Good morning, my name is Diane McCloskey. I have been a member of St. Clare, since 1990 when my son and I moved to Detroit from East Detroit. I am the 5th of 6 children born over a 22 year period to first generation Polish parents.
Like many – I was puzzled why anyone would want to hear my story, but I answered the call and said yes and began the journey to this pulpit. There is nothing like having three months to think and reflect on your life and your faith to stir up all kinds of memories.
• I asked myself, just how did I survive this journey that has been my life?
• Have I grown through what I have experienced?
• Where is Christ in my life now?
• What have I done to share my blessings and faith with others?
Some answers came easily, others required more thought. You see my faith has always just been part of who I am. I learned the basic elements of our faith through mass and at St. Veronica School. This environment and observation of people have taught me additional lessons over time. At our house, we never talked about religion or God. We said our prayers each night in the privacy of our own rooms. Being Catholic – was just who we were and 60-75% of my neighbors were Catholic too. I was fortunate to have a lot to observe, from my loving parents, older brothers and sisters, neighbors, and aunts and uncles who shared what they had to help each other through life.
I took for granted that everyone had a mother in the Altar Society, and a neighborhood Rosary group that periodically met at their house. I took for granted the liturgy and music I enjoyed as my younger brother and I attended church with my mother and I still get warm feelings and hear her beautiful voice when I hear a hymn from my youth. I took for granted that when my dad retired when I was in second grade, he volunteered for the next 20+ years assisting the Little League, coaching, repairing equipment and raising money for uniforms and lighted ball fields.
I think I first realized just how much of his faith he put into action when he received an Americanism award from the local VFW. We were not surprised he won, but we were surprised to hear him say – “I just want to help kids enjoy their youth, since I did not have that opportunity.” He didn’t elaborate then, and he never talked about it, but we knew that my father quit school in 6th grade to work in the coal mines. It was the first of many times I was reminded that quiet actions can do great things.
I have always had a personal relationship with God, even when I wasn’t regularly attending mass. In the past few years, my faith as been re-energized in part due to the re-birth of St. Clare. I thank God every day for the many blessings I have received. When I am struggling with anxiety, I find comfort in the Lord’s Prayer and the Prayer to St. Michael. I still have questions like - How do I know when to let go and let God’s will happen and when I am supposed to take action? Clearly, my prayer journey is not over.
I know God has a plan for me – though as a project manager by profession, it’s not always easy for me to be patient and wait for the next chapter, I would love to know the plan so I am ready, but I trust that whatever the plan is, God has my back. Trust – a good word to describe my strongest feelings about God – I believe God has been with me each leg of my journey – he has loved me and forgiven me at my lowest and most painful times, helping me find what I needed to keep moving forward and providing reminders of his love through the actions of others:
• Like when my father waited until my son was born before he admitted himself to another hospital, dying two weeks later. In the midst of my grief, I realized just how much he loved me by not wanting to cause me extra stress during labor. Losing him at a time when I was questioning how I would be able to raise a child while trying unsuccessfully to save a very broken marriage led me to realize the type of sacrifices that real love requires and gives.
• My mother was diagnosed with several aneurysms and given a year to live unless she had risky surgery, instead she placed her faith in God, praying that when her time came – she would have a massive hemorrhage and die quickly and 14 wonderful years later – God answered her prayer.
• More recently, I was awakened by my husband, who was having an odd pain, somehow I managed to drive him to the hospital. The ER team took one look at him and 40 minutes later there were two stents in his left anterior descending artery which was 100% blocked. I was told most folks don’t make it and that the hospital had only received the equipment to do this surgery a few months earlier. I knew that it was God’s guidance that had got us to the right place in the nick of time.
I have always tried to see the reminders God gives us each day of how much he loves us, reminders to think about how we are living our lives, reminders to be the change we want to see in the world. Sometimes they are subtle and other times they scream – “hey, you, get moving sister!” - if I look hard enough, there is always something there to remind me.
I have been blessed with a strong and wonderful son, now a parent himself to a beautiful 7 month old daughter. I know in my heart that God helped us all on his journey to adulthood and my heart is full of gratitude. He and his wife are great parents and are building a lovely family together. His twelve years of Catholic education, including 6 years here at St. Clare, were part of his journey. I was elated when they chose to be married here at St. Clare by Fr. Andrew in October 2013.
And speaking of blessings, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the second chance God gave me to find happiness through marriage. By being open to a volunteer opportunity, which led to a part time job, I met my husband. He helped me to see myself not as the sum of my past mistakes but as a unique person with gifts to share. Through his encouragement I entered the world of nonprofit administration and have spent more than 25 years helping organizations help people.
My most recent reminder and a true story, happened in Lansing this week, when I was asked to introduce the keynote speaker at a conference. Jimmy Wayne was abandoned by his mother on the side of the road when he was 13, leaving him homeless. With the love of a kind family who took him in, he graduated from high school and college, and began a career as a singer/songwriter. He vowed never to forget his past – so he walked from Nashville to Phoenix to raise awareness of homeless foster kids. His advocacy has convinced three states to change their foster care age limit from 18 to 21. It was an honor and a humbling experience to introduce him and listen to his music and story - another REMINDER from God, that we are never alone.
Today, I continue to live my faith through action by managing our emergency food pantry. Thank you for listening to my story, I look forward to continuing to learn and am inspired by each of you. May Peace and Joy be with you.