Parish Stories

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne, IN Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend


“I was 57 when I first received Jesus in the Eucharist.”

Doree Bush

As a later-in-life convert to the Catholic faith, I was 57 when I first received Jesus in the Eucharist. The joy that filled me with this sacrament changed my life and fulfilled the life-long desire of my heart. I was raised in a loving Protestant home, but from the time that I was very young, I had questions about the many different faiths. Which one was authentic? I wanted to know the truth. They all claimed to be “truth,” but how could they be by virtue of their differences? My dad’s lineage is 100 percent Ashkenazi Jewish. There was a huge missing piece of the puzzle, and I vowed to find it. 

From studying Latin, I knew my college’s motto, “Doce Me Veritatem,” meant “Teach Me Truth.” I felt I must be in the right place! (Interestingly, it was a Catholic college, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, New York.) As years passed and I was busy raising a family, I floundered in my faith, not knowing how to respond to God properly. Looking back, there were many ways that God was leading me to the truth. One way He did this was through a dream that recurred at three different times in my life. I dreamed that I was in my own house, and I discovered a door in my house that I never noticed was there before. I felt compelled to find out what this door led to. So I opened the door and then stood in amazement at what lay before me: It was a huge, banquet-sized room, and toward the center was a very large table adorned with beautiful white embroidered linens. On this table was the most magnificent, priceless, golden treasure. I was in awe, shocked that all this beauty and splendor was in my own house all the time, and I never knew it! 

Our youngest daughter, Jessica, who was on her own spiritual search, came home from college one weekend and announced that she wanted to become Catholic. Her and then our family’s spiritual journey was about to take an unbelievable turn. 

I was shocked and asked her many questions, the main one about Transubstantiation — how could the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus? At that moment, the Holy Spirit worked through our daughter to evangelize me because as she answered my questions, my objections melted away and vanished. The Holy Spirit swooped in, giving me the grace of belief that He had given our daughter just months earlier. After her catechesis, Jessica was confirmed, and she received the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus and the following year after going through RCIA at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish, I, too, received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Many tears of joy flowed over the next 10 years, continuing today in Sunday and daily Mass and in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

It wasn’t until I attended a Christ Renews His Parish weekend and was writing my witness for the next group of women that suddenly, the meaning of my recurring dreams rushed into my heart. God was showing me that His treasure of the Mass and Eucharist was right there all along in my own heart, and all I needed to do was open the door and see it! He knew I was hungry, and He fed me with truth, gift-wrapped in love, along with grace to behold and believe. 

Jesus continues to change me by putting in my heart the desire to go deeper in my faith. I joined our parish’s St. Paul Street Evangelization team to share it with others who are hungry and searching for truth. 

Jesus, I pray that all come to believe Your Word that the bread which You give is Your flesh for the life of the world.

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“In that moment my eyes were opened.”

Jonathan Feola

There were many things that were drawing my heart back to the Catholic Church, but it was our Eucharistic Lord that sealed the deal. 

Even though I was baptized into the Catholic Church as a baby, I lived much of my adult life as a Christian outside of the Church, mostly in non-denominational churches. I was a born-again believer who loved reading the Bible and praying. I could probably count on one hand how many days went by since my high school years where I didn’t read my Bible. Loving the Lord and growing closer to Him was always my desire. 

Sometime in late 2018 I started to grow restless. I longed for more, and found myself sitting in bed one night with my Bible and thinking that surely there is more. I was missing something but wasn’t quite sure what to do. I started to question my beliefs and what I professed as a Christian. It wasn’t a doubtful or negative questioning; my faith never wavered. It was more a “Why do I believe what I believe?” kind of questioning. I didn’t know it at the time, but I truly believe now that it was those baptismal graces being stirred by the Holy Spirit and Jesus was calling me home. 

During this time of rediscovering my faith I had a job that required me to drive quite a bit. I filled most of my time in the car with podcasts, listening to a lot from Catholic Answers. In October 2019, I was in Michigan for a few days of work. I was listening to an episode of Why Aren’t You Catholic? By this time, I was convinced that I should return to the Church, mostly from an intellectual conversion from everything I was reading at that time, including the Catechism. But I was still taking it a little slow for the sake of my wife who was a lifelong Protestant. You can read her story (Liz Feola) on as well. 

There was a moment in my car during that 2019 trip that forever changed my heart. During that Why Aren’t You Catholic? episode, the host spoke directly to one of the callers saying, “Jesus wants to meet you in the Eucharist!” I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life because in that moment my eyes were opened. Tears began to roll down my face as one of my favorite Bible stories of all time, the road to Emmaus from Luke 24 made sense to me in a whole new light. He “was made known to them in the breaking of bread.” In that moment, I saw Jesus in the Eucharist and He was waiting for me to come to Him. 

There were many things that were drawing me home, but it was the revelation of our Eucharistic Lord in my car that day that made all the difference. 

Since returning to the Church in November 2021, I have continued to be drawn closer to Him in the Eucharist. I can now attend daily Mass on a regular basis and go to adoration almost every week at our parish. 

I love going to adoration! The scripture that always fills my mind when I go to adoration is Ps 63:2-3, “So, I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your merciful love is better than life.” 

When I show up for adoration, I rarely come with a long list of prayer requests. On occasion, I might pray the Rosary or read scriptures or offer up some prayer intentions, but I really like just being there with Jesus, beholding Him in the sanctuary. I look at Him and am so grateful for this amazing gift He has given us. The same Jesus who walked on water, healed the sick, and went to the Cross is fully present in the Eucharist. I didn’t get to walk the streets of Galilee or Jerusalem like the first disciples, but by a miracle of grace, that same Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist here and now. I am strengthened and refreshed as I ponder these things sitting in His presence. 

I remember meeting with one of our parish priests before coming back to the Church. It was mostly just to talk through what was going on in my heart and family and what steps we needed to take to move forward. When we were done with our meeting, he told me to go into the sanctuary and “spend some time with Him.” I remember not fully grasping what he meant by that other than just going to spend some time in prayer. But now I understand it, I am literally going to spend time with Jesus. He is there, truly present. 

Jesus really does want to meet us in the Eucharist. May we never lose our awe and wonder of this amazing gift!

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“Total peace! A true miracle.”

Lori Bickel

I received Communion after having surgery. While the surgery went well, I had a reaction to the pain medication they gave me. My body felt like little vibrations were coursing through me. I couldn’t rest. Someone knocked on the door and asked if I would like to receive Communion. I said, “Oh, yes please,” and after we said a prayer and he gave me Communion, I felt a warmth start at my head and go through my entire body. Total peace! A true miracle. I called my husband, who came and took me home. While I have always believed that Communion is the Body of Christ, now I know it is. No one could ever convince me it isn’t. 

I love going to Mass and receiving Communion because I continue to feel the peace and love I did almost 30 years ago. 

I love adoration because I love talking to Jesus. I know I talk to Him many times throughout the day, but the peace and quiet is a welcome change. I think of it as going to visit my friend instead of Him always coming to me. I make a conscious effort to make a special time for Jesus.

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“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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