One evening each week–for three years now–I pick up Aleksa, a 10-year-old previous neighbor and take her along with my son and me to faith formation class. This story began when Aleksa was a Kindergarten student. The children in our previous neighborhood spent a lot of time outdoors together, and the kids were always coming inside our house for a drink of water, or to grab a toy with which to play. I spent a lot of time outside on my driveway.
One day, Aleksa came inside and noticed my dining room table covered with jewelry making supplies, beads, flowers, wire, etc. Of course, she wanted a necklace and walked into the kitchen to ask me to make her one. I explained that I wasn’t making jewelry, but Rosaries, and I gave her a brief description of the meditative prayer. “Mrs. Michelle, someone in my class said God is dead,” she said. I was appalled that a Kindergarten student had heard such words. “God’ IS NOT dead,” I stated the obvious response to such a shocking statement. “He lives inside you.”
We worked together to make her a stretchy pink and yellow flower necklace with matching beads separating the flowers. “Do you want a crucifix, too?” She said yes, so I let her pick out the one she wanted (I had many to choose from. In those days the crosses were a point of research for me to learn more about the Church and its people.) She chose the papal crucifix.
According to her mom, Aleksa didn’t take our necklace off for two weeks.
Months passed, then one afternoon she came running onto my driveway with news, “Mrs. Michelle, I’m learning about God. I go to someone’s house every week to learn about Him.” More time passed before a neighbor and mutual friend remarked that Aleksa was baptized Catholic. I worked up the courage to approach Aleksa’s parents about her joining us each week for faith formation. They were happy to let her come along.
It became the day both she and my son looked forward to each week. Aleksa received First Holy Communion last year. Before her Communion, I gave her a Rosary. A few days later I ran into her and her family in the grocery store after school, and I noticed she was wearing it around her neck.
I can’t know if Aleksa’s family will continue forming her faith at home, I do know that she has the faith and knowledge she needs to decide for herself in future years. We don’t always know the direction our lives will take. We plan, but those who live in the Spirit struggle to allow God’s will to prevail over self. I found His will, and the Blessed Mother’s intercession, in Aleksa’s transition from repeating a classmates erroneous, “God’s dead,” (an unfortunate reality in many families today) to receiving First Holy Communion and weekly faith formation participant.
Imagine the world shift if we each took one person along with us to faith formation. Who knows, maybe the beads and crosses on my dining room table will ultimately save a life for Christ. Only Jesus and Mary know for sure, but I like to believe it’s so. She certainly brightens mine each week.