The Journey Home – A story of Vincentian Love across Canada
Let us put our Faith into Acton (National Theme SSVP Canada for 2013-2014) (Lynn L’Heureux Calgary)
“I would like to embrace the whole world in a network of Charity” (Blessed Frederic Ozanam)
In February this year, St. Michael’s Conference in Calgary had a decision to make on a case which was very far reaching. This family, single mom Marilyn (not her real name) and 7 year old autistic son, Michael (not his real name) had reached the end of their financial rope. Housing in Calgary is very costly and the pension Marilyn received for her long term disease could not carry them through. Marilyn made the decision to move home to Dartmouth Nova Scotia as she wanted Michael to know his grandmother and she wanted to place him in a school system known for success with autistic children in Dartmouth.
At the SSVP meeting on February 27, 2014 Tony L’Heureux brought forth a suggestion to use the relay system across Canada which we had been successful 4 times in the past. This required starting Marilyn off with enough money to get to her destination. Each Regional President was called to help with the contacts and no one said “no”. Everything fell into place with such love and joy. The gifts from the Regional Councils were the gift of time and talent. However, treasure entered the picture from each area. The most important was the presence of Vincentians who really cared.
First thing we did in Calgary was establish people who would pray each day of their journey. We had several covering each day and hour. Vincentians prayed across the country. Marilyn embraced each prayer from so many people and she was truly overwhelmed and felt the love. She knew God was with her and Michael. Special thanks to Jim Paddon for suggesting we were following Ozanam in a network of charity and for his immediate action to move Marilyn and Michael through Ontario (so big). My heartfelt thanks to Paulette Crawford President and the Vincentians for giving a resounding yes to this journey even though funds were a little low at the time, due to helping immigrants and flood victims and the high cost of Calgary housing. If I forgot anyone, please forgive me.
Day 1: The weather across Canada was not very good. The movers were booked, personal items were packed into the car and gift cards were purchased. Marilyn and Michael left Calgary at 10:35 Wednesday March 5, 2014 (Ash Wednesday). The weather was in their favour. . The 727 K’s were uneventful, however they arrived in Regina very tired but happy to be welcomed by Carol and Chris who provided her and Michael with accommodation, food, gas and with the most important gift of Vincentian love and Spirituality.
Day 2: Thursday March 6, 2014. Marilyn and Michael were off with full tummies and a full tank of gas. Craig and Simone Cameron of Winnipeg were notified by Carol of the departure time. As pre-arranged Marilyn contacted Craig an hour prior to her arrival in Winnipeg. Everything was in order for her stay with a friend in Winnipeg which hit a little glitch and to the rescue came Craig and Simone who gave them accommodation in their home. Michael has made a hit with his new friends. This generosity was amazing and you could see God’s hand in the situation. Craig and Simone decided Marilyn should sleep in while they played with Michael. They truly bonded. They filled her car, fed them and sent them off with prayers to Thunder Bay
Day 3: Friday March 7, 2014. Jim Paddon suggested they may want to stop sooner as the drive would be hard and weather was changing. However, weather and roads were good and Marilyn decided to push on to Thunder Bay, Ontario. She was very tired and had already spoken to Eileen Pelletier who had arranged for accommodation at the Comfort Inn which included Breakfast. Eileen met her in the morning and prepared her for the trip with gas, food etc. Marilyn is so thankful for the continuing prayers and returns them to all who is helping her.
Day 4: Saturday March 8, 2014 left for Sault Ste Marie to meet Nathan Cicchelli at Vincent Place. As Nat’s shift was over, his workmate gave her directions to the hotel they set up for them. They left the next morning with gas food, alive with the prayers and love from Vincentians and heading to Sudbury.
Day 5: Sunday March 9, 2014 arrived in Sudbury and met with Rod and Maria Harte and 2 daughters. SSVP owns a house next to the thrift store where they were put up overnight as it was conveniently vacant. They had a marvelous time with the Harte family and memories of their stay are embedded on their hearts. Michael had fun playing with the girls and being entertained. Maria says, “We are so grateful to be part of this wonderful relay.” The experience for Marilyn and Michael was awesome and Marilyn felt the prayers and said, “God is driving with me. We are safe.”
Day 6: Monday March 10, 2014 arrived in Ottawa. They stayed with a long time friend and met with Bernie Hartlin in the evening. He gave her weather forecast and directions to Quebec. Due to the brutal storm Bernie suggested they stay and wait out the storm. They stayed for a few days and left in good weather and once again with gas and Bernie’s great directions to La Pocatiere. Bernie called Jacquelyne Lord advising her of their departure.
Day 7: Thursday March 13, 2014. Jacquelyne and Gerard Lord met with Marilyn and Michael and made them feel most welcome. They enjoyed a home cooked gluten free dinner complete with soup, desert and muffins. Jacquelyne had planned this menu and enjoyed the creating and shopping. Their love and service to Marilyn and Michael made Marilyn feel once again the hand of God and a tremendous respect for SSVP. She had muffins to go for the trip which Michael loved as did Marilyn and a full tank of gas and they headed on for New Brunswick.
Day 8: Friday March 14, 2014. They arrived in Moncton NB where they stayed at a roadside hotel using the emergency funds we supplied and Marilyn tucked away. There was no Vincentian to greet her in Moncton as there was no SSVP. This is the first day without Vincentian Family but the prayers continued and she has always felt blessed on this trip.
Day 9: Saturday March 15 arrived in Dartmouth and met John MacKinnon who had arranged for a hotel close to her rental as her furniture had not arrived. When the furniture finally came there was a cost overrun and John was able to not only help her with the move in but handled the cost overrun until St. Michael’s Conference in Calgary could reimburse St. Peter’s in Dartmouth. John also helped her in looking for a better place as the accommodations rented sight unseen are not suitable. The landlord has let her out of her lease. Special thanks to Valerie Getson who helped us to connect with John. Mission is accomplished Marilyn and Michael are home. Please continue with prayers.
The Canadian Vincentian family is so special and we are truly blessed to have Vincentians who would come to the aid of strangers from outside of their area and be a team of success. The total trip was 4964 Kilometers and you accomplished this with the hand of God on the steering wheel and in the welcome support. Jacquelyne called you “Angels” and you are angels living the Mission Statement to serve Christ in all we serve. God bless all of you. The entire trip 4964 Kilometers 3084.5 Miles, of Vincentians put their faith into action and being a servant.
Marilyn’s words: “We appreciate all the kind hearted, warm hosting and pointing in the right direction; the financial help to make it from Calgary to Nova Scotia. Without you all, we could not have made it! It was a huge trip which was mostly bare roads in the middle of the winter. Often, when we arrived we got snow, but woke up to find highways clear. God’s graciousness was HUGE. We were moved by God’s support and the support of the Catholic Church – Society of Saint Vincent de Paul throughout the country. When I first heard how this would work, I was amazed there could be such connection and so very thankful we could have friends to connect with along the way. As many of you know I drove with God the whole way. I have a chronic illness and my son is chronically ill as well. Most of the time, I was constantly praying. When God told me to go for the growth of my son’s life, I hesitantly took up the charge knowing how much of a trip it would be. God held us the whole way. . . Spiritually, physically giving us strength, emotionally, and mentally through your help, prayers and gracious presence. I thank God for all of you and continue to ask Him to Bless You for your Love abundantly!! With kindness and a thankful heart. . . .”