Student at St. Mark's prayer answered
Pictured: St. Mark student Riley Holleran holds a copy of Pope John Paul II’s beatification prayer. (Photo provided by Lisa Spencer)
HUNTERSVILLE — Earlier this year, St. Mark Catholic School sixth-grade religion teacher Chris Ostrom was faced with a simple question by one of her students: What does it take to become a saint?
In Ostrom's words, here is their story:
In early January, with all the talk of Pope John Paul II's beatification, I was blown away by one of the students in my sixth-grade religion class, whose actions exemplify what it truly means to put your faith in God. In Thessalonians, we read "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
During religion class one day, one of my students, Riley Holleran, asked how someone becomes a saint. This topic seemed to weigh heavily on her mind. Little did I know she had her own agenda: Riley's aunt had Stage III cervical cancer and had little chance for survival.
I explained the process about how two miracles had to occur through Pope John Paul II's intercession, and those miracles are thoroughly investigated by the Church. Throughout our class discussion, Riley's questions started to gain interest among her classmates. Some wanted to know what they could do.
My challenge to them was that we needed to pray to Pope John Paul II to intercede on behalf of Riley's aunt. With faith we can move mountains, I said.
The next day, I handed out copies of Pope John Paul II's beatification prayer. Riley proceeded to distribute the prayers to everyone she knew and explained her aunt's story. I never imagined a 12-year-old would have such hope and faith. My sixth-graders couldn't wait to help.
I reminded my students that we all wanted Riley's aunt to recover and feel better, but we needed to remember that we were praying for God's will. Who knows? Maybe we might end up praying her soul into heaven, or bringing back fallen-away Catholics in her family.
At this particular time in our world, with all the destruction and devastation occurring, it is so refreshing to see a young person's faith shine in the midst of darkness. Along with her faith, she has become a constant reminder to her family, friends and religion teacher just how important it is to rely on God during the most difficult times in our lives.
In June, Riley reported to the class that her aunt's cancer had gone into remission, and as of November, she remains cancer-free. The students were amazed that their prayers were answered.
— Amy Burger and Janis Boone, special to the Catholic News Herald
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- USCCB: Stories, videos and more about the Year of Faith
- Annusfidei.va: Vatican's Year of Faith website
- Catholic Relief Services: Features and stories about Year of Faith
- My Year of Faith App: Daily prayers, reflections and thoughts
- Video Catechism for Teens: A free online resource for youths and young adults
- Weekly video series: “C4: Ignite Your Catholic Faith”
- OnceCatholic.org: Geared for people who have left their Catholic faith
- Explore the Sacraments: An 8-part video series on the Sacraments
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy