Parish Stories

St. Gabriel the Archangel

McKinney, TX Diocese of Dallas


“I get such happiness each time I receive the Eucharist”

Judith Zezai Johnson

I get such happiness each time I receive the Eucharist. I cover my face and smile in thanksgiving as I consume the body of my Lord. My inner self fears nothing and is at peace. 

I became attached to Mass at a very young age. My parents took me to Mass and catechism, and I was sent to a Catholic boarding school. I received the sacrament of reconciliation and first communion. The following year, I was confirmed. 

Adoration is where I have my conversation of praise, my love and gratitude for being his most beloved daughter.

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“Today, instead of running away from my problems, I run to Jesus.”

Kara Scow

In my teens and twenties, I began to do long-distance running. It was not only in the physical sense but in the spiritual sense, as well. Despite my Catholic upbringing, I ran a long distance from my faith. I didn’t need God. I could do life on my own. But without God in my life, I had no guidance, no truth, no peace, no control. I was so very lost. So how did I respond? I fell apart. I went unhinged. I ran away from my problems and into the world's pleasures. 

At age 26, by God’s grace, I found my kind and loving husband, Matt. We were married by a judge in September of 2006. Seven years later, due to life choices and my unexplainable infertility, I gave birth to boy/girl twins. God, in His hilarious sense of humor, knew that I needed double the impact to bring me back to Him. I would not be standing in this Church today if He hadn’t given us the priceless gift of children. They are my path to sainthood. 

We had them baptized because it was all I knew to do, but in due time I felt compelled to fulfill my Catholic initiation and finally get confirmed. I only had to attend two classes before Confirmation, but we were encouraged to go to confession to achieve a state of grace before receiving the Holy Spirit. 

I hadn’t been to confession in well over 25 years, and I had an awful recollection of how I had violated God’s commandments in ways that would be a breeding ground for a reality TV show. Complete terror fell over me. But I knew that my soul needed this. 

The dreaded moment finally arrived a few days later. “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.” In one fleeting moment, these seven words uttered in that confessional changed my life forever. I instantly felt the presence of God. After unearthing my ugly sins that I had kept buried for far too long, I was overcome with the gentle touch of mercy that caressed my shoulder, wiped my tears away, and held my hand, which led me far away from that pit of shame I had been stewing in. I received restoration and I savored the radiance of God’s grace. I had not realized the weight of my sins until that moment. My transformation began. 

A week later, I was sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and I became rabid for Jesus. I had a hunger to know Him more, to love Him more intensely, and I had a rich desire to please Him. Holiness and virtuosity appeared more and more attractive to me. It could not be just a phase. My attitude, manner, style, path, life, and entire being must be the way of Jesus Christ for eternity. 

These inspirations necessitated convalidating our marriage in the Catholic Church. But our pastor advised that I abstain from receiving the Eucharist until the day because, technically, our marriage wasn’t valid in the eyes of God. 

In the beginning of my abstinence, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the Eucharist. So what did I do? I studied and read and studied some more about it. I wanted to need Him, to yearn for Him, and to desire Him with all my heart in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Once I finally understood the true meaning of the Eucharist, that by God’s Almighty Power it is Jesus Christ, body, soul and divinity, really, truly and substantially in the appearance of bread and wine, I longed to receive him, so I could have Him in me, so close to my heart and soul, as one body, and ready to receive any little grace that he was willing to give me, but I couldn’t. Not for several months. Spiritual Communion had to suffice until then. Matt was going through RCIA at this point, but we could not have a full Mass for our convalidation ceremony because he wasn't baptized yet. I counted the days until then. 

After what seemed like an eternity, our marriage was finally made sacred. (Matthew 19:6) We were “no longer two but one flesh; joined together by God, in which no human being could separate.” The next day my heart ran to Jesus on the altar. With my daughter in my arms, I received my Lord, and I felt his warmth and his love wrap around my heart just as my daughter was wrapped around me. This initiated attending daily Mass with my 2-year-old twins in tow. It was difficult to go with them, but I was determined to receive my Lord as often as possible. I deeply hungered for Him. 

The flame of my faith went from a birthday candle to a bonfire within the next year. Matt finally became fully initiated into the Catholic Church. I sought guidance through spiritual direction and began attending Eucharistic Adoration to be near Jesus more. This transformed my prayer life. I had never felt such peace and interior silence as I did when I adored Christ exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. It soon became my weekly sustenance. In time, I was personally convicted of receiving Jesus on the tongue with childlike humility. Before long, I then felt compelled to assume the posture of kneeling. I did this to acknowledge that He is the King of my heart and of the Universe. 

