St. Anthony’s is where it all began
By John Cooper
For The Catholic Messenger
A couple weekends ago, I watched as a woman made her way up Main Street with a walker to St. Anthony’s for the Saturday evening Mass. She had a look on her face of awe, joy and profound happiness, as she checked out our church. I had never seen her before and just thought she was a tourist (who liked historical churches). The next day after the 11:30 a.m. Mass, I saw the same woman walking with her walker through church snapping pictures . . . and still with that look of awe, joy and profound happiness. We started to talk and I was so taken with her story, I asked if she would put her experience down in writing so I could share it with you. Here it is…
My name is Cherie. I grew up in the Quad Cities. I graduated from Moline High School (in Illinois) in 1969 and moved to a place called The Lend Hand Club on Main Street when I was 18. Shortly after moving to Davenport, I started attending St. Anthony’s Church and I took Catholic instruction classes with Father James Grubb. I was so happy the day Fr. Grubb presented our class to the parish. I had wanted to convert to the faith for a while and that dream finally had come true. I worked in a nearby nursing home for a few years and attended daily Mass, then I left Davenport to attend college in Iowa City. After that, I moved to South Florida where God gave me the opportunity to work over 30 years in ministry to people with Autism and intellectual disabilities and to make vows as a Consecrated Virgin in 1999.
In 2017, I was diagnosed with an illness called Multiple System Atrophy-C. It’s a rare form of Parkinson’s that progresses rapidly and is fatal. I had to retire. I need a walker and depend on a feeding tube for all nutrition. I get out to daily Mass but I spend the rest of the day at home. This past year, I longed to come home to the Quad Cities and attend Mass at St. Anthony’s, where my walk of faith began. So, feeding tube and all, I packed up and flew to the Quad Cities for the weekend.
I attended the 5 p.m. Mass on 9-22-18. The hotel on 2nd and Main offered to give me a ride, but I said no. I want to walk up Main Street to church, as I had done so many times in the early 70s. Hobbling happily along, I managed the 2 blocks and when I got to 4th Street and saw the church sign for the first time in nearly 50 years, I became so overcome with joy, I had to sit down on my walker for several minutes before I could cross the street and come inside. It was such a blessing to hear the Mass, and receive holy Communion in the place I joined the Catholic community.
I have enjoyed many years of friendship with God and no matter what we go through in this life, I know God is kind, faithful and truly with us. I’m at peace with being ill. I’m grateful to be part of the church, to be a Consecrated Virgin and to call Davenport and the Quad Cities …home. St. Anthony’s Parish is part of my heart and spiritual journey and it’s a comfort to be reconnected again. Blessings on you and your ministries.
Let’s pray for Cherie!
(John Cooper is the pastoral associate at St. Anthony Parish in Davenport.)