April 16, 2021

Friend’s wisdom guides a woman during challenging time

Evan and Jo Griffiths pose for a family photo with their three great-grandchildren, Mykiah, 16, Aidan, 14, and Lola, 13. Members of SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, the Griffiths were able to give their great-grandchildren a Catholic education at the parish school with the help of Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, more commonly known as the voucher program. (Submitted photo)

Janet and Michael Tosick, members of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington, have expanded their prayer life during the pandemic. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: As part of our coverage of the ongoing influence that the pandemic is having on the faith lives of people, The Criterion invited our readers to share their experiences.)

Fifth part of a series

By John Shaughnessy

It’s one of the best pieces of advice that Janet Schnorr Tosick has received about facing the challenges of the pandemic and making the most of one’s life.

The advice came from her friend, Providence Sister Susan Dinnin, who told Tosick, “Don’t worry about doing big things, but live each day with intention.”

As part of her connection with the Sisters of Providence at Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods, Tosick recently volunteered in their annual phone-a-thon, contacting potential donors. She found that Sister Susan’s advice rang true in many of the calls she made.

“There were a few women I’ll never forget,” says Tosick, a member of St. Paul Catholic Center in Bloomington. “There was a woman who recently lost her husband of 63 years. It was a blessing to listen to her stories and share her sadness.

“Another woman was lonely for her grandchildren whom she hadn’t seen in a year because of COVID. Then I heard the excitement of a woman who had her vaccine shots and was soon leaving to visit her grandchildren. Another woman entertained me with stories of her husband. We laughed and shared coincidences in our lives.”

Tosick and her husband Michael have also used the time of the pandemic to reconnect with people from different points in their lives.

“We had hard times missing friends and family,” she says. “Recently, I wrote a list of friends and family to call and pray for during and after Lent. We are thankful we are able to write a note, say ‘I love you’ and stay in touch.

“As we continue calling friends, their warmth and our excitement in hearing their voices are beautiful. This has been a blessing for me and Michael.”

The blessings have extended to their faith journey together.

“Our faith and praying as a couple have expanded,” she says. “We pray for COVID victims, the end of abortion, for our parents, all priests, Pope Francis, world peace and our family members.”

Her approach of living life with intention continues to guide her.

“As I smile while wearing a mask, I am finding God in small miracles, and hope to bring peace and love to others.”

‘The Great Reset’

Monica Santangelo uses an intriguing phrase to describe the impact that

COVID-19 has had on her relationship with God.

She calls it “The Great Reset.”

There were times in the past when “all the outside distractions” of life seemed to make it hard for her to get as close to God as she wanted. And then the pandemic brought its own challenges.

Churches were closed, and opportunities to personally receive Christ in the Eucharist were no longer available.

So Santangelo searched for ways to replace those missing parts of her faith life. That search has led her to a deeper relationship with God.

“I began watching the Mass on YouTube. It was a poor substitute from worshiping in person, but it would have to do,” says the member of Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis.

“I discovered some Catholic programs on YouTube and priests like Father Mark Goring, Father Mike Schmitz and Father James Altman. These priests and programs I watch daily. In me, there was a significant awakening and yearning for God and the Mass.”

She now prays the rosary daily. She says she has also grown to rely upon God completely.

“Watching these priests and Catholic programs made clear to me that God’s natural law is what is perfect for me and all people. ‘The Great Reset’ has made my faith stronger, my trust in God stronger and my love of God stronger.”

‘I thank God every night’

Like many people, Angela Gilmer has needed a connection with others during this past year of the pandemic.

Hoping that connection would also help her grow in her Catholic faith, Gilmer started searching for an online rosary site. After trying several that she describes as “sterile and impersonal,” she found just what she was looking for at www.praytherosary.com/live.

“I’m not sure how I even found this site, but since October I have prayed every night with this group—every night!” says Gilmer, a member of St. Lawrence Parish in Indianapolis. “What separates this rosary prayer site is that it’s live and interactive. Starting with the national shutdown in March of 2020, two men have prayed the rosary daily, live and in real time on the internet. They log on at or around 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.

“People who are on the site can offer their intentions by posting them on the comment section. Between the decades, they read the intentions out loud as we all watch the postings scroll by and offer our prayers for them.”

Another bonus of the website is that it offers a monthly retreat via a Zoom meeting, Gilmer says.

“Because of this website, I have grown in my faith so much deeper. Knowing that hundreds of people are praying with me from all over the world at the same time is comforting and inspiring. I encourage all to log on at 9:30 p.m. to experience this global rosary community. I thank God every night that he guided me to it.” †

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