TRUMBULL—“Jesus, I trust in You.” This was the message that resounded throughout the personal testimony of Cathy Chomiak, a two-time cancer survivor and keynote speaker at the recent Magnificat breakfast. On Saturday, November 6, for the first time in two years, this ministry to Catholic women gathered together at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull to share in fellowship, prayer and a meal.
Roxane Angotta, assistant coordinator for Magnificat, introduced Chomiak as “compassionate and hospitable,” one who relies on the Holy Spirit to get through difficult times. It is those difficult times that have shaped Chomiak’s life but which have also showed her that God is everywhere. “I learned to accept that what He gives us— and when—is not always easy.”
Born with congenital hip dysplasia, Chomiak faced challenges from the time she was a child but learned to live her life, as broken as she saw it, by trusting in God. After college, at only 21 years old, she found it necessary to care for her mother whose health was declining. Despite this difficulty, she kept an open mind to God’s plan. During this ordeal, she said, “I saw evidence of God in all the people I met.” One of those people was her future husband Peter. “He showed me love,” Chomiak said, nodding toward her husband who was present at the breakfast. “He loved me broken and whole with all my imperfections.”
Throughout these challenges, she said that she felt God’s hand on her heart, most especially when she received a diagnosis of breast cancer at age 46. “Often, all I could do was pray,” said Chomiak, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church in Ridgefield. “I felt Jesus kept asking me to trust Him. I learned to do so through all the sickness and brokenness. ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ became my mantra.”
As Chomiak began to heal, her husband became ill, leading her to feel betrayal, confusion, and abandonment. It was through God that she found hope, as well as a sense of peace in praying the Rosary and a sense of gratitude in the support she received from her friends and community in Ridgefield.
Chomiak shared a story with the women of Magnificat about the power of the Rosary that she witnessed in an unlikely place. While in the ER one day with her mother-in-law, Chomiak lent her Rosary to an older woman who was concerned for her husband. The two continued to encounter each other throughout the day in the waiting room and in the radiology wing, along with Bernadette, a nurse whom Chomiak discovered was named for the saint. While the women set praying together and sharing the Rosary, Bernadette witnessed what Chomiak said was like a miracle. “She said she saw an aura around us as we were sitting together. It was a most beautiful day. Our experience in the ER was so filled with God,” Chomiak said, again proving her belief that God is everywhere.
When Chomiak’s cancer returned a few months ago, she said she ceased to understand it; instead, she feels God allowed it, holding onto her trust in Him and her acceptance of what He has given to her.
In addition to Chomiak’s address, participants prayed a decade of Rosary, took part in praise and worship led by Deacon Steve Hodson, and enjoyed a full breakfast and fellowship with those they hadn’t seen in months. “I’m so happy to have this start up again and to see people,” said Marian McCarthy of Christ the King parish in Trumbull. “This is such a great way to connect.”
The Fairfield County chapter of Magnificat was incorporated in 2002. This organization, begun in Louisiana in the early 1980s, is now present throughout the United States and in 10 countries. According to local coordinator Carol Flynn, the next Magnificat breakfast is planned for the spring of 2022 and will be held at the Ethan Allen Inn in Danbury.
By Emily Clark