Several years later, despite past infertility issues, without any help from a medical doctor as before, the true Doctor, Jesus Christ, gave us the gift of another child, and it was solely due to the Eucharist. I spent countless hours in prayer and Adoration, imploring the intercession of Mother Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Anne to have another child. And I received the Eucharist as often as I could. God did the seemingly impossible and made it possible. A baby boy was born to us on Easter Sunday. We named him Joseph after our dear father, St. Joseph, who was as true to fulfilling my request as St. Teresa of Ávila said he would be. Saint Joseph has never let me down.

Since then, through spiritual reading and guidance, but mostly through my daily hour of prayer, I have grown into a deeper intimacy with Jesus, especially in the Eucharist. I can only describe my time with Him as an old farmer once said when asked by St. John Vianney what he did in the church, looking at the tabernacle, “I look at Jesus as He looks at me.” 

Today, instead of running away from my problems, I run to Jesus. (A friend gave me a shirt that actually says that!) I run to receive Him at Mass in the Eucharist. I run to be with Him in silent Adoration. I take all of my worries and bring them to Him by placing them at His feet. Then He takes me and holds me in the warmth and strength of His arms, and all of my anxieties disappear. I am left with nothing but His love and His peace penetrating my heart. I then proclaim the words from the Song of Solomon: “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth… My Beloved is mine, and I am His.”

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“The Eucharist is part of my identity!”

Celina Anthony

The Eucharist is part of my identity! Receiving the Eucharist reminds me that I belong to Jesus and that makes all the difference in my life. 

I have seen and experienced a breakthrough not only in my life but also in the lives of the people whom I surrender to Him during mass. I have witnessed Jesus bringing back my loved ones to church to attend Mass. 

I lift my petitions up to God, throughout Mass but especially when the priest lifts the Eucharist up. It is then when I ask God to transform my prayer. And He does it… every single time. 

I love going for daily Mass because I am strengthened and transformed at every Mass and with that, I am able to embrace what the world offers. The Eucharist builds me up to exercise Kingdom mindset and to demonstrate that in my daily walk on Earth. 

I look forward to being with Jesus during Adoration. There's something special about being there with Him. When I switch off from everything and everyone, I am able to connect with Him and hear Him. It is a time of healing and purification for me. To be with Him at the core of my identity strengthens me and gives me hope. He sets me free and sets me apart to do His will.

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“God is good all the time!”

Martha Doose

The Eucharist is my life and inspiration. Without it, I am empty and nothing. 

I am a “cradle Catholic” and know firsthand, after observing and occasionally participating in other sectors of religion, that the consecrated body and blood of Our Lord is my lifeline to being a spiritually honest, compassionate, and good human being. God is good all the time! My spirit and my soul feel full when I receive Holy Communion, and I am truly hungry for my daily food. 

I use this analogy when speaking to others about Adoration and praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I say it just like this: Put your thinking cap on and tell me who in your life is someone that you would give anything to meet. It could be a movie star, a singer, a political figure or just anybody that is very special and important to you that you admire. Next, think about what you would have to go through to meet that person. Most likely, red tape, protocol, and airline tickets to get to the location, and you may have to encounter many other challenges when you arrive at your destination. Now then, picture this… Jesus, who is your Creator (without whom you would not be alive today), is sitting all alone in the monstrance (for free) in Adoration, just waiting for you to walk in the door and visit with Him. Why would anyone not jump at the chance? 

I always tell everyone that one hour with Our Lord is worth 1,000 hours of any other activity they would like to do. It doesn’t get any better than that!!

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“What an amazing, loving, self-giving, merciful, forgiving God we have.”

Sheila Lovelace

I'm Sheila Lovelace, a parishioner and human just like you.

Sometime back, I was praying with Hosea 11:1-4 when verse 4 came alive. 

“Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, 
They did not know I was their healer.” 

It is as if I could see Jesus stooping down, like a servant, to wait on me, feeding me. I realized He was feeding me the Eucharist, His very self. I realized He was doing this continually. It came so alive to my heart that I cried, “No, Jesus, it is too much; you already died for us; you don’t need to keep stooping.” 

At the next daily Mass, It came alive again. This time, I realized Jesus, God, was being like fodder for me. He was the very lowest on the food chain for me. It was too much, and I cried, “You, God, stooped to become a human just like me, except without sins. You stooped further, allowing us to mistreat you and kill you. And now you stoop even further down by becoming our bread, our food, our fodder?” 

