Is it only me? Have you noticed the Michaelites have a fascination with true stories? Fr. Andrew, Godfather of the true story decided I had a story. He is also very decisive, my story his decision.
Older people like me, are more private than public. With Young people today, if it doesn’t go viral it isn’t a story. Now father’s having the parish telling stories! Don’t laugh….you could be next!
My name is Bob Louwers, I am a lifelong member of the parish. I have 6 children, 16 grandchildren. Our roots are long and deep, they go back to St. Clare Grade School. My wife Joan and I both graduated from here. Some refer to those days as simpler, happier days. Remember though, the time was during WWII. Each morning we lined up in front of the school. The school and the convent and the church were all one building, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. All of us had family or close friends in the war, my hero Uncle Bob was a fighter pilot in the Pacific, so it was serious times, and we were more united because of it. During my St. Clare years I hardly knew Joan, she was my little sister’s best friend. In 1957 when I returned from the military in uniform, Joan was all grown up and at my house with my sister. She instantly fell in love with me…I’m sure it was the uniform.
In 1960 we were married, we left St. Clare and moved to St. Matthews Parish for 7 years. Then we moved to Brazil for 3 more years before we returned home again in 1971 to St. Clare Parish. Over the last 45 years we have participated in many ministries here, Joan more so than myself. For 35 years she has been the head sacristan, sometimes at St. Clare she is referred to as the church lady. For my involvement at St. Clare I’m almost always referred to as Joan’s husband. My story is about Joan’s husband.
About a year ago I was home by myself, Joan was off to an all-day conference. It was a beautiful day and I needed to get some yard work done. So I set out about my business and got to work in the yard. After a few hours I started feeling a little funny and realized I’d been working for over four hours. I figured I was dehydrated and needed something to drink so I stopped and had some water. Well I didn’t feel any better after that and then I started to feel nauseous and light headed, just not right. I knew something was wrong so I took a shower, got cleaned up and decided to walk across the street to Beaumont Hospital. I live on the corner right across from the hospital, normally a very busy intersection. Well on this day not a car, pedestrian or ambulance in sight. I slowly crossed the street and with every step I became weaker. Now I was getting dizzy and with no one in sight I leaned against a light pole. For the first time I actually thought I might die right there on the street 100 feet from the entrance to the emergency room. I was scared, then I saw a blurry vision, not sure if I thought it was Jesus or what but I couldn’t move. As they got closer I heard him say Bob, do you need help? I put my arm over his shoulder and he helped me into the emergency room. We were walking very slowly and I remember saying to him, do you think we could move a little faster. The next thing I remember is waking up in the ICU with monitors on and IV’s in me, then I saw an angel, the angel of mercy the “church lady” who very tenderly said “If you don’t call 9-1-1 the next time I’ll kill you myself. The next 24 hours I wrestled with the mystery of why I was still here? It was a simple question but very difficult to answer. I finally concluded it was a mystery and I was where God wanted me to be and I left it at that. A couple weeks after I got home I found out who the neighbor was who helped me. I went to his house to thank him for being a Good Samaritan. I said to him I thought you worked days, how come you were walking down Cadieux at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Friday? His reply was that he didn’t feel good and he called in sick that day, about 1:30 that afternoon he started having severe chest pains so he walked to the emergency room! They monitored him for about 1 ½ hours gave him some medication and sent him home. That’s when he saw me leaning on the light pole. So a guy who thought he had a heart attack ends up helping a guy who didn’t think he was having a heart attack. The blind leading the blind! God works in mysterious ways.
About a year later at the behest of Fr. Andrew to tell my story the question WHY haunts me again. Suddenly the fog lifted. I’m here not because God wants me here, but because He gave me new life to go where He really wants me to be. My purpose for the rest of my life is to close the gap between where I am and where God wants me to be. Isn’t that what Christian life is all about? Closing the gap from where we are to where God wants us to be. To get out of our comfort zone to stretch ourselves to use our God given talents to their fullest. The only mystery that remains is how much time we have to do this.
This morning at Beaumont when I was distributing Holy Communion on 2SE, (Joan’s floor when she worked as a nurse at Bon Secours now Beaumont) I was greeted by an RN than used to work with her who said “Good Morning Mr. Joan”. When you are married to a superstar you have no identity of your own. I went into a patient room, while chatting they asked what parish did I belong to? I said St. Clare, they said wow I hear great things about St. Clare. It makes me think of all the different stories we will hear from different people that have more similarities than differences. For example, just 3 years ago St Clare parish was on life support, was literally dying on the vine, with no help in sight. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit with the help of St Michael the Archangel sent us first responders in the form of the Michaelites, to give us CPR, help us through emergency, get us operational and out of Intensive Care to the position of rehabbing, where we are now. Now our job as a parish is to close the gap from where we are now to where God wants us to go. In all my 80 years I have never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit as strongly as I do now in this parish. I know it, you know it, we talk about it, others talk about it. It is a real Resurrection Story, certainly a story worth repeating. And it is not only our story it is a true story. God Bless and thank you.