If there is any one person who is responsible for giving me my faith, it is my grandmother. I was baptized when I was 6 months old, mostly at the insistence of my grandmother. The priest was reluctant to baptize me, because he doubted that I would be raised Catholic. However, the curate and my grandmother pestered his enough and he relented. The pastor was right and I wasn't raised a Catholic.
I used to spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who brought me to daily Mass with her. One of my earliest memories of Vavo is watching Msgr. McFarland on the TV Mass and rosary from Boston. My grandmother taught me all the basic Catholic prayers and traditional Portuguese hymns.
When I was 7 years old, one of my friends mentioned that she was going to start CCD classes. I asked my mother why I wasn't going to CCD too. She wasn't too happy to hear me ask. I pestered her enough and we started going to the Episcopalian church. I attended their Sunday School for a few weeks, but it wasn't what I wanted. I kept telling my parents that I wanted to be Catholic. I wore them down and I started CCD classes. We also started attended Mass every weekend. I would go to daily Mass with my grandmother whenever I was able to.
I learned more about the faith at my grandmother's knee than I ever did in CCD. Her love of God and His Church instilled the same in me. I know that my love for the Church made her very happy and she did everything she could to encourage me.
Vavo passed away on this date, fifteen years ago. She was 89 years old and I was 13. She was thrilled about our new bishop and she was sure that he would do great things. I spoke with her the night before she died and she asked me to make sure I welcomed him to the diocese. The very last thing she said to me was, "Jesus and Mary are there in the corner. I'm not afraid because I'm not alone". No one had any idea that would be the last time we would talk with her, but I have no doubt that they were there in the corner.
The next morning, she was gone. One chapter in my life and faith was over and another was just beginning.
On that day my diocese installed a new bishop. He was a kind franciscan bishop with a beard and a warm smile. He virtually unheard of, at least as far as we were concerned, but he changed our diocese and my life forever. The time I spent with Bishop Sean took the faith which had been instilled in by my grandmother and helped it to grow. He introduced me to people and gave me opportunities I never dreamed possible. It's strange how things work sometimes.
Vavo, thanks for your love and for sharing your faith with me. You gave me many gifts through the years, but faith was by far the greatest.
Avé Maria, cheia de graça, o Senhor é convosco. Bendita sois vós entre as mulheres; bendito é o fruto do vosso ventre, Jesus. Santa Maria, mãe de Deus, rogai por nós, pecadores, agora e na hora da nossa morte. Amen
Vavo, eu amo te.