In matters both big and small, we have a friend in Mary

Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.
Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Rick Cheek

Mary and the rosary have been a very important part of my conversion to the Catholic faith.

The first October of the year I came to the Catholic Church I asked the question: What is this month of the rosary, and what is the rosary? At the advice of Wanda Foresee, the director of religious education at Immaculate Conception Parish in St. Marys at the time I came into the church, it was one of the first prayers I learned as a new Catholic.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Mary and the rosary. It was my commitment to pray this prayer every day that started me on a journey that has deepened my faith in ways that are hard to explain.

As I was preparing to give a talk to a group of catechists, I was looking for some input and wisdom from one of my colleagues. He shared an article from the September issue of Sower Revue magazine about Mary as the first catechist.

The author talked about Mary being a teacher and the first catechist and, for that matter, one of the first youth ministers. Her words from John’s Gospel to the servants when they ran out of wine at the wedding feast at Cana — “Do whatever he tells you” — ring clear to what I/we should do in our lives on a daily basis.  In those daily and difficult struggles in life when decisions are not clear, that’s when I would take it to Mary and listen to her tell me, as she did those servants many years ago.

Our family recently remembered the fifth anniversary of the death of our son Jared and his good friend and fellow seminarian Matty Molnar. Mary was the first person I went to when I received that call at 5:30 in the morn- ing on Sept. 15, 2005. In that prayer, I not only asked for Mary’s help for Jared and our family, but also for the Molnar family who also lost their son and brother in the same accident.

Jared posted a quote on his blog before he died. I found it a few weeks after his funeral: “I think God chooses a few to support the rest and I don’t know how this whole prayer thing works, all that I know is that it does. I would be NOWHERE if people hadn’t prayed for me.  I know that sacrifices my friends and family make for me are all that sustains me sometimes, especially when prayer is difficult.” God chose Jared and Matty to support us here. One of Jared’s fellow seminarians told me after his death that it wasn’t unusual to find Jared in Marytown Chapel at two or three in the morning praying a rosary.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve gone to Mary in the last 20 years. Losing someone you love, someone you’re close to, isn’t very easy. But when you have Mary to turn to, it’s very comforting to know you can get through these difficult tragedies with the help of our Blessed Mother. It is there that I find peace and solace when I do whatever she tells me.

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