Marie Dombai

The Gift of Motherhood

When I was younger, I grew up knowing not only my mom but also her mother and her mother’s mother—my grandma and great grandma. I saw through the generations the meaning of motherhood. I saw these very strong, independent, spiritual, and loving women as my teachers.

They taught me many things over the years. They taught me about caring, understanding, loving, forgiving, patience, and life. (Just to name a few). They taught the importance and the value of family.

My mom was my superhero—you know, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound to prevent that glass of milk from spilling. My mother gave life to and raised six children. Being a mother of six isn’t easy, (I now know first hand), but hats off to my mom. She is a tough act to follow.

One day, something happened—I became a mom. It took awhile, but I came to understand that motherhood was more that just diapers and mounds of laundry. I realized that our six children were blessings from God and that I was truly blessed.

After I became a mother of six I often asked, “How did Mom do it?” but mom shared her many gifts and life lessons that soon became mine to teach. As a mother, I then began my discipleship and carried on the role of teacher. In raising our children, we have taught the importance of family, good moral values, life lessons, and faith all while teaching love—love for self, each other, family, friends, and God.

Now as a grandmother, I see that what I learned, I have successfully taught to my children as they live their lives and are raising their children in a Catholic environment.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you my admiration for the blessed Mary. She, too, is my mother and has taught me what motherhood is all about through the stories of her raising the Son of God. Mary has become my heavenly superhero, someone who I look to and pray to for support and guidance.

I am extremely thankful for the gift of motherhood and I am truly blessed to have mothers who have given me and continue to give me so much to be grateful for.

Marie Dombai, a retired nursing field supervisor, is a lifelong St. Juliana parishioner and an SJS alumna. She has been married to Tom, a diaconal candidate for 33 years. They have six children and (soon to be) two grandchildren.

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Dan Snow

You might have missed a recent Chicago Tribune article on Father Augustus Tolton, who took a big step forward towards canonization this year. Father Tolton remains a powerful figure for many black American Catholics, but his name is not widely known, a regretful fact here in Chicago, where he left a lasting legacy. His story is worth knowing because it demonstrates that while some of the individuals who form the Church can fail, there are many others who make it a force for good and help to redeem it.

Born a slave in 1854 to a Catholic family in Missouri, Tolton’s family escaped to Quincy, Illinois. Growing up in Quincy, he dealt with discrimination, even when he decided to join the priesthood. Denied entry to American seminaries due to his skin color, Tolton pushed on, traveling to Rome for his studies. Ordained and sent back to Illinois (where racist persecution continued), he’d make his way to Chicago in 1889 and would establish the city’s first parish for the then marginalized black community. In July 1887, a few short years after the parish opened, Fr. Tolton passed out from a heatstroke and died at the age of 43.

Tolton’s legacy has not been overlooked in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, where his work continues in Catholic Charities’ Father Augustus Tolton Peace Center. There, aid workers, counselors, and volunteers heal wounds, help the needy, and assist those struggling through violence, poverty, and other ailments. Their work shows the power for social justice and equality in Catholicism, work that has been ongoing in some form for centuries and that we sometimes lose sight of. Tolton would have been proud that his work of serving the marginalized continues in Chicago and we should be proud to claim his legacy.

Augustus Tolton was born as someone’s property and had his faith chosen by those who claimed ownership of him. There were Catholic lay people and priests who showed him nothing but contempt and hate, contradicting their own morals and values. Yet, Tolton kept his faith and chose to dedicate himself to the Church, going on to improve the lives of many throughout his lifetime, with the support of others in his community and beyond. Tolton shows that while the Church can inflict harm when corrupted by those who ignore its teachings, it can be used for immense good by those who honor its true principles.

Dan Snow works in corporate communications and has been a parishioner at St. Juliana for 13 years.

 

 

 

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Barb Ernat

Throughout one's spiritual journey there are often significant life-events that test our relationship with God. Often times when we are faced with a devastating setback we think that God has abandoned us and often get angry with God.

6 years ago I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s disease, and as so many caregivers experience, the journey was very challenging for our family.  As I cared for my mother I was dealing with some challenges of my own.  I often found myself asking: Why me? Why us? Why, God, are you giving me more than I can bear?

I found comfort from Robin Roberts, of Good Morning America, in her book “Everybody’s Got Something”.  She reminds readers that everyone carries burdens and hardships.   For her it was a harrowing medical diagnosis and the subsequent difficult journey through it.  Her journey was hard but there were so many that gave her hope.  In her words, everyone’s got something, but everyone’s got something to give as well.  

What I realized as I looked back at my own challenges is that all the times that I thought God wasn’t there he was actually revealing himself through so many people in my life.  It was my circle of friends, family and even strangers who gave so much; they made me realize that God was indeed everywhere around me.

As Christians we are called to carry out God’s work so that in someone’s darkest days they are able to see God through us and have hope that there are better days ahead.

A faith community brings a sense of kinship, a comfort of knowing that we are all in this together.  Maybe this Sunday you came to church with something to give or maybe you came to find hope.   Each Sunday we get an invitation to receive a smile, a kind word, an uplifting scripture, a heartfelt homily.  Sometimes we don’t even realize we need these unintentional gifts.  But they are here for the taking. 

Barb Ernat, a mom to St. Juliana preschoolers Tom and Jack, works in corporate marketing and together with her husband Ray have been members of St. Juliana for the last two years.  

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