November 18, 2022

A faith community and friendships lead a woman from despair to gratitude

Sharon Montieth, left, and Brenda Henry of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis have helped each other in their journeys of faith. (Submitted photo)

Sharon Montieth, left, and Brenda Henry of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis have helped each other in their journeys of faith. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: As Thanksgiving approaches, The Criterion is featuring stories of gratitude shared by our readers.)

By John Shaughnessy

Sharon Montieth knows from personal experience how someone can feel overwhelmed by life, to the point where it doesn’t seem there is a way out of the tough times, the hopelessness.

She has also personally experienced the great difference that friends and a faith community can make in helping lead someone from despair to hope, from worry to gratitude.

It’s all part of the journey that Montieth has traveled in the past eight years, starting when she began the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, seeking to enter into full communion of the Church. That journey began after she witnessed the faith of Jamie and Richard Griffith, parishioners who also became friends.

“When I entered RCIA in 2014, I was introduced to a caring, dedicated, faithful community,” she notes. “I was very sick eight years ago, my circumstances were quite unstable, and the anxiety for the well-being of my children was high. I give all glory to God with tremendous thanksgiving for the life-saving graces he bestowed on me through St. Joan of Arc.”

She credits the parish’s pastor at the time, Father Guy Roberts, for helping her set aside her fears, “to believe a new life was possible, and to always trust in the love of Jesus.”

She also saw how that love of Jesus was the foundation of the help that she and her children received from the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities and the St. Joan of Arc’s women’s ministry led by Melinda Rivelli.

“They helped me move last year into a safe, clean, beautiful space we are beyond blessed to call home,” Montieth says. “I’m prayer partners with several of the volunteers from my RCIA group, work with others in different ministries, and Brenda Henry, my sponsor into the Church, is a dear friend.

“My health struggles are chronic, but the staff and parishioners of St. Joan of Arc fortify me with acceptance and spur me to growth despite limitations.”

Her journey has also led her into God’s embrace, she says.

“It’s difficult to describe the complete wretchedness I felt eight years ago, though it’s important to look back and thank God for his mercies as they are truly never-ending. Being a member of St. Joan of Arc has afforded me the remarkable privilege of helping care for and serve others, humbly allowing them to do the same for me, and continually striving to take everything back to God with gratitude and then to listen.”

Part of her journey of gratitude has included becoming recently invested as a Benedictine novice oblate of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad.

“I’m more at peace when the rhythm of my days is structured around worship, and they’re made all the more sweet knowing my monks are praying during those hours,” she says.

“I’m closer to our Lord and his body because of the love I’ve received from my Church. I hope I never tire of recalling and praising Christ’s goodness.” †

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