Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Angelique Ruhi-Lopez - Florida Catholic
CORAL GABLES | Couples bearing “the cross” of infertility were invited to get “sunburnt” by the rays of God’s mercy during a Mass that marked the start of National Infertility Awareness Week — and coincided with the feast of Divine Mercy.
“I invite you to be sunburnt with the touch of the Lord’s grace and love today, with his concern for you and your welfare,” said Father Michael Davis, pastor at Little Flower Church in Coral Gables, who celebrated the April 23 Mass.
This marked the second year that an Infertility Mass was celebrated at Little Flower, to pray for couples struggling to conceive or sustain a pregnancy. Little Flower has the only parish-based infertility ministry in the Archdiocese of Miami.
“We welcome those especially today who are longing for the gift of parenthood. We pray for husbands and wives and we pray for the holy vocation of marriage. We place ourselves within his healing rays of mercy and love,” Father Davis said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 1 out of 8 couples in the United States face impaired fecundity that affects their ability to conceive.
“We all bear different forms of the cross,” said Father Davis during his homily. “It’s a mistake to think that we are defined by an inadequacy, a perceived defect. We are called to recognize our unique and God-given dignity. Never should we identify ourselves by the things that we’re going through.”
“I know there are many here today that are waiting, desiring greatly for new blessings,” he added. “I know how deeply you long for that grace and the perceived fruitfulness that comes from that love. Infertility does not define you today. We walk in faith and not by sight.”
James McKeown, who attended the Mass with his wife, Sarah, said he was encouraged by Father Davis’s homily. “I liked what he said: that you’re not defined by this. By baptism we are sons and daughters of God. We are not defined by our insufficiencies.”
The McKeowns and other couples stayed behind after Mass as Father Davis remained at the altar to anoint anyone who desired a blessing and anointing of the sick.
Vanessa and Alex Arvesu were among those attended the Mass and were anointed.
“I needed to hear these words,” said Alex Arvesu.
“We are grateful for the support,” Vanessa Arvesu added, tearfully.
Toward the end of his homily, Father Davis asked Gloria Fonts Suarez to share her testimony. Fonts Suarez is the founder of Little Flower’s infertility ministry, called “Eventually: Walking in Faith through Infertility.”
“In 2009, our journey of infertility began and we picked up our cross,” said Fonts Suarez. “The cross of infertility is a heavy, scary and lonely one; the cross many did not speak about or dare ask about. It was one that took turns, surprises, tears, disappointments but eventually, much joy.”
After four years of struggling with infertility, Fonts Suarez and her husband, Francis, found out on Father’s Day that they were pregnant with their son, Andrew, their “walking miracle,” who is now 3 years old.
“We are eternally grateful for the gift of our son, but I will never forget our journey and for this reason, we continue to walk with others,” said Fonts Suarez. “When we began this ministry here at Little Flower, we did so with the hope and prayer that we could touch the lives of other couples and provide them a place of support and love for our Lord and this journey.”
Since last year’s infertility Mass, the support group has met three times at the parish hall, with about four to five couples in attendance. The meetings usually start with refreshments, followed by a reflection and an open forum, where couples can share if they choose to. Prior to this year’s Mass, the group also held two nights of reflection.
“We hope to provide some sort of emotional support, camaraderie, a community, a safe haven. We’re there to understand the emotional and psychological component, and how prayer and sacramental life help as you are discerning the best decision for your family,” said Fonts Suarez. “It’s an opportunity for couples to feel they have an outlet where they can meet with other couples dealing with this struggle. We offer the availability and access to discern what’s best for them through prayer, reflection, and sacraments.”
Fonts Suarez said the group is open to people from any parish. Their goal is to meet quarterly and their next meeting will likely take place before summer.
“If I didn’t have my faith, this would be 20 times harder,” she said. “If I didn’t have my faith and some sort of compass to navigate this, I would feel very lost."
FIND OUT MOREFor more information about “Eventually: Walking in Faith through Infertility,” contact Gloria.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-338-1446.