Have you ever acted on a prompting within your heart before your thoughts interfered? I have! When Jerry Usher and Debbie Georgianni, hosts of my favorite call-in radio show “Take 2 With Jerry & Debbie,” invited listeners to apply for their internship program, I composed the email, hit send, and wheels were set in motion before my shocked brain could catch up. I could not have foreseen, nor planned on my own accord, the perfect timing of what was to come.
As one of 12 interns, I was awed to be on the Retreat Team and learn it would be held at St Bernard Abbey Retreat Center in Cullman, Alabama. Weeks earlier, Jerry & Debbie hosted “Take 2” from there, and sensing the serenity, I was determined to visit one day. How humbling that my leap of faith was bringing about this blessing in my life. I was on Cloud Nine!
The planning came together and in February, I was privileged to serve others as an intern, experiencing not only St Bernard’s, but also the nearby Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament where Mother Angelica, Founder of EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) is laid to rest. I even had the joy of touring EWTN studios, watching Jerry & Debbie host their live show and the honor of staying in one of the guesthouses on the property!
We bonded immediately as we gathered at EWTN. Here are a few of us Thursday morning on our way into the studio for the show.
I woke early Friday to attend 7am mass, which is taped daily and aired across the global TV network. Back home my mom set record and we have since had multiple viewings of my television debut!
Our team arrived at St Bernard Abbey Retreat Center Friday afternoon. While we prepared to greet the retreat attendees, Brother Marion showered his gift of hospitality upon us. I heard about his amazing espresso and it lived up to all expectations!
From the food and accommodations to the Abbey grounds, I felt cloaked in peace, joy, and rest, all while serving and connecting with the retreat attendees. Though a rainy weekend, most of us managed a peaceful stroll through the stunning 4-acre Ave Maria Grotto with its 125 miniature replicas of historic buildings and shrines of the world.
A special highlight was visiting the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which Mother Angelica was inspired to build in the mid 1990’s. The website describes, “Truly a manifestation of Divine Providence, the Shrine remains a beautiful oasis of prayer, a true refuge for those seeking solace and peace in the arms of the Savior…” Photos are not permitted inside the Shrine, but I did snap a photo in the crypt.
“I’m not afraid to fail… I’m scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, “Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more.”
How providential that my leap of faith a year earlier landed me right in the lap of the fruits of Mother Angelica’s own trust in God at a time when I needed it most. Life can take unexpected turns, and just two days prior to my departure, I sat in a neurosurgeon’s office processing the diagnosis of a tumor inside my husband’s spinal cord and an extremely risky surgery the following week to remove it. My “Cloud Nine” excitement was suddenly plagued with dark stormy clouds of uncertainty and questions over whether I should even make the trip.
I am so grateful I cast aside fear and anchored myself to the example of Mother Angelica’s faith, knowing in my heart there was no better place of peace and serenity than to be with the retreat team and all the attendees at such a beautiful place. The timeliness of the gift of these four days in Alabama will forever be a miracle to me!
Next time you feel a prompting, remember your response might land you right where you need to be – and provide strength and resolve for your next leap of faith!
Inspired to read more about the life, struggles and faith of Mother Angelica? I recommend: Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve, and a Network of Miracles
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And the beautiful St Bernard Abbey
I am happy to report that my husband’s surgery is behind us and while the road of healing and recovery will be long, we are grateful to be on that path!