If you remember, a few weeks ago I wrote that I met with Fr. Bob because in prayer I felt that he had the next "puzzle piece" or was a link to the "puzzle pieces" I needed regarding this conference that I feel called to put on. Man o man, did that prove to be true.
We set out for Warsaw this morning, a party of 5 including our two Priests, our Deacon and our Director of Christian Initiation. Near the end of our hour drive I asked the group what the conference was going to be on. Deacon responded that a priest named Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. was going to present. All I knew about him was that my mother-in-law has spoken highly of him, she has sent me several excellent articles that he has authored and that she strongly felt that I should meet him. While I interiorly agreed that I would love to meet this Fr. Tad, how was I going to accomplish that? I didn't even know where to find him. Well, I got my answer today. He was going to present at this conference. God-incidence #1
So I knew that the conference pertained to Bioethics, but what aspects? End-of-life issues? Cloning? Stem cell research? Organ transplant? Nope. Imagine my utter shock when I picked up my conference folder and the label read "The Ethics of Reproductive Technologies." What? You mean this entire conference was going to be on Reproductive Technologies??? You have got to be kidding me. I thought I was in heaven.
We arrived 20 minutes late and were told to slip around the side and up in the front there would be empty chairs. So we tried to slip in without making a disruption (fat chance) but there were no seats and any table in the front. So instead, some kind people at the front let us sit with them, and as I was preparing to thank the kind man in clerics for offering pulling up a chair for me, I realized that the priest I would be sitting with was indeed Bishop D'Arcy. :) Imagine that. As I tried to gather and focus my attention on Fr. Tad, who had already begun to speak, I did a quick glance around the table to see who else was sitting with us and there were Lisa and Fred Everett (Directors of Family Life for the Diocese) and Dr. Patrick Holly (who is NaPro doctor in Fort Wayne). My jaw probably visible dropped and I had to have appeared dumbfounded. Why? Because for the last several months, as I have prayed and asked God for direction regarding this conference He's calling me to put on, I knew that I would meet with Bishop D'Arcy and also Fred and Lisa. I just wasn't sure how that was going to happen. I mean, what do you do, call the Bishop's office and say, "Hi, I'm a random nobody and I'd like to meet with the Bishop"? I mean come on. And Fred and Lisa don't know me from Eve. So for the past few months I have known that I needed to meet them and believed I would, I just didn't know how...and look how easy God made it for me. Poof. All together at one table. As I sat there taking it all in (listening to Fr. Tad speak in the background) all I could hear was God saying to me, "See Suzy, I am faithful in keeping my promises." I began to cry.
I cried a good deal through Fr. Tad's excellent presentation. Not because it was hard to hear or made me sad, but rather because I was so ecstatic that people were there, listening, interested, and that there were finally discussions being had on Catholic Reproductive Technologies. In a room full of maybe 100 people (mostly priests of the diocese), we were educating people on morally acceptable routes of dealing with infertility. This is the groundwork to be laid if we really want to help people stop eating from the dumpster.
During lunch, Bishop and I had the opportunity to talk and he asked me to tell him about myself and my story. I told him of my conversion to the Catholic faith in 2003, working at Culver Academies, about my time working for Franciscan University of Steubenville in Austria, about marrying Dave, our journey of infertility and about Hannah's Tears. He was so attentive and I can only thank him for his kindness and compassion. I felt like he and I were the only two people in the room and his assurance that he would be praying for us "in a very special way" meant the world to me. At one point I even told him, "you know, Bishop, I don't think you're through with me yet, I think we are going to work together on this" (this being furthering education on morally acceptable reproductive technologies)...he smiled and chuckled (he has the most wonderful, compassionate eyes). We talked, really just the two of us, throughout lunch and near the end, he suggested that I share my story with the group. I was a bit stunned. Here? Now? But he encouraged me to go up during the Q&A panel and get the microphone and so I did.
Talk about a "Come, Holy Spirit" moment.
I honestly don't remember what I all I said. It seems like I hardly touched on anything that I had wanted to say and I didn't even mention that I have been treated with NaPro for the last 3 years....oh well. But I do remember telling how happy I was that we were having a conference like this, because as one of the 8 million individuals facing infertility in the US right now, I could attest that it is a very lonely road and we need all the support we can get. I relayed how priests have helped us to see this as our own way of the cross and to unite our suffering with that of Christ, and how other priests, like ones in the Basilica at Notre Dame had encouraged us to try IVF, and how this broke my heart. I commended them for being her today, thanked the speakers (Fr. Tad, and Dr. Holly) for their contributions and then encouraged the priests to keep learning and to go back and share the truth, power and beauty of the Church's teaching with their congregations. I also told them about Hannah's Tears and said to feel free to share the ministry with anyone who they felt would benefit. At the end, I remember thinking that of the four things that bishop asked me to share I only felt that I hit two of them at most, but he seemed pleased and complimented me on what I had said.
Dr. Holly's talk was incredible as well. I can't believe that we have a NaPro doctor (with obstetrics) here in Indiana. I had no idea. What a blessing. I would still have needed to go elsewhere for my surgery because Dr. Holly doesn't do NaPro surgical procedures, but still...I am so glad he's here. His presentation was wonderful and included an overview of the Creighton Model of NFP and numerous charts describing the successes of NaPro. Wow. What a day.
But, all too soon, the day was over and as we rushed out the door in order to get back to Granger on time, I ran up to Bishop and thanked him again for everything. He complimented me again on my speaking (even in front of others standing by) and told me to call his office and we would get together. God! You are so faithful. In the times when I doubt, and feel forgotten, you have shown me in a heartbeat that you ARE so faithful in keeping your promises. You have instructed my heart in the past few months, and have told me that all of these meetings would come to pass, and now here, in one short day, you have made it all happen. You are so good to me. Thank you.
There are a million more things I could touch upon, like the joy of seeing so many priest friends from the diocese, getting to meet other individuals that I had hoped to meet, the wonderful conversation on the car ride home, etc....but really, I think I've said more than enough. Let's leave it at that.
In the end, I made some great connections, had some very anointed conversations and I believe with all my heart that my life is going to change soon. God is so faithful.