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Testimonial: Wanda

We love sharing the inspiring stories from our Sacred Sisters of their experiences with Women of Grace. Today we're hearing from Wanda. If you would like to share your story, click here! Stay tuned for regular testimonial stories.

Mary Showed me the Way

"I was baptized Methodist. I remember attending church with my family a few times a year when I was a child and I attended church school. When I was a teenager I attended church by myself and taught Sunday school at the Presbyterian Church. I felt something was missing. I spent the night with a classmate who was Catholic and attended mass with her family. I went to mass with classmates a few times, then I continued to go by myself. I felt like I found what was missing. I decided to become Catholic when I was eighteen. Mary soon became my Mother and confidant.

I never let anyone close, I didn’t have friends, and my family situation was not good. I suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse growing up by multiple males and blocked it all out. When I remembered all the bad things that had happened to me, I blamed and doubted God. How could He let these things happen to me. I felt lost and alone. I was hiding from everyone, including Mary. I thought I healed and was ok, then several years ago, when my father died everything came flooding back again. I began to doubt God again and I was in a bad place. My friend, Michelle, told me I was in crisis and handed me a number for a counselor. I called and went to counseling for a few years. Once I recovered mentally, I began my journey to spiritual healing. I felt I needed Mary our Mother more than ever after reading a book about healing from abuse. I began to pray to Mary for guidance. I believe Mary guided me to the Holy Spirit, and I began to listen. I joined Women of Grace and have gone on retreats. I know that Women of Grace and the retreats were where I was supposed to be, both have helped me with healing and forgiveness. I have learned I can forgive without forgetting, I now know it’s okay.

As my journey continues - I’m not hiding anymore, Mary knew when she needed a friend and went to Elizabeth. I now know I can go to a friend if I need to, I’ve learned it’s ok to let people close. Mary has been with me when I’m afraid. I can feel Mary’s presence at times. Through Mary, I opened my heart to Jesus.

When I was at my first Women of Grace Malvern retreat a few years ago I had a wonderful experience. I was very nervous just being there, this was a big step for me. I still can’t put it all into words. I was overwhelmed and overjoyed at the same time. During the healing Mass, I saw Jesus in the circle of the monstrance, I was overcome... I could not stop crying. Later we were asked to keep our eyes closed and just listen. I heard my story and my friend, Jennifer, who was sitting next to me placed her hand on my knee, she knew I had been abused. At one point I felt Jesus over me; I was shaking and crying, and at that moment I knew I was supposed to be there to continue to heal. I know Mary our Mother showed me the way. This was my new beginning.

It was after this retreat that I joined Women of Grace and completed the Foundational Study. Before I began the study, I felt I had to share my whole abuse and family story with my friend Jennifer, who was our group facilitator, so I would be safe. When I began this study, I was unsure about sharing or even speaking at all. I came to believe this was the group of women I was supposed to be with to complete this study. I grew so much with every chapter. Through my growth, healing and sharing; others in the group began to thank me for helping them, they saw my growth before I did. I am very thankful to my friends who are my dear sisters in Christ, my priest Father LaBaff, Johnnette and Women of Grace for where I am today.

I’ve had other women come up to me and speak to me about their abuse or someone they know. They don’t know me but just begin to talk to me. I now know the pain from all the abuse I endured is so I can help others. Without Women of Grace, I would not have talked to others about my abuse.

Two years after my first Malvern Retreat, I shared my experience with a young Army Captain that I worked with. We were traveling to a conference for the week, and I was reading my Magnificat in the airport. He asked me what I was reading and explained that it was part of my daily prayer and that I was Catholic. He said he was Catholic but wasn’t going to Church regularly. After I let him look at it, he thought the Magnificat would be a good guide for him. I spoke with him more about how much Church meant to me and how Mary had guided me. At that moment I shared my Malvern experience with him and described what Jesus looked like when I saw Him in the circle of the monstrance. At the end of the week on our way home, he let me know how much I had helped him, and he told me he was going to go to confession and return to weekly mass. After he went to confession, he sent me a picture of a prayer card the Priest had given him, it looked like the Jesus I had described to him. He then called me to tell me he knew we were supposed to have that conversation, that everything happens for a reason, and thanked me again. He continued to attend mass and was reading his Magnificat. He has since moved and still sends a message once in a while thanking me for guiding him. Helping others is such a blessing."



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