“I was drawn in by God’s grace”

Jen Havard April 26, 2023
St. Monica Mishawaka, IN

Our family came into our current parish, St Monica’s in Mishawaka, in July of 2019. It’s incredible looking back at all the Lord has done in us since then, even with Covid and all the craziness that brought. 

I am a cradle Catholic and was brought up in a wonderful, faith-filled Catholic home in Southern Alabama on the Gulf Coast. My parents were involved in the charismatic renewal. The desire grew for them to form Christian community, which led them to a community that started in South Bend and spread around the country in the ‘80s. Mark and I joined that community as young adults and have been members for all of our adult lives, while still participating in parish life. In community life, we have been a part of lots of praise and worship, charismatic prayer, and have grown up with a great awareness of the Holy Spirit’s power and action in this world, which has been powerful and wonderful. But because that particular community was ecumenical and not specifically Catholic, the emphasis was not on our sacramental life. 

The Lord very quickly moved my heart toward the sacred beauty and His presence that we encountered at St. Monica’s. I felt drawn to daily Mass, something I had not experienced before or done regularly. I went to daily Mass as a Lenten sacrifice, but I never just chose to go because I truly wanted to go. I began to notice that the more frequently I attended daily Mass, the more drawn I became to the liturgical seasons, saints’ feast days, cycles of readings, and most especially to the Eucharist. I also began to notice that after morning Mass, my day at work was more doable: I had been working at a pregnancy resource center and that was wonderful, hard, and emotional work for me. It was a daily spiritual battle, and the Eucharist filled me with the grace I needed to do that work for a couple more years. Praise God. 

I had never been part of a parish that had regular holy hours, and started to go to the Thursday evening holy hour at St. Monica’s. I struggled to know what to do for an hour sitting there. I didn’t know the prayers or the responses. But over time, I was drawn in by God’s grace. I now hate to miss any opportunity and I am sad when I can’t be there. I can struggle with distraction, usually from within, and sometimes even doze off after a long work day, but I know that in the end, I was with the Lord for that hour and that is priceless!

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