May 28, 2021

Readers share stories of Blessed Mother’s role in their lives

A lens flare projects an interesting perspective on the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis on May 13. (Submitted photo by Victoria Arthur)

A lens flare projects an interesting perspective on the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis on May 13. (Submitted photo by Victoria Arthur)

(Editor’s note: In honor of May as the month of Mary, The Criterion recently asked readers to send in their stories of the impact of the Blessed Mother on their life and their faith. This week presents the last of four installments featuring the responses received. From Indianapolis to Napoleon, this week’s reader responses honor Mary and her desire to help her children at all stages of life.)

By Natalie Hoefer

Former DRE sees Mary’s ‘yes’ is example for all to live by

Eva Corsaro makes life decisions with one central example in mind.

“Mary’s ‘yes’ to God’s plan has a lot of meaning for me,” said Corsaro, a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Indianapolis. “I felt a deep love for Mary because of her ‘yes.’ She had no idea what she committed herself to, but Mary had enough faith in God to see his plan through.”

Her love for Mary was sparked by a second-grade teacher who reminded the class they have two mothers—their mother on Earth and their heavenly mother.

“Ever since then, I always felt like I had a real mother in Mary,” she said.

The example of Mary’s unhesitating “yes” gave Corsaro the courage to go where she felt God was calling her to go as a youth minister, leaving her lifetime home of Indianapolis to minister in New Albany at St. Mary Parish.

“I walked in their church and saw the mosaic of the Annunciation, and I just knew this was it,” she recalled of her visit to New Albany for an interview.

There, she again said yes when she was asked to become the director of religious education (DRE) in addition to serving as youth minister. And she said yes to an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s and later a master’s degree during her 11 years at the New Albany faith community.

But the biggest “yes” she embraced was when she accepted a DRE job in State College, Pa. It was one year after her position at St. Mary had been downsized.

The priest of Our Lady of Victory Parish there said Corsaro’s resumé “was the best he’d ever seen,” she recalled. “I’d been interviewing at so many places for a year, and they all said no. So for him to say what he said, I thought, ‘God is trying to tell me something.’ ”

She knew then it was time to start listening to God.

“You’ve got to shut the world off and listen,” she advised. “The parish was 450 miles away, but I decided that ‘no’ takes you nowhere, and ‘yes’ takes you places. You get to learn new things and have new experiences.”

Most importantly, said Corsaro, “God won’t let bad things happen when you seek his will. And when you say ‘yes’ like Mary, she will help you. As a DRE, I taught my kids that we can always say yes like Mary.”

Reflecting on her own life, Corsaro is grateful for Mary’s example.

“Mary never hesitated to say yes to God, and look where it got her,” she noted. “Saying yes is not always easy. But if I would’ve said no, then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

“I thank God for calling me to ministry in the Catholic Church and for Mary’s ‘yes.’ ”

Books help generations of women in Napoleon family raise their children

Susan Schutte was raised “having a special relationship with the Blessed Mother,” said the member of St. Maurice Parish in Napoleon.

From family members’ statues of Mary, to praying the rosary, to the wide array of Marian devotion books, to building altars to Mary in May, the Blessed Mother was a constant presence as she grew up.

Then came the time when Schutte started raising a family of her own.

“My grandmother had special prayer books, Mother’s Manual and The Blue Lady,” she recalled. “She gave them to my mother when she married and had children. After I was married, my mother passed those prayer books on to me.”

The books had prayers “for everything you could think of,” said Schutte, “asking the Blessed Mother to help you to be a good wife, have a safe pregnancy, to be a good mother and prayers of a mother for her children.

“These books were on my nightstand, and I prayed them often.”

Although her children are now grown, Schutte still prays with the devotional books. They help her cope with the recent loss of her husband and her sister.

“I ask Mary for guidance as I handle” their deaths, she said. “I talk to her all the time—asking for help with decision-making, for help to still be a good mother and grandmother.

“When you look at Mary’s litany and all the things it lists—mother of mercy, queen of peace—she’s all those things.

“She is the mother of all mothers.”

Mary ‘loves us as she loves her own son’

Paula Stahl credits “various spiritual events” to drawing her closer to Mary.

After one such event, she said, “I decided to turn off the soap operas and pick up my rosary! She really wants us to pray it daily.”

Another experience that drew Stahl closer to the Blessed Mother was reading True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort.

“After reading that so long ago, I made a formal consecration to [Jesus through] Our Lady,” said the member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis. “We can’t even comprehend her love for us. She loves us as she loves her own son.”

Now Stahl can’t get close enough to Mary.

“She is our mother given to us by Christ on the cross,” she noted. “I want to continuously study her virtues and grow in graces, as I believe Mary is our perfect example of love of God and neighbor.

“She helps me accept my daily joys and sorrows in this life and will lead me to Jesus.”

Woman reminisces about her late mother—and Mary’s gift

Wilma Dean Hunt “made some bad choices” as a young adult. The admission comes from her daughter, Vicki Goss.

But the influence of one woman—Mable Butcher—when Hunt was a divorced mother of two led to the lifelong influence of another woman in Hunt’s life—the Blessed Mother.

Butcher was “a devout Catholic woman who was a member of [the former] Assumption Parish on the west side of Indianapolis,” said Goss. “Mom so admired Mabel and her strong faith that she became Catholic” and had her daughters baptized as well.

Life presented Hunt with a series of tragedies, starting with a painful back injury when she was hit be a car.

She married a “devout Catholic man” in 1958 with whom she had a son. But her husband died suddenly in 1961.

Later that same year, her oldest daughter, Linda, died in a car accident.

Hunt married again and had two more sons, but that marriage, too, ended in divorce.

“But Mom always said, ‘God has a plan,’ ” Goss recalled. “She thought of Mary and how she endured the suffering and death of her Son, and drew strength from that every day.

“She did a wonderful job of making sure her children were raised Catholic. She made a lot of sacrifices for that to happen.”

In 1996, Hunt tragically lost a son when he fell from a building.

But her faith persisted, even after having to give up her job as a hairdresser in 2007 due to a stroke. Seven years later, she entered St. Paul Hermitage, a home for the aged in Beech Grove run by the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

Hunt suffered another stroke in 2017. She did not recover from this one and died on Nov. 20 of that year. Goss was holding her hand and praying the rosary.

“When I was praying the Memorare, I could feel her leaving me,” she said. “For the last five months that she had been confined to bed, she had been praying to the Blessed Mother for the perfect death.”

Later, cleaning out her mother’s purse, Goss found a Miraculous Medal she’d never seen before.

“I like to think this was my mother’s final gift to me, and I wear it on a bracelet as a constant reminder of the wonderful gift that Mary gave my mother and me. … I am forever grateful for the intercession of Mary to her son to grant my mother the most beautiful, perfect ending to her life.” †

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