Story by Lois Rogers, Correspondent
Illustrating her own relationship to God, whom she referred to interchangeably as “Abba, Daddy and Poppy,” internationally known evangelist Maria Vadia urged the hundreds of women before her to become consumed with the fire of faith.
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“We have to respond when doors are closed,” she said. “We have to praise the Lord with a Christian lifestyle. No matter what, you have to respond in a Christian Way.”
Vadia, founder of the “Jesus Is Lord” chapter of the Magnificat whose nine books include “Healing Is for You,” “There is Power In Your Tongue” and “An Arrow in His Hand,” was a keynote speaker Sept. 9 for the Catholic Women of Zion’s annual daylong rally in Holy Family Church, Lakewood.
Hundreds of women from around the four counties of the Diocese and beyond gathered to make the most of this signature event in a year that marked the 28th anniversary of the founding of CWOZ and the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic movement that helped to inspire it.
CWOZ was co-founded by Mary Ann Collett and Father John Campoli, a priest of Voluntas Dei Institute, to serve the needs of women for physical, spiritual and emotional healing as well as provide a sense of connection to lead to a deeper, more wide-ranging experience of faith. Collett organized and presided over the rally.
With a theme of “On Earth as It Is In Heaven,” emphasizing the need to recognize God’s presence on earth, particularly in trying times, presentations by Vadia were among the highlights of the day.
Coupled with the spiritual nourishment of Mass – celebrated by Father Michael Sullivan, pastor in St. Mary of the Lake Parish – Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praise and worship and healing prayers, music, dance and vendors offering a range of spiritual goods, the rally proved to be, as diocesan Chancellor Terry Ginther described it, a “banquet laid out by God for us gathered today as sisters in Christ.”
Ginther spoke on behalf of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who was unable to attend the rally due to a commitment to celebrate the 400th anniversary of St. Vincent de Paul with Vincentians from around the Diocese.
Ginther noted that the day also celebrated the Memorial of St. Peter Claver, “another of the great saints which inspire our journey and continue to intercede for us in heaven.”
Explaining his ministry among the African slaves of Colombia, she spoke of St. Peter Claver as “a man of deep prayer, unbounded energy and steady devotion,” who realized that it was his relationship with Christ that nourished his spirit and gave him “the courage to go on when so many problems surrounded his work.”
Ginther described St. Peter Claver as a wonderful example for those in attendance to follow. “I don’t know about you, but I’d like to be known as a woman of deep prayer, unbounded energy and steady devotion,” she said.
“When we look to our relationship with Christ, to nourish our spirits and give us the courage to go on, I hope you will find that this day will nourish your spirit and give you the courage to go on in faith to meet the opportunities that come your way.”
Invitation to Relationship
Such opportunities appeared in the morning and afternoon, when Vadia took the stage and offered emotional and often joyous insights.
Vadia was introduced by Collett, who urged everyone to listen to the evangelist’s compelling invitation to leave their comfort zone of limiting Christian life to Sunday Mass as they reach out and embrace a more personal and fulfilling relationship with God.
Vadia asked her listeners, some of whom had traveled from as far away as upstate New York, to recognize that they can handle stresses of the temporal world in three ways. “You can remain quiet. You can grumble and complain, or you can thank God without ceasing and focus on the Holy Spirit.”
“I want the Holy Spirit all over my life,” she said. “Praise the Lord when trouble comes into the atmosphere and everything starts to change. When trouble arises, just start laughing,” she said, quoting Proverbs 31.
“Enjoy the experience of your whole body as you say, ‘It’s not my style to be stuck in the mud,’” she continued, explaining that’s how one builds a throne to God. “Speak differently. Put on the garment of praise instead of heaviness. Enter into thanksgiving in every circumstance, and the atmosphere will start to change.”
“Are you depressed?” she asked by example. “Then start to praise the Lord. Get out and enjoy life. Start dancing with Jesus, and invite Jesus into your atmosphere.”
She also spoke on evangelization, urging the crowd to be carriers of the Word of God everywhere they go.
“God is a healer. With God, you can overcome depression, despair, anxiety and poverty,” she said, adding that in this 50th anniversary of the birth of the Charismatic movement, “Get to know the seasons of joy and proclaim it as the spirit of God!”