Anne was very involved with the Church in a very active and forward looking parish. She was a reader and a Eucharistic minister, gave talks and ran courses in the parish and the diocese.

The parish priest was moved and replaced by a man with a completely different view of Church and community. He dissolved the parish council, and said he did not need readers or ministers. Lay participation for him meant attendance at mass: he wanted, “no interference in the running of his parish,”

Anne struggled on for some time, but, feeling rejected and uncomfortable she stopped going to church altogether.

Some years later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, after two attacks of breast cancer, the disease had spread to lungs and bone. Family and friends were praying for her, but all hesitated to bring up the subject of faith, feeling she had enough to cope with at that time. Meanwhile, Anne was wanting to return to church but did not like just to walk in on her own after such a long absence, not confident about her welcome.

Having failed to prod family and friends in to action, God had to try another route!

One day, Anne answered the door to two strangers. They were from the local parish, and, as part of Mission Week, were visiting all the houses in the district. After hearing her story, the visitors invited her to come next evening to a penitential and communion service. The welcome she received when arriving at the church was reassuring.

Just as Anne was wondering if it would be acceptable for her to receive communion, the priest made an announcement. He talked about the cleansing of the penitential service and that they should feel free to receive The Lord. Anne felt as if the message was a sign just for her.

She enjoyed the support and consolation of the Church, the sacraments and the parish community for the final months of her life.

At her funeral, the young priest celebrating the requiem mass told the congregation that Anne had been partially responsible for him becoming a priest. Many years earlier he had been inspired, by one of her talks, to get more involved in the Church. He later went on to ordination.

God really does work in mysterious ways.

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