My Extraordinary Journey of Faith

05-08-2016Encountering ChristDolores Berardi

My parents were Italian Immigrants who came to America during the early 1930's. My mother, having been taught by nuns in a Catholic boarding school in Italy, was very strict. She walked to Church with us every Sunday. My two siblings and I loved going to Church because afterwards we would stop at the local bakery and pick up donuts and fresh baked bread. My mother had a great devotion to Mary and so named me after, Our Lady of Sorrows.

My father, however, was not a regular Church go-er. Easter, Christmas, Funerals, Baptisms and Weddings were the only times I can remember him going to Mass with us. My mother developed a serious illness when I was in my early teens and died when I was only nineteen. When she was dying I prayed that God would not take her, but He did. At that point in my life I questioned whether God really heard my prayers and if so, why He didn't answer them? I remembered the Nuns telling us to go to Mary, if we didn't have an earthly mother to talk to, so Our Lady became my constant companion. In 1965, my husband and I were married at a Nuptial Mass and were blessed with three children. I was your average Sunday Catholic. Yet, I think I went more out of fear of going to hell, than love for Jesus. In 1976, I was on a Retreat and during one of the talks we were asked three questions, "Do you know that you are a sinner? That God loves you? That He died on the cross for you?" I had never thought about these questions before; I wasn't even sure if God knew me. I knew I was afraid to offend God for fear of losing heaven and I thought I was a good person, since I tried to live by all the rules. As I thought about 'Jesus loving me and dying for me', I was brought to tears and eventually it changed my life. I realized then that I knew about Jesus in my head but did not know him in my heart and that I could only know him in my heart by inviting him into my life, which I did. This began my extraordinary journey of faith.