But there’s more! Roses of Sts. Thérèse and Vincent, Part II — a column by Paul Moore
“In My Father’s House” / By Paul Thomas Moore
I wrote last November in “The Roses of St. Vincent” about two identical twin girls, Rose Ann and Rosalyn, born on Sept. 26, 1935, in St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The column closed with Rose Ann’s passing on Oct. 1, 2019, (the feast day of St. Thérèse), and her subsequent memorial service at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Peoria.
Now, I’ll shift the story to a different country (Canada), and a different family (mine), but with some of the usual suspects: St. Thérèse, St. Vincent, and roses.
I mentioned my devotion to St. Thérèse in a previous column. This devotion was further strengthened during my long-distance online correspondence with my wife-to-be Marilou while I was living in Nova Scotia, Canada.
ENTER AUNT THERESE
One day, I wrote to Marilou that I’d spent my lunch break in a church near my paternal grandmother Mary’s gravesite. It was Grandma Mary’s birthday, Oct. 1, which I also noted was the feast day of St. Thérèse — she who had promised to let fall from heaven “a shower of roses.”
When Marilou responded to my email later that day (this was before smartphones), she told me that at approximately the same time I was at the church, she had been strolling through the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, and had bent down to take in the scent of a rose.
I believe the “faith of our fathers” — and mothers, aunts, uncles, friends, and people we don’t even know — is alive and well. I believe the communion of saints is the spiritual breeze that keeps us aloft, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
But wait, there’s more! (I know I sound like a K-Tel ad for Ginsu knives).
Upon my Dad’s birth, which had been a difficult one, Grandma promised God that if he granted her the blessing of another healthy child, and it was a girl, they would name her Thérèse. Five years later, my Aunt Thérèse was born. She entered the novitiate of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sept. 26, 1956.
She was the last child to leave my grandparents’ home. The next day the stillness was broken by a phone call to announce the arrival of their first grandchild — me — on what is now celebrated as the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul.
But there’s still more.
WHAT TO MAKE OF “COINCIDENCES”?
Aunt Thérèse had always loved the name Louise, and she asked my parents if they ever had a daughter, would they consider naming her Mary Louise?
As much as Mom and Dad loved Thérèse, when my sister was born (after five boys), they named her Mary Sarah after both grandmothers.
It would be another 30 years until 2000 when Mary Louise (Marilou’s given name) and I were married, and Aunt Thérèse received the answer to her prayer, as I did mine.
What do I make of all these “coincidences”? Well, first of all, I must admit I’m three-quarters Irish, which explains a lot. Past that, I believe it means that signs are all around that God loves and cares for us across continents and generations. I believe the “faith of our fathers” — and mothers, aunts, uncles, friends, and people we don’t even know — is alive and well. I believe the communion of saints is the spiritual breeze that keeps us aloft, whether we are consciously aware of it or not.
It’s in the softening we feel to be kind to someone, and in the pull at our spirit to kneel down, or at least incline our head before a statue of Our Blessed Mother, honoring her humility with some of our own.
To paraphrase what I wrote at the close of the first column of this couplet, I’m sure all the blooming roses of Saints Thérèse and Vincent in my life are pure coincidence . . . very pure.
Heaven forbid any Design.
PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Marilou attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills, Illinois. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.