When I was eight years old my dad passed away. I had several conversations with the nuns at St. Ladislaus School about Jesus needing my dad, how he will look out for me and be my guardian angel. I was sad, confused, angry, and felt abandoned by God. I gave God the silent treatment. I continued to attend Catholic School, prayed my bedtime prayers, and attended Mass regularly under direct motherly supervision. In my heart I was silent with God. I even recall slyly sticking my tongue out towards the crucifix while attending Mass.
I stayed angry and silent with the Lord for many years. In 5th grade, as we were learning about the rosary something changed. Our teacher shared a story of a person who feverishly prayed the rosary, and upon her death, each rosary bead she prayed became a flowered step leading her to heaven. That story resonated with me. I decided to take out the rosary I received on my First Communion and pray it at bedtime. I did so every night for a year.
In 6th grade, we received our first Bible. I was told that this was the word of God speaking to me directly. I would allow the pages to fall randomly to an open page and read what I believed was meant for me. It is then that I started listening, reflecting, talking to the Lord. I added favorite hymns and verses to my devotional artillery as I completed my Confirmation. The Spirit came alive within me!
During my teen years I was blessed with meeting several adults who continued to help me adore the Father, communicate with the Son, and work for the faith through the Holy Spirit. Father Steve Kanonik was one of those people! I ministered throughout my high school, college years, up until I had my first child.
When Father Steve left St. Ladislaus, my family & I followed him to St. Juliana. My husband and I have been blessed with 3 miracles ages 11, 8, and 8. I share with them my faith journey & how it develops daily. I share with them that the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints are our heavenly family to be reached out to and communicated with. God is our Father, our exceptional parent. Just as I protect my children, nurture them, and provide for them, so does the Father above. He does not coddle nor spoil. The goal is for us to become capable, collaborative, and strong. God bestows blessings and graces as HE sees fit. I teach my children, “If God closes one door, pray in the hallway until He opens the next, and the blessings will fall upon you as a cleansing rain nourishes the earth.”
Joanna Wozniak is a teacher, mother of three, and has been a parishioner of Saint Juliana for fifteen years.