My grandparents, Baba and Zedo, were immigrants from Czechoslovakia and arrived like so many others at Ellis Island with the hopes and dreams of a better life in America. They arrived with very few personal possessions and just a few dollars in their pockets. What faith and courage the people of those times had! I am sure many of you could relate to this story within your own family.
My grandfather worked at Youngstown Sheet and Tube for almost fifty years and he and my grandmother raised five children. My grandfather never drove a car. He walked to work every day down the hill on Center St. My grandmother cooked and baked and was the matriarch of their home. She always found time to attend daily Mass and to pray her Rosary. My grandparents never acquired a lot of material possessions to speak of… no lavish vacations and no huge bank accounts. My grandmother’s jewelry collection consisted of a crucifix around her neck and a paper-thin wedding band. Every Sunday they would walk through the stone quarry with their family up the hill to their beloved parish, St. Elizabeth’s. Their faith and their parish were the cornerstone of their lives. It was there that they experienced the joy of living a Christ-centered life and met people that would become their life-long friends.
When I look back, my grandparents were two of the happiest and fulfilled people I have ever known. I have often asked myself, “How could the simple life they led be so fulfilling?” It took me many years to discover the answer, that being, that God and his Church were the center of their lives.
I believe that all of us can learn a very important lesson in life from our grandparents and great grandparents. The lesson is that all the material possessions in the world can never bring us the joy and fulfillment in our lives that we can find in our relationship with God and his Church. In the giving of our time, talent and treasure, may we be blessed with the sacred joy and happiness that only God can give to us.
God bless you, Deacon John