12/2/23 Advent Gathering
There was a cool breeze blowing on the the evening of Saturday,December 2, 2023 at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius of Loyola. About 50 Community members gathered in the Family Life Center shared their culinary creations for the potluck dinner, joined in fellowship at each table and listened to witness speaker, Katy Walsh, share a ministry she and Steve have been expanding over the years.
Good evening my sisters and brothers! My name is Kathy Walsh. My husband Steve and I worship at St. Andrew in Stuart. I experienced Women’s Cursillo #47 at the Upper Room at Cardinal Newman Highschool in 1994 and I sat at the table of Our Lady of Grace.
BELIEVE! We see this sign on paintings, wooden wall hangings and other decorations at this time of the year – usually with a reference to Santa Claus and the “magic” of Christmas. However, we as Catholic Christians know the true meaning of believe (hold up the flag with the Believe) – believe in the miracle of Jesus birth. Babies – new life – birth.
I was in my car on October 12th when I received the call from our sister Barbara to give this witness talk. I called to mind the scripture reading from that morning – Luke Chapter 11, Verses 9 and 10:
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
Later that day, Peggy Rowe-Linn posted on Facebook that October 11th was the Feast Day of Our Lady of La Leche. I knew then what my talk would focus on.
As we enter into Advent, we focus on 4 things in the next few weeks – Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
HOPE! When Steve and I got married in 1981 – we were hoping and praying to have a baby. I miscarried about 4 months into our marriage and went on to lose 2 more babies. It was a very sad time for us. We decided to make a trip to St. Augustine for a get away as I had never been there before. We toured the city and stumbled upon the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios and the shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. We learned of the history of the site of the first Mass the new world and found the Chapel dedicated to mothers. We went into the chapel to pray and lit a candle that if it be God’s will, I would have a viable pregnancy. After that visit I was gifted with PEACE. That was May of 1983. Our only lovely daughter Jennifer was born April 2 of 1984. Our first miracle gifted to us with the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
Over the years we would visit St. Augustine and stop by the Shrine – not really for a specific reason – just to be on that holy ground.
It wasn’t until our daughter was married in 2008 that we went for a specific purpose. Our daughter got pregnant on her honeymoon and lost the baby a few months later. We flew to Buffalo to be with her to comfort her. Finding out that she was again expecting, we visited the Shrine to specifically pray for her and her unborn child. In June of 2009 we were blessed with our first grandchild, Leah Katherine. She went on to gift us with 3 more grandchildren. JOY!!!
That began our ministry of praying for women trying to conceive, women who were pregnant for a safe delivery of a healthy baby, and women who had lost their babies. We began to share this with other friends, relatives and our Cursillo community. Our friend’s daughter was a little older and was trying to get pregnant. We prayed for her and about 9 months later, she delivered her first daughter. At an Advent gathering, Sue Flanagan asked us to pray for her son and daughter-in-law as they had just miscarried. Little Emily was born within the next year. We were honored to be invited to her baptism, in the Shrine Chapel, with Father Brian King.
From the time we have shared this prayer ministry with our community, we have been honored to participate in this ministry of prayer, faith and belief in God with many of our Cursillo brothers and sisters. Over the last 16 years we have prayed for over 110 babies. We usually go to St Augustine the weekend of Martin Luther King’s holiday in January, which also happens to be the Right to Life weekend in the town. They erect thousands of white crosses on the grounds representing the babies lost due to abortion and celebrate Mass on the Shrine grounds. Earlier this year Pat and Peggy O’Hara were able to join us and offered their own prayers for their family.
This June we were in NC visiting Steve’s college friends and we asked about their daughter Jenna and her new husband as part of our conversation. Her mom said they have been trying to conceive since they were married a few years prior. We explained about our prayer ministry – they are not Catholic – and asked if we could pray for their daughter Jenna. They of course said yes. We knew we would be stopping in St. Augustine on our way home, so we were sure to light a candle and pray for them. About 3 weeks ago, we went to St. Augustine to pray and pick up some prayer cards and to visit with some Cursillo friends. I texted our friends in NC and inquired about their daughter. She quickly texted that Jenna was pregnant doing well and the baby looked healthy and she is due in April. Praise God!!! Thank you Our Lady of La Leche. We have so many stories that are similar – miracles!
Our prayer is always – if it be God’s will – please let this woman conceive and have a baby to know you, love you and serve you. Msgr Blasé, one of our dear priests says – yes – pray always to God – but Jesus is a good loving Jewish son – he always listens to his Mother’s pleas.
LOVE – this is really what it’s all about. We all love our Lord and His Mother and they love us unconditionally and only want for us what will bring us hope, peace, joy and love.
May our good Lord give you His peace, joy and love during this Holy Season. God Bless You!