LENEXA — A grandmother’s Christlike witness inspired Greta McCall, a senior at St. James Academy here, to pen a winning entry in the Maryknoll Student Essay Contest.
McCall won first place in Division II (grades 9 to 12) out of 5,000 entries, and received a $1,000 prize at her school on Feb. 20. The prize was presented by Greg Darr, regional director of the Mission Education and Promotion Office of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, located in Chicago.
The topic was “You Will Be My Witness,” and students were to write about someone they know who has been a witness for Christ. In her winning essay, “God’s Clay,” McCall described how her grandmother allowed God to “shape, form and mold her throughout her life” — even as she was dying.
The essay will be printed in the May/June issue of Maryknoll magazine and posted on its Web site at www. maryknoll.org/winners.
God’s Clay By Greta McCall
Clay can take different shapes and forms when molded. On a potter’s wheel, in the hands of the artist, clay begins as nothing, but ends as a magnificent work of art, each piece different and unique. God’s people are clay in His hands. Every day He shapes, forms and molds us to become the people He wants us to be. If we allow ourselves to live our lives the way God has intended, we become a vessel for Him to fulfill His individual plan for us. My Grandmother, or “Grandma-ma” as I called her, lived out her Catholic faith in such a way. She allowed God to shape, form and mold her throughout her life, thus becoming a witness for Christ.
Grandma-ma’s life centered around Jesus Christ. Grandma-ma was so filled with God’s love that somehow it radiated from her. All those who knew her were touched by her kind words and gentle ways and were influenced by her Christ-like way of life. Likewise, she had a significant impact on me. When I was a baby, she would often take me to eucharistic adoration late at night. She would place me underneath the Blessed Sacrament to sleep while she continued to pray. It was as if Grandma-ma was placing me in the arms of Jesus to hold me and guide me throughout life. As I grew older, she would often take me with her to daily Mass. As a small child I remember holding her hand, walking to and from church. I remember visiting with Grandma-ma and the parish priest, patiently waiting to receive yet another blessing from him. Most of all, I remember that Grandma-ma taught me that nothing was more important than receiving the Eucharist often; she told me it would bring many graces and help me get through life. As I grew older, I realized how important it was for me to continue to live my life by the example Grandma-ma gave me. Therefore, I decide to make daily Mass a part of my everyday life.
As the years passed, Grandma-ma continued to be an incredible Christ-like example. No matter what I was experiencing, Grandma-ma always had inspirational words that offered sound advice. However, her most profound example came without words or advice. It was nearly two years ago when Grandma-ma was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Because of the location of her tumor, there was not much that medical experts could do. She never complained and never asked why.
Instead Grandma-ma decided to live every moment she had left to the fullest, giving thanks to God for the gift of each day. She became even closer to Jesus. Her prayer life consumed her days. Just as she taught me over the years, she relied on the Eucharist for strength and courage. She continued to attend daily Mass and eucharistic adoration until she was bedridden. She completely surrendered her life to God and was a servant to His will. She accepted her mortality with grace, dignity and ultimately, complete faith. In turn, God rewarded Grandma-ma with a peaceful and holy death. Through Grandma-ma’s Christ-like actions, she taught all those who knew her how to live, and how to die. Truly, she was a witness for Christ.
Grandma-ma’s influence upon me cannot be denied — she has helped define my personal faith. As a result of the beautiful example of Grandma-ma’s faith-filled discipline, I realized I can do nothing alone. I cannot be successful in life without following and accepting God’s will. Even though I fall sometimes, God still shows His mercy. Through the Eucharist, He has given me the strength and courage to carry through difficult times in my life.
I now know that in the hands of God, the artist, Grandma-ma allowed Him to sculpt her from nothing into a magnificent work of art.
Accepting His will and grace, she had become God’s masterpiece; a beautiful vessel for His Son, Jesus Christ.