He helped me understand it must be this way. He is here to save me continually. He reminded me of Psalm 139: “Where can I go from your spirit? If I sink to the nether world, you are present there.” I understood that no matter what I do or where I go, He is always there, ready to stoop and pick me back up. 

What an amazing, loving, self-giving, merciful, forgiving God we have. It’s almost too much. He turns my heart toward Himself. He turns my heart to love him all that much more. He turns my heart to love others with His kind of love. Holy Spirit, help me love. Eucharist Jesus, God, save me.

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“I never felt the Lord’s presence as I did at that moment”

Elaine Gibson

I am a cradle Catholic; unfortunately, I fell away from the Church for 40 years. I always believed in God, but I felt too lazy to go to Mass. In 2019, I started going to Mass faithfully every Saturday at 5:00 p.m. It was a beautiful experience, but then the pandemic hit and I couldn’t go anymore. It was devastating, and my husband became ill at that time. Eventually, we were able to watch Mass online which brought me peace. 

My husband passed away in 2022 and I promised God I would dedicate the rest of my life to him. I started joining as many groups as possible at my parish, St. Gabriel. My life revolved around St. Gabriel. I knew two members of the parish back then, now I can honestly say I know hundreds. My life is so full and I am so blessed! 

At Mass, I saw people drink the Precious Blood but I didn’t and it weighed heavily on my heart. I would receive the host, but not the blood. I kept praying about it and then, in the early part of July, I was at Mass and I kept hearing the word “faith,” in my mind as the altar was being prepared. I drank from the cup and tears came down my cheeks, I never felt the Lord’s presence as I did at that moment. 

I never wanted to be a Eucharistic Minister, I felt unworthy. It kept weighing on my heart, I finally did it and it is the best thing I ever did. I still feel unworthy, but God has built me up, he loves me and I am living proof of that!

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“I've made some of my most difficult decisions in Adoration.”

Lori Peterson

I consider the Eucharist my personal connection to Jesus. I feel complete when I receive him in the Eucharist at Mass. 

I have gone through several difficult situations in my life and I have been beaten down. My self esteem was at rock bottom 12 years ago. I was able to come back to this side of Dallas Fort Worth and returned to St. Gabriel. I was so discouraged, but Jesus spoke to me in Adoration, telling me how loved I am and calling me His Beloved Daughter. I felt such a release and a peace wash over me. 

I love going to Mass and receiving Jesus for the connection to Him. However, I also love being able to serve and give Jesus to my friends. There is no better feeling than to be united with Jesus in the Eucharist. I am blessed to be able to share Jesus with my friends so that they can feel the complete unity with Christ Himself. 

Adoration is one of my favorite things. No matter the burden, you can offer it to the Most Blessed Sacrament and know that He cares. I've made some of my most difficult decisions in Adoration. I have received clarity in some situations all because I brought them to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I have seen others broken in front of Jesus and walk out whole. There is power in spending time with Jesus in Adoration.

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“It has been truly a gift to be able to sit freely with Jesus.”

Kathleen Radtke

Beginning my day with the Eucharist has become my mainstay. I know that I need to stay connected to Jesus throughout my day, especially at work and with my family, so starting my day with Mass has allowed me to keep Jesus close at hand. I can truly feel a difference in my day if I can't make it to Mass. 

I had a powerful encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist about 15 years ago, on a retreat during Adoration, as I was slowly coming back to my faith. I felt His presence so strongly that evening as the priest walked slowly through the room holding the monstrance. So much so that my heart felt like it was quite literally burning. At first, not knowing what was happening, I thought perhaps the room was just getting warm. But later that night, someone came up to me and told me that during Adoration, he had opened his eyes, saw me across the room, and that my heart seemed to him to be glowing. That was the first time I had ever had a physical manifestation of the Lord being present to me. Adoration continues to be a powerful experience of being close to the Lord for me. 

I love going to Mass and receiving Holy Communion because I know it's the closest I can physically be with Jesus during the day. That time just after Communion allows me to simply sit with Jesus and allow Him to work in me. My prayer is that the more I receive Communion, the more like Jesus I will become. 

I crave silence in this busy world. Adoration allows me to slow down, focus on Jesus and simply be present to Him. I used to have the need to bring reading to do, pray the rosary or read Scripture during Adoration. But lately, I have been content to simply sit quietly with the Lord. This took time to be comfortable with, but it has been truly a gift to be able to sit freely with Jesus.

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Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.

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