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Posted: February 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Flashback

Doing a little self-Googling this weekend, I found a Catholic blog, The Ginger Jar, had picked up a story I wrote at my internship at the Huron Daily Tribune. I wrote this story in 2006, but the subjects really stuck with me through the years. What a nice little surprise to find online.

Family has 3 serving in religious orders

(Originally published in August 2006 in the Huron Daily Tribune, www.michigansthumb.com)


By Lindsey Wahowiak

Huron Daily Tribune


BAD AXE — A little more than 25 years ago, a 19-year-old woman was working at the Franklin Inn. Every once in a while, men would come in and try to flirt with her. “What are you looking for in a husband?” they would ask. One day, she got fed up and started listing off her necessary qualities. By the time she finished, the man who was flirting with her had given up.

“Only Jesus Christ could live up to that,” he said.

It turns out, 25 years later, he was right. Sister Mary Stella, the daughter of Meinard and Georgeana Guza, is home in Bad Axe celebrating her 25th anniversary as a Sister of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary of Fatima. Her visit coincides with visits from two of her 11 siblings — both of whom are also serving different religious orders.

Sister Mary Stella comes home from Castel Fiorentino, near Florence, in Italy once every two years to visit with her family, which grows every time she returns. Her siblings Sister Cynthia and Brother David come home once a year. Sister Cynthia has served for 34 years with the Daughters of St. Paul and is currently working in Philadelphia. Brother David is part of the Oblate of the Virgin Mary and works in Alton, Ill.

Though it was more common a generation ago, today it may sound strange that three children from the same family would all grow up to serve in religious orders. For the three siblings, it seemed only natural. The Guza home always has been a place for prayer, the siblings said.”(Even now) Mom and Dad are the first ones on their knees in the morning and at night,” Brother David said.

This religious background paved the way for the siblings to be called to their vocations. All 12 of the Guzas’ children went to a rural school in Verona and attended catechism classes in the summer. They attended church every Sunday.

Sister Cynthia, the second oldest of the 12, said she was inspired by the stories of saints, especially Saint Therese, the Little Flower. She was also extremely shy. At 16, she entered the convent, only to find out that her order works through the media to spread the word of God. Today, she often works with the public on a daily basis in one of her order’s bookstores

“Sometimes the Lord tricks us,” Sister Cynthia said. “There are always some ulterior motives, but God purifies those.”

When Sister Cynthia would come home to visit her family, she would tell her younger brothers and sisters stories about the saints. Sister Mary Stella and Brother David said her stories helped them realize their callings.

“I went to Italy to visit, to see something of it, before I had to make a life choice,” Sister Mary Stella said. “I felt very strongly that it was something I needed to do.”

When Sister Mary Stella met the Oblate sisters, she said she knew immediately, she had found the order for her. She was able to develop and use her creative skills in a variety of ways there, from arranging flowers at church to teaching summer campers arts and crafts. She creates statues of animals and people by painting and gluing small rocks together. She makes tapestries with cloth and realistic-looking flowers from melted pop bottles.

“I was attracted to it because you could be a sister and you wouldn’t lose yourself,” she said.

Likewise, Brother David visited Italy and found he could do lots of hands-on ministry through his order. He has served as a maintenance person at a retreat area, a youth minister and is currently an assistant chaplain at a hospital in Illinois. He also makes rosaries and rosary bracelets.

“I went in with the intention of serving with the gifts God had given me,” he said. “I’m very happy and very pleased with my vocation.”

When the siblings do visit with the rest of their family, it’s a constant learning experience. They have 36 nieces and nephews with another on the way in a few weeks. The three said they still feel connection to their brothers and sisters, even when they are apart. They write letters and call each other on the phone occasionally, but prayer and their upbringing keep them together.

“They say family life is a vocation known to all,” Sister Mary Stella said. “Faith is the foundation of all the families, but there’s different ways of carrying that out. It’s a difference we’ve all come to appreciate. Each one has a special quality that distinguishes but it’s not that you can put it on a scale.”

The siblings enjoy their vocations, and though it keeps them far from their home in the Thumb, they say they wouldn’t have it any other way. However, it hasn’t always been easy. All three said the road to their vocation has been a difficult journey.

“But how do you learn things? You have to go through that turbulence,” Sister Mary Stella said. But for this week together, there’s no turbulence to speak of. The siblings are happy to be together with their family once again.



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