Parish Stories

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne, IN Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend


“I’m here, Jesus, I’m here”

Liz Feola

I am a recent convert to the Catholic faith and it really was the Eucharist that led to my conversion. My husband, Jonathan, and I were both Protestants. We attended a non-denominational church and had a strong faith life, we prayed and read our Bible daily, and our life was centered around our faith. So you can imagine my surprise when my husband came to me one day and said “Liz, I think God is leading us to the Catholic Church.” My response was “No way!” I did not know much about Catholicism and my heart was very hardened to the idea. But the Lord was working a great deal in my husband’s heart, and Jonathan was responding to Him. 

Jonathan purchased a Catechism of the Catholic Church and he began to read it daily. He became so excited about everything he was learning and he would often attempt to share things with me. I almost always responded negatively and did not want to listen, until one day he began to share with me about the Eucharist. He said that Catholics believe that the consecrated hosts actually become the real true presence of Jesus – Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. I was shocked! I had no idea that Catholics believe this and I remember saying, “What!? That sounds way too good to be true!” But as I walked away, in my heart I was saying, “I want that to be true; I need that to be true.” 

For the next several days, the Eucharist was all I could think about and I wanted to know more. I began to turn to scripture to see if this could really be true. Over and over I read John 6 where Jesus talks about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. I read the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus and how Jesus revealed Himself to them through the breaking of bread. I began to read the scriptures in a new light, through the guidance of the Catholic Church, and I wholeheartedly believed it! 

We began to attend Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as a family and I signed up for the RCIA program. At the same time, my husband and I decided to enroll our son in the Catholic school at our parish. Each day I would arrive to pick him up from school, sit in my car in the pickup line, and I felt this longing to go inside the church. I had no idea why I felt this way, and it seemed very strange to me. As a Protestant, I thought there was nothing special about a building, and that I didn’t need to be in a church to pray. I could pray anywhere. I didn’t even know if Protestant churches were open during the week, except for the office. 

A few weeks later in our RCIA class we talked about the Eucharist. This was my favorite class by far, and I was longing so much to receive Jesus through this Sacrament. Towards the end of the class, our leader was talking about the tabernacle in the sanctuary and she said, “And if the candle next to the tabernacle is lit, then you know Jesus is in there.” I almost jumped out of my seat! Jesus is in the tabernacle. I had no idea! In that instant I understood why I sat in my car each day longing to come into the church–because Jesus is there! After class I asked my RCIA sponsor if it was ok to go into the church during the weekdays to pray. She said yes and told me about adoration, explaining that Jesus would be visible in the monstrance. I had no idea what a monstrance was and I was still a bit unsure about what adoration was, but I was longing for Jesus, so I thought I would give it a try. 

I remember walking into the church the next day for adoration. There were just a few other people scattered throughout the pews, and I felt a little self-conscious as I walked down the aisle. I sat down, pulled out the kneeler, got on my knees, looked up at the monstrance, and I saw Him. I knew at that moment it was Jesus! I felt a warmth come over me and I heard Jesus say in my heart, “I’ve been waiting for you.” For the next 45 minutes I stared at the beautiful monstrance that was holding my beloved Lord, and all I could say was, “I’m here, Jesus, I’m here.” 

I was brought into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Mass and I received the Sacrament of the Eucharist. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such joy! And since that day I have continued to seek after Jesus in this beautiful Sacrament. I love attending daily Mass and receiving Jesus at the beginning of my day. I especially love coming to the church and being with Jesus while He is in the tabernacle. I love coming to the church and being with Him because I know that I need Him and because I know that He is always here waiting for me to come to Him.

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“I believe the Lord healed me”

Maryella Hierholzer

I love praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament because I’m with Jesus. We can talk to each other more easily at adoration because it’s like sitting with a friend. 

In 2004, I felt led to begin praying a holy hour once a week during adoration at my parish in Maryland. I believe it was the call of the Holy Spirit to sustain and heal me because a part of my heart’s mitral valve was lodged in my right eye. My eyesight in that eye got much better and I was able to continue working full-time and later to take full retirement with no disability. 

God gave me strength through the rosary and a bottle of holy water from Lourdes, but I believe the Lord primarily healed me through the power of the Eucharist at weekly adoration. Thank you, Jesus! 

The Eucharist is everything to me. It’s Christ himself. The Mass is heaven on earth. Going to Mass and receiving Communion is the best part of every day!

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“It was him. Always him calling me.”

Sarah Bishop

Ever since I can remember, Jesus has been calling me. When things were falling apart, when another had failed me, and when the noise was too much – he called me. This is a realization he has brought to me now in my adulthood. At the time I lacked the words to tell you what was happening. Even now the words of this world fall short, but I will attempt it. 

Within me there would be an overwhelming desire to be outside. Something entirely consuming and perfectly lovely. No fear in it at all, just a call to "my happy place." Little Sarah would respond eagerly with her whole little heart, rushing to grab her blanket and fill her ballet bag with her treasures before heading out to her tree. A row of three maple trees stood lining the side yard of the house.The middle tree was “my tree”. I would lay my blanket out under my tree and sit. Sometimes flipping to my stomach and scooting to the edge of the blanket to view the day’s unnoticed hustle and bustle. I laid there and watched the ants go about their work, rushing around expertly cutting what they needed from the surrounding forest and carrying objects home which didn't seem possible. Then turning my eyes to grass I would marvel at the sea of green that lay in front of me, how each individual blade was stunning and completely different from its neighbor. Each blade somehow contained every shade of green all at once and glimmered proudly in the light as if it knew how beautiful it was. At other times I returned to my back and rested in the warmth of the sun, gazing through the mosaic of leaves my tree created above and catching glimpses of gold as the breeze played games with them. 

Closing my eyes, I felt a contentment that no matter how much I continued to grow I could never hope to be able to share its entirety with you. It is what you feel in the Father’s arms; it is a fleeting flash of heaven. It is being able to sit in silence to ponder his creation and your place in it and to be so present in the moment that only what is real, true, and beautiful remains. There is no longer a veil of separation. The breeze plays with it just as it does the leaves. All that remains is me and Jesus. 

I didn't know what adoration was until I was 28 years old. A lot happened in between little Sarah with her ballet bag and grown Sarah now standing in church with her two little boys. I walked into the chapel not having any idea what I was walking into and stopped dead in my tracks. I was standing face to face with him – Jesus. 

An eternity passed in the seconds I stood frozen before him. It was as if every moment I had ever spent under my tree had just been relived all at once within that chapel. It was the same entirely consuming and perfectly lovely desire from my childhood–to be so in the moment that all that remained was me and Jesus. He is what my heart had been answering all those years ago. He was what I desired. He was what filled me with contentment. It was him. Always him calling me, training me to be silent, to listen, and to eagerly rush to him when things weren't right. Now the longer I am away from him the more I ache. He is the only one who can fill you: searching elsewhere will only empty you. Sitting before the Blessed Sacrament is to sit in the silence of those days under my tree and to gaze in awe at his creation; to sit in silence and just listen as he holds me. Jesus.

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