May 6, 2020 // Diocese

God bless our holy mothers


‘She truly desired the faith’

My mother converted to Catholicism before she married my dad. The significance of her conversion did not sink in until I got older and realized how much she truly desired the faith, and what joy it would bring to put God at the heart of their marriage. She has always been a constant for me, an unwavering woman of faith.

Not long ago, I had a conversation with her that I will never forget. She began to explain the ways in which being Catholic has touched her life. I sat there listening, soaking it all in, and watched my mother begin to cry in absolute wonder and awe at what a gift the Lord has given us — a chance for salvation — and how she longed for everyone to share in that. She proceeded to thank me for raising my own children in the faith and shared that nothing brings her greater joy than for our family to seek heaven together. I know that if I continue on the path of holiness and encourage others to do the same in the ways that she has, more and more people will experience a profound love for Jesus Christ and His holy Church.

                                                                ~ Jenny Marchi

Mass, family rosaries, prayer groups and spiritual discussions

Thinking of just one memory where my mother, Michelle Rupright, has made faith meaningful to me or in which she has practiced her Catholic faith, is a difficult task. There are so many, from the early years of being dressed up and trotted off to Mass every Sunday, helping my siblings and me to learn our prayers and encouraging and helping me in leading family rosary, to constant weekly involvement in parish spiritual activities or some diocesan prayer group and growing older and having discussions about different aspects of faith and our understanding of them as an adult versus a child.

My mother is a woman of faith who has shared that faith along with her love and God’s love with her children. On behalf of my siblings Brett, Melissa, Matt and Aaron, we love you very much. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

                                                    ~ Elise Bohl, St. Aloysius

‘Offer your day to Jesus’

I was blessed to grow up in a beautiful Catholic environment. One of my fondest memories is having my mom say to me each day as I went out the door, “Offer your day to Jesus.” As I had my own children, I would often give them a blessing as they left home or went to sleep at night to remind them that Jesus walks with them, just as my mom reminded me each day as I was growing up.

                     ~ Carole Yaney, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Daughter, mother find joy in the Church

Theresa Ashe, my mother, did not become a Catholic until her early 60s. As children, my sister and I were raised in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion tradition. Yet, I knew the Catholic faith was important to my mother. Many a summer my sister and I attended St. Augustine Parish’s Vacation Bible School in South Bend. 

Growing up, I remember my mother always seeking the advice of a priest whenever she needed moral guidance.  She spoke lovingly about Mary and the Catholic faith.   

In my late 20s I was searching for God. I was invited to attend a baptism of a neighbor’s daughter and I felt so at home at the Mass. After attending Mass for several months, I  studied to become Catholic. When I told my mother I was joining the Catholic Church, she had the biggest smile on her face. Approximately 10 years later, my mother calls to tell me she was becoming Catholic. It was my turn to have a big smile.   

                                                      ~ Cheryl Ashe

Strength and faith

Thank you, Mom for the strength and faith that you have practiced throughout our lives. We will forever remember your words of wisdom to “Do your best, and God will do the rest.” Happy Mother’s Day. With love, Tony, Amanda and Angie.

                                                 ~ Amanda Davis

A faith-filled retirement

“In retirement, my mom, Dorothy Penner, continues to model what it means to give to others and the Church. She has been a lector, a member of several parish organizations, prays every week at a her holy hour, and in the past three years she has made over 700 rosaries that she donated to prisons and two parishes. So many look up to her, especially her own family. What a special lady!”   

                                                ~ Elaine Clayton 

Catholic values instilled early and often

I know my Mom, Mary E. Voors, as a really good faith-filled person. She loves God, her Catholic faith, family, friends and all. But, she is not the greatest mom. My mom always taught me  that the best of all moms is the Blessed Virgin Mary herself. Each Mother’s Day my note to my earthly Mom was always: “To the 2nd best Mommy in the world!” I am so blessed and thankful for both Moms.

                                                   ~Father David Voors

My mom, Mary E. Voors, had (and has) tremendous faith. As I was growing up, she demonstrated this faith in her day-to-day life through her devotion to the teachings of the Church, and — most markedly — by her lack of worry about problems, both big and small. She knew God would always be there to walk any path with her. Her faith in God gave her the strength to successfully raise a family of seven kids while modeling a devotion to family and spouse. Her faith gives her the ability to trust that everything will work out, as long as she is willing to live her life by serving God and obeying His commandments.

While my path in life is significantly different than hers, there are many things that my mom modeled  which I strive to emulate in my daily life;  a desire to help those less fortunate than myself,  a commitment to spouse and family, and a willingness to always find the good in people.

