By Kathy-Ann Gobin
TRUMBULL—Faithfulness triumphs over tragedy was the message shared with those gathered for the biannual Magnificat breakfast.
Dozens of women attended the breakfast meeting, which started with fellowship and prayer at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull on Saturday, November 12.
The women spoke about the importance of praying the rosary and emphasized that the repetitive prayer is meant to help guide reflection on the grace of God and meditation on the life of Jesus Christ. Together, the women prayed one decade of the rosary before guest speaker Louise Carson, who is the coordinator of the Rochester chapter of Magnificat, shared how God embraced her through the difficult times in her life including job loss, divorce, teen pregnancy and the death of a grandchild.
“God brought all of us through stuff we didn’t necessarily want to go through,” she said.
Carson said she grew up in Rhode Island and, after completing school, got married and moved to Rochester, where she began her family. She and her husband had three children and, by all accounts, an idyllic life.
Yet, eight years into their marriage, she said she started to question why she was going to church. That questioning spurred her desire to attend a local weekend retreat that changed her life. The attendees were simply asked, “Do you know that God loves you?”
That simple question resonated with her and in that moment, she realized, “I didn’t have to do anything; all I had to do was be.”
While at the retreat, she went to confession and confessed a grudge she was holding. She said she felt so transformed afterwards that she decided to write the person a letter asking for forgiveness. She said during the retreat, she was drawn to surrender to God and in doing so, it may have been the preparation she needed for what was to come.
“It’s in God’s way, in God’s time to draw us to him,” she said, noting she developed an insatiable desire to read scripture following the retreat. “We can experience his love if we are open to him.”
Carson shared how her daughter ran away from home for five days when she was in middle school. She said her daughter hung out with the “wrong crowd” and became pregnant when she was 14 years old.
Tensions were high in the family home, and it was decided it was best if her daughter lived at Melita House, a group residence for young mothers and their children run by Mercy Community Services in Rochester.
“I had to hope that things would resolve. I had to believe good would come from this,” Carson said. “That good was Brandon,” she said as she proudly held up a picture of her then-newborn grandson.
When Brandon was four months old, her once-rebellious teen moved back to the family home.
“It was a lot of work for all of us,” she said as she, her two sons and her husband adjusted to their new living situation.
Sometime after, her husband came home, declared his love for another woman and moved out.
“He left with no indication of a problem,” she said to an audience of groans.
Carson said she prayed and asked God not to let her become bitter.
“If I expect to ever be forgiven by God, I would have to forgive (my ex-husband),” she said. “Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.”
Carson said part of her healing came when she applied for and received an annulment from the Church.
“Once it was done, I felt validated by the Church,” she said.
About a year or so later, her daughter heard her crying in the bathroom and gave her a clipping she found in a newspaper of a group called Beginning Experience, a faith-based ministry that serves those who have lost a spouse due to death, divorce or separation.
“I missed being special to someone,” said Carson, who at the time was single for 10 years. “I wanted someone to grow old with.”
This prompted her to go to Beginning Experience, where she eventually met Bob, the man that would later become her husband, who was beaming from the table not far from where she was speaking.
“It’s important to commit to having God at the center of your relationship,” she said, adding that they have now been married for 15 years.
But just six months after finding joy, her faith would be tested again.
Carson received a call from her daughter that her now-21-year-old grandson Brandon, who was a heavy equipment operator, was in the hospital. He was hurt at work. She would later find out that he was buried up to his shoulders in an unprotected trench. He died from his injuries.
Her words were met with gasps and sniffles from the crowd as she held up a photograph of the young man.
Carson suffered not only the loss of her grandchild, but said she also felt helplessness and pain as she watched her daughter suffer through the loss of her child.
Carson said she wanted her daughter to find solace in Mary, since the Mother of God also experienced the death of her child, Jesus Christ. She said she brought her daughter to a retreat, during which Mary revealed herself to her.
Carson’s daughter now works as a hairdresser, and Carson said she evangelizes to clients in her own way, including sharing an article Carson wrote about this experience that was published in “The Word Among Us.”
“Most of us have suffered grief, and we all grieve differently,” she said. “I believe it was not God’s design, but man’s error that Brandon died … I would encourage you to trust your life to him, to lead you to a place where you can trust him in your life.
Sally Silvestro, a parishioner at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Brewster, N.Y. who traveled with two of her friends to attend the Magnificat breakfast, said she was impressed with Carson’s openness and resilience.
“She just kept persevering and trusting in God, and God was always there, no matter how hard it was, he always had his hand on her,” Silvestro said.
Elaine Davis, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Fairfield, agreed.
“God is good all the time: that’s what spoke to me,” Davis said. “There was goodness that came out of the bad.”