The National Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Once again I was at the service of our Eucharistic Lord in the very setting that meant so much to me in my own teenage years. I remember one particular weekend — it was Saturday night — the forecast was for severe lightning storms that evening. This was particularly difficult as our entire venue was held in huge tents. Even the sleeping accommodations were huge tents. The priest that organized the site with me and I started praying. We could see the storm clouds gathering and we could see lightning in the distance. We knew the pinnacle of the weekend was the Eucharistic procession. We continued to call on the Lord's protection for the 2,500+ youth and youth ministers present on the grounds. We witnessed the clouds part with darkness on the horizons all around us, but we were not touched. There were lightning strikes in the neighboring towns, but our "holy hill" remained untouched by even a slight rain shower. But what would I expect? The King was in the tent! 

I am happily married now and my wonderful husband also has a devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and a fantastic love for the Mass. This is something I feel very blessed to share and to be able to grow in holiness together. It is yet one more gift of a God who is so in love with us that He would desire to stay in the most humble of appearances, simple bread. Together, we attend Sunday Mass and, when we are able to, adoration. 

Most recently in this past year, I have felt a powerful stirring in my being. Somehow I know that God is doing a powerful work on a grand scale through the Blessed Sacrament. Everything inside of me feels as if it is reaching for Him and as if I cannot do enough for Him. I do not know where He is leading me in this, I do not need to know. All I do know is I need to cling to Him as never before and find Him, as always, in the Eucharist.

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“But Lord I am not worthy. And I’m a bad listener.”

Nancy Leary

Within this chapel, there was a cacophony of silence so loud it was unnerving. I wanted to escape it. How could I sit with that terrible quiet blaring in my head for an entire hour, a half hour, five minutes? 

Unbearable. I found ways to fill the time, not so much to pray, but to drown out the silence: a rosary, then a chaplet. Then, a resolute effort to sit still for just two minutes. To sit and to listen; to simply be with Him. My mind wandered. “Be still,” He said. I tried. I sat. 

Quietly, awkwardly, like a first date, but with the One whom I’d known my whole life. With the One who gave me life. We both wanted it to work out. But Lord I am not worthy. And I’m a bad listener. 

He just kept looking at me and, I’m sure, nodded His head knowingly. One of those great, small gestures that commands your attention by its exquisite precision. 

I felt like the psalmist, desperate to find a place to conceal myself from His piercing, perfect gaze: 

Where can I go to hide from Your spirit? 
Where can I flee from Your presence? 
If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; 
if I take my rest in the netherworld, You are also there. 

If I say, “Surely the darkness will conceal me 
and the day around me will turn to night,” 
even the darkness is not dark to You; 
the night is as bright as the day, 
for to You darkness and light are the same. 

Lord, I am not worthy. And yet I know You think I am. 

If I rise on the wings of the dawn 
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 
even there your hand will guide me, 
and your right hand will hold me fast. 

How is it that my Lord should come to me, here, in this small, unremarkable room-become-sanctuary? How is it that I am brought to my knees before His mighty presence, inches from His heart, His saving grace, His fearsome love? Inches from the Word Made Flesh who dwells among us. 

I know I am not worthy, but hold me fast anyway. Be with me, my Lord, my Beloved. I strain to hear You speak, not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still, small voice that cuts through the cacophony of silence: “Be with Me,” your plea. Only that. Simply, profoundly, “Be with Me.” Yes, my Beloved, my dove, my life. I will be with You. 

Lord I am not worthy, but here, in the silence of this chapel, before Your divine and awesome presence, Your soul-healing Word shall make me so.

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“I felt pure joy enter my heart”

Paula Rego

I was raised a Catholic, attended catechism, weekly Mass, and received the sacraments. Once I was confirmed, the religious education stopped, and I was left with many questions unanswered. This was the end of my formal Catholic education. 

My journey to Eucharistic adoration has been decades long. I began with a short ten minutes in the chapel, around 2008. Time increased as I became more aware but still was sporadic at best. 

My journey eventually led me to becoming a Eucharistic minister. It was a combination of the two pieces that led me to the love and devotion that I have today. I vividly remember the first Mass as a Eucharistic minister. I was amazed that I was allowed to have such an honor bestowed on me permitting me to participate to such a large degree. It felt like a dream. After taking the ciborium from the priest, I felt pure joy enter my heart. The host looked so beautiful, and I could not stop smiling. I was filled with such overwhelming joy, and I felt as if I were floating to my designated area to give Communion. 

I realized that I let the Lord guide me into what my path would be. I now know that the Lord will lead anyone to what they should do if they allow Him to enter their hearts. I have experienced many graces and small miracles through my time attending Eucharistic adoration. I advise all to start with an open heart, give ten minutes of their time, and allow the Lord to show them the way.

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