I am lucky to have a mom with such a strong belief system and faith. She helped make me who I am today. And, even though she can still beat me at arm wrestling — this picture was taken in  2017 when she was 94 years old, and yes, she still won — her true strength lies in her faith.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. And thank you for all you taught and teach me. I love you.

                                                 ~ Mary R. Voors

On a whiteboard in my office you will find my company’s core values:  “Faith, Fun, Family.”  I learned these values early and often from my mom. Whether it was the learning the Ten Commandment songs, or joining us for events at St. John the Baptist Parish, New Haven, or Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, and during family meals and Mass, Mom instilled those core values at all times. Laughter, love, and our Catholic faith filled our house and our hearts.

It is amazing how each of her seven kids took different paths in life, but that foundation remained solid. Each of the kids stayed true to a strong belief in Jesus as their guide — and strong families and happiness have been their reward.

Mom’s memory is beginning to fade a bit now, but her values live on  —in her kids, her grandkids and her great-grandkids. Just like when I was a kid, our family’s life revolves around our faith, our family and a lot of fun. I am so blessed to have the best Mom in the world!

                                                            ~ Jerry Voors

Before all, a faith home

I don’t recall a time in my life when my mother, Margarita DeLaCruz, and I didn’t have daily conversations. Whether we’ve lived five miles from one another or a time when we lived in different states, we’ve always made it a priority to stay in daily communication. 

Many times in our conversations my mother would share stories of how her own parents’ faith built her Catholic foundation.  My grandparents were Mexican migrant workers living in southern Texas and my mother was their second born child of 17. A devout Catholic family! One of my favorite memories is listening to my mom share how their migrant work would take them to many places and how her father would make it a priority to find the local Catholic church of every community their work led them to, even before finding their temporary housing. The Church was so important to my grandparents and their teachings instilled in my mother how she and my father would build their own family’s foundation in the Catholic Church.

I am so grateful for the love of Christ which was instilled in me and I pray that I will always model that love to all.

                                        ~ Lisa DeLaCruz-Thomas

Remembering a faithful servant

My mother was a devout Catholic and lived her life always doing for others.  She set a wonderful example for our family to follow: Her faith in God was always evident. 

In her later years, as she suffered from Alzheimer’s, there were many things she could not remember. However, when she received Communion in the nursing home, she would make the sign of the cross and was able to say the Our Father along with the eucharistic minister. She was a faithful servant. 

                     ~ Sue Stack, St. Mary of the Annunciation

An inspiration and role model

Living the Catholic faith could mean different things to each person. For my mother, Karen Orlowski, it means living each day, minute and second in faith. She is truly a role model! I love hearing my mom’s stories, especially the heart stories.

My mom gives to the Lord in so many ways including daily Mass and praying the rosary. She also helps at Church whenever she is needed, and volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. My mom is such a special person. I’m so blessed. Mom, thank you for sharing your faith with everyone who surround you!

                                                                             ~ Chelsea

Growing up, we were raised in the Catholic Church. Our parents, Dennis and Karen Orlowski, would take my sisters and me to Mass every Sunday and there was never a day they missed. Decades later and my parents still never miss a day to praise God! Their faith is an example to live by. My mom loves God, you can tell when she speaks about Him and her eyes light up. She has traveled to holy places, met the pope, and is an aspiring saint. She loves to help others however she can, especially through the power of prayer. My mom is an inspiration and admired by many for her faith. I’m grateful to have a mother like her, inspirational and caring.

                                                                           ~ Chantel  

A ‘prayer corner’ tradition

The greatest gift my mother gave to me was instilling our Catholic faith and beliefs. She always encouraged all of her kids to pray and develop a meaningful relationship with God, Mary and all the saints.

One of the things she did for us was help us to set up “prayer corners” in our bedrooms. We got to pick out our favorite prayers cards, a statue of Mary, and other religious imagery to encourage us to have a special place of prayer. As a mom now myself, this is a tradition that I want to pass down to my children. I am so grateful for the example of my mom’s faith!

                                                                ~Erin Lynch

‘Nothing is more important than striving to be closer to Jesus’

Our parents are a team in all things. Friends commented repeatedly as we grew up how united they are. Both worked together to catechize us and made sacrifices so that we could attend Catholic schools through 12th grade. In particular, our mom, Linda Wellman, prayed with us on the way to school each morning and before bed; read to us the lives of the saints; made sure we were dressed our best for Jesus each Sunday morning; and often took us to weekday Mass.

Her demeanor in prayer deeply impacted us. She always has her head bowed or eyes closed and is very respectful. She understands who she is talking to and isn’t just reciting words. She is having a conversation with someone.

As adults, we are blessed to be able to turn to Mom during trials with complete confidence that God will listen to the prayers of this holy woman, and that even if things don’t turn out like we want, we have a prayer warrior on our side.

Sacraments were the ultimate reason for celebration: cleaning, gathering family, pictures, beautiful food and plenty of cake. The baptismal gown each grandchild wore is the same one she was presented in for her own baptism. This tiny, fragile gown has become a sacramental to be preserved and cared for in our family — truly a sign of the faith that has been preserved and handed down through generations.

These days, she teaches her 11 grandchildren prayers, rosary, songs, the importance of Mass with the family, and about service to the Church. She still calls her children to ask, “When’s the last time you’ve been to confession?” Because nothing in life is more important for her than striving to be closer to Jesus each day.   

                                                                       ~Sarah Speer

‘Go with the Lord, and be careful’

Our mother Irene Anne Panzica was truly one of a kind.

She was a patriot, born in July. After World War II broke-out during her nursing training, she signed up to serve in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps.

Irene was true to the Catholic faith, passing that strong faith on to her children. No one ever left our home without a kiss and a blessing: “Go with the Lord, and be careful!”

She was determined, being first in her family to achieve higher education. As a wife and mother of eight children she gave all unconditional love and kept us safe and well cared for. Raising a special-needs child at home, she worked with other pioneering parents to help make that the norm.

Irene was caring, always putting others before herself. Having a large family, her great capacity for caring was often put to the test. Many a bloody wound or injured spirit was healed by her mother’s kiss and gentle touch.

Irene’s faith in Mary had her twice travel 5,000 miles to Medjugorje to give adoration to Our Lady. She passed in November with loving children and grandchildren by her side. Surely, she was welcomed into Heaven by Mary’s warm, motherly embrace.

                                        ~ Thomas Panzica, South Bend

Tireless prayer warrior

Many believe mothers are a reflection of God’s love. My mother, Darlene, was no exception. Growing up, she wanted to be a nun. Luckily, for our sake, that wasn’t God’s plan. Instead, He took her devotion and used it to build other’s faith.

She was a “prayer warrior:” Anytime someone I knew needed prayers, she was always the first person I’d call. Between her daily rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and countless other prayers, I figured God was bound to hear. She never denied anyone who asked her to pray for them, to the point that her rosaries would take an hour after all those intentions were said.

Unfortunately, my mom passed away last September. After her passing, several people came up to me and would say how much they loved receiving Communion from her. There was a light inside and she was always smiling. Along with that smile, she’d often have tears in her eyes. Overwhelmed and humbled by the gift she was giving others in the form of the Eucharist. And as much as she is missed, I know she is overjoyed to be with our heavenly Father. Her light still shining bright and she is praying for us all.

                                                               ~ Melissa Smith

Mother of six has consistent message: Pray

Jean Castleman, our model and mother, like Mary, prays for our needs and has taught us to be true children of God. ~ Melissa

Mom puts others before herself, even with her silent sorrows and struggles, by living her Catholic faith. ~ Bob

When Grandma Jean babysat the grandchildren, she kept up on her daily prayers and the children would fall asleep in her lap. They lovingly called the living room the “Prayer Room.” ~ Amy

After tucking in her six kids to bed, she would say night prayers; the Memorare, the Guardian Angel prayer, and she taught us to pray for each member of our family and to thank God for all He has done for us and all that we have. Those were her own special touches to teach her children to be grateful. ~ Ann Marie

Mom taught me that phone calls and visits to see my grandmas create special memories. ~ Dan

When discussing our day, whether good or bad, she would always tell us to say a prayer to God and whichever patron saint to help us with our frustrations or in thankfulness. ~ Diana

                                           ~ Melissa Skeens, Kendallville

‘He suffered for me’

Of all the beautiful things I could say about my dear mother, her powerful witness of devotion to her faith in Jesus in her suffering is the example that stands out to me. Julia Bennett suffered from breast cancer in acceptance and without complaint.

Years before, I had requested of Our Lord that whenever it was time for my parents to pass, could I please be with them?  That prayer was granted in both cases. When it was time for my mother’s passing, I was the only child of four to be in the hospital with my father, at her bedside. Even then, in her typical loving solicitude for others, she asked me to put a blanket over my father, who had fallen asleep in her hospital room. 

The day before she passed, she was taken to occupational therapy. The nurse asked her to stand with her walker and asked what her level of pain was. My darling mother calmly stated that it was a 10.  Despite that, they took her through the exercises. At the moment she stood up, my mother was the tallest she had ever been. She heroically stated as she pointed upwards, “He suffered for me.”

               ~ Cindy Bennett Robertson

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