By Denise Scott – sub-editor of our Women’s blog.
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At first, the young couple considered aborting their unborn child. This would be their second child and they were not yet really ready for marriage. But the mother could not go through with it.
When the child was born, she was covered in sores and the doctors did not think she would live past a week. There was nothing more they could do, they said, so they sent her home to die.
The young mother never accepted defeat, so she took her daughter to La Divina Pastora—they told her miracles happened there. The young mother pleaded with God to save her child. Forty-eight years later, that child sits here writing her story.
For as long as I can remember, my life has just been one big gratitude journal to God. The first year in which I wrote the Common Entrance examination, I passed for Couva Junior Secondary.
I should have been happy to have just passed, but my father had instilled in me that I was more brilliant than most, and so I never believed that I passed for my third choice.
My mother was a ferocious mother bear, so she went to the Ministry to query my marks and was told that I performed in the top 100 in the country but because my name began with ‘S’ and that because county Caroni had fewer five-year schools than other counties, they had no choice but to put me there.
We were not people who cared about ‘prestige schools’ back then and my mother told me I could excel in any environment, but even at ten years old, I knew that God was calling me in a different direction.
Against all my teachers and relatives advice I chose to repeat and then the next year successfully passed for my first choice of Holy Faith Convent (HFC).
That in itself is not an aggrandising story but I hope it helps you to understand who I was even as a child, because to this day, which has been one of my most defining moments: a ten-year-old who believed in the dream God put in her heart.
Going to HFC defined me. I met everyone I ever needed to meet to navigate my teenage and adult life. My friends from Form One are still some of the most important women in my life today, people who check in on me, support me, inspire, and motivate me.
But more than the amazing friendships, it was where I found my unshakeable faith in God. The same God who saved the unborn child and the sore-ridden baby had guided me into the arms of the Holy Faith Sisters.
Years later, I would become the youngest Holy Faith Associate working as I still do today to fly the flag of the charisms of the Holy Faith Sisters (CHF) in Trinidad and Tobago.
While I still can’t understand how a nice, young, ‘spring chicken’ like me could be 48 years old, I did want to impart some wisdom as all old people must when we are of age.
Sometimes, Church hurts you: For even as love crowns you, so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth, so is he for your pruning. (Khalil Gibran)
In 1994, Sr Columba CHF introduced me to the work of Khalil Gibran and that quote is an expression of my relationship with the Catholic Church. I love the Church but oftentimes the same Church has caused me so much pain.
I cry sometimes because I have experienced abandonment, neglect, and injustice here, but I have mostly experienced joy, love, and gratitude. I have held onto memories like that Saturday afternoon when my parish priest and band of evangelisers came to my house and started taking me to church at 14 years old. The Church that claimed me and showed God’s love to me in thousands of ways. My advice: Don’t give up on us.
I found God then left religion: I have found the most active Catholics are sometimes the meanest and most judgemental. So, as I grew older and more involved in church, I pray to bring love to the table versus judgement.
I am always weighing how the world would quicker celebrate (who my mother could have been) a woman who aborted the child in her womb (because it is done in secret) versus (who my mother was) the woman who chose to bring life into the world in spite of the judgement of the religious people around her. My advice: Don’t let the rules of religion make you unloving.
Take a chance on people: In 1999, when I approached Editor Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp and Associate Editor June Johnston and asked to produce a woman’s supplement in the Catholic News they said yes without a blink.
Every quarter, they made me feel like I was a superstar. I never really saw myself picking up a pen again, but two years ago Fr Robert Christo, out of nowhere, decided that I should revitalise the woman’s magazine. My advice: Giving people a chance is the only way I believe that the Church can really grow.
Family is really the first Church: My parents were far from religious, but they had such a deep faith in God. To this day, neither of my parents can be defined as devout anything, but everyone can tell you about their goodness and their kindness. I used to wonder why God chose my parents and siblings for me. Now I know the answer. My advice: Appreciate your family.
Thank you: I am grateful for all the persons that God has put in my path, the joy and the pain that live under the same skin, and I am grateful for both.
At the start of the pandemic, a dear friend passed away but just weeks before we laughed at how great and blessed, we were to be in each other’s lives. Days after he passed away. I was sad but happy that we shared our appreciation for each other before he passed away.
My advice: Be sure to thank the people that matter.
And if you have read this to the end (because you had time or you wanted to maco), just say a prayer that God would continue to hide me in His bosom and that I may always feel blessed and that I can be a blessing.