"I think one thing that really struck me as a convert is the devotion of the priests," says Lisa Anderson.
Lisa and her younger sister were raised by two college science professors in La Grande, Oregon. Being scientists, her parents did not believe in God and raised their girls without religion. They even forbade Lisa's grandparents from reading them Bible stories or attending their Methodist church service during family visits. However, Lisa had exposure to cultural religion and fondly remembers being the angel in the Christmas play in grade school.
After getting married the summer she turned twenty-four, Lisa learned she had a cyst the size of a grapefruit in her ovary. Doctors performed several tests and a final prep before the biopsy revealed the cyst had disappeared—overnight. The doctors were stunned. Although the doctors had no explanation, she walked out of the hospital after the surgery knowing one thing: She was given a second chance.
Lisa had always been interested in religion, mostly because she thinks her parents made it the forbidden fruit. Lisa registered for a religion course taught by an atheist at Portland State University. She began attending a Unitarian church searching for something greater.
Eventually, Lisa landed at a Methodist church and even became their outreach coordinator. However, she was beginning to identify more closely with the Catholic view on abortion. One day, she was driving and realized, I am Catholic. Lisa entered RCIA and was confirmed Catholic at St. Juan Diego Catholic Parish by Fr. John Kerns in March 2005.
Lisa recalls that Fr. Kerns spent a lot of time with the RCIA candidates. A member of her RCIA group had a baby during the year they became Catholic. The night before she went in for her delivery, Fr. Kerns gave her a blessing with her RCIA group there. Sadly, a couple years later Fr. John also went to the hospital when she delivered a stillborn baby. Lisa thought the baby's funeral was so moving and touching. "I'd just been to a Unitarian funeral and trust me, it's not the same," Lisa remembered.
The devotion and dedication of priests has inspired Lisa in many ways. "I had seen a number of very dedicated pastors of Protestant churches but that devotion was basically on Sunday morning," she recalled. "The priest is there 24/7."
She shared two examples that particularly struck a chord from within. "Fr. John used to have two cell phones hooked to his belt. I asked, ‘Why two of them?' He replied that one was his regular phone and he turned it off if he was at a meeting or in the evening, but the other was the ‘Bat Phone.' He said it never was off, in case someone needed him in an emergency."
She recalled another story about Fr. Matt Libra, current Pastor of St. Rose of Lima, Portland. "Around 9 p.m., Fr. Matt said he had to leave our meeting to anoint a parishioner," she recalled. "So, after a long day and meeting, Fr. Matt trucked over the river to take care of this parishioner."
These stories, along with many others, have inspired Lisa to make a difference and support her church. Lisa has generously remembered Seminary Education specifically for priests serving the Archdiocese of Portland in her estate plans.
"For you as a...Catholic, this might not be surprising," Lisa says. "But, for me, to see this devotion by priests, and then, in turn, to see the formation of more Fr. Matt(s) and Fr. John(s) is what inspires me."
If you've been inspired by the devotion of priests in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, consider providing for their future with a gift from your will. To learn more, contact Carmen C. Gaston at 503-233-8332 or email@example.com today.
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