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Steven Morris was a special needs child in Mrs. Bernaducci’s class. Steven was a thin African-American boy who was blind. 

His physical disability negatively impacted his self-esteem. However, over a period of time, the teacher realized that Steven had exceptional hearing.

One day she put the class mascot, a mouse, into the trash can. The scratching noise created a minor panic until Steven located the mouse. Mrs. Bernaducci exclaimed: “Steven, you are truly a wonder.”

The nickname caught on. The next year little Stevie Wonder, full of a sense of his own value, began playing the piano. Stevie ‘Wonder’ would go on to influence and change American music all because of Mrs. Bernaducci’s faith in him and her encouragement. 

We all need that kind of encouragement. Especially in times like we are going through now. Times that try our souls. Times that cause us stress and uncertainty. Times when we want some words of direction from God…..but God seems to be silent.

We need a word of encouragement. And that’s what we get when we once again share in the Eucharist. A little bit of bread reminds us that Christ died for us to prove God’s love for us.

Thanks to Billy D. Strayhorn

Five years ago I gave a lot of encouragement to a young man named Jeremy who was thinking about going into the seminary. I sat down with Jeremy a number of times and shared my personal ups and downs with being a priest. I hoped and prayed that I had inspired Jeremy and not scared him from going into the seminary. For various health reasons I’ve had (including the pandemic), I have had no contact with him over these last five years. 

On Saturday, June 19th, I walked into a different church for a funeral. The first person who came up and greeted me was Jeremy, now “Father Jeremy.” He was just ordained a priest on May 8th! He told me this was his first assignment as a priest. I was amazed!! I had tears in my eyes! So often all it takes is some encouragement and a lot of grace from God. 

Who might YOU encourage who needs YOUR support right now in their life?


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