May 7, 2021

The influence of the Blessed Mother leads a woman to follow a pro-life calling

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima and a large rosary adorn the space where Caroline Routson, a member of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, prays in her home. (Submitted photo)

A statue of Our Lady of Fatima and a large rosary adorn the space where Caroline Routson, a member of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, prays in her home. (Submitted photo)

(Editor’s note: In honor of May as the month of Mary, The Criterion recently asked readers to send in their stories of the impact of the Blessed Mother on their life and their faith. This week presents the first of four installments featuring the responses received.)
 

By Natalie Hoefer

The Blessed Mother is known by many titles, some based upon her virtues and some based upon an apparition.

For Caroline Routson of All Saints Parish in Dearborn County, an experience of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Grace led to a devotion to Mary as Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of unborn children.

The experience occurred in Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where six teenagers reported having apparitions of Mary starting in 1981. The Vatican has declared it is not yet certain if the apparitions are of supernatural origin.

However, Pope Francis approved of parish and diocesan pilgrimages to Medjugorje in May 2019. (For more on the Vatican’s stance regarding Medjugorje, go to www.medjugorje.org/church.htm.)

“I was on pilgrