May 16, 2023 // Diocese
Finding Belonging in A Time of Sadness
Prayer is powerful and the benefits are boundless. On the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a special Hope for the Journey Mother’s Day Mass for those who struggle with infertility was celebrated by Father Julius Okojie at St. Thérese Little Flower Church in South Bend.
“Around this time, it’s easy to feel forgotten by the Church,” said Anna McKeever, who leads the Hope for the Journey group in South Bend. It’s a ministry within the diocese that offers spiritual, emotional, and practical support that is rooted in the Catholic faith for anyone experiencing infertility or secondary infertility. She hopes that everyone who attended “felt a sense of solidarity and belonging.”
Father Julius Okojie began his homily by saying, “We thank God for this opportunity and we’re offering the Holy Mass, which we believe was the sacrifice of Jesus, and of course the highest form of prayer that we can offer. We’re offering this Holy Mass asking for your intentions. I know you’ve been to so many Masses. I know you’ve been to so many. Pray again because I know you’ve asked people to pray for you. Those are good things. Just don’t stop. Just continue to do that. And I must commend you for your faith and hope. And before, even when it seems that prayer sometimes is hopeless, or when it seems like the Word is so distant to your pleas, the Word is so deaf to whatever your cries might be. Your situation is real and we do not dismiss it or undermine it. It takes a lot of courage.”
He recalled a recent meal where he was seated with people in academia talking about their research work. During the moment, he found himself wanting to change the conversation to something real that he can relate to and mentioned how hard it must be for the families at the Mass to go through those same types of moments with friends and family talking about their adventures in child-rearing. Father Okojie said he could only imagine the many emotions felt by families as the Church celebrates motherhood for those with fertility issues.
“We honor the gift of motherhood and we’re very grateful for it. Otherwise, if none of us have parents, then we will not be here. But also, we recognize that there’s different vocations of life and our vocation as parents and as men and women could be too,” said Father Okojie, who noted that parenting in the Bible took different forms other than biological child-rearing. “Because even in true scripture you have multiple people who had difficulty raising children at all.”
“Today we offer you the space to bear your hearts,” noted Father Okojie. “To recognize that that the Lord is still in the business of working miracles and the Lord is not done with me yet. As smooth as that might sound, I know you live the reality and it might be different for you, but I just want you not to lose the fact that God is still God of Miracles.”
The readings of the weekend were set in anticipation of Pentecost and Father Okojie offered solace to the crowd to look to the Holy Spirit.
“The greatest gift of Jesus is a gift of the Holy Spirit,” said Father Okojie, noting how hard it is to rejoice when families feel the pain of infertility. “And how do I rejoice for this while in so much pain? Dear friends, I don’t have an answer to that. But I want to show you that I will pray for you and I will be praying for you. That’s the way we’re to bring you consolation.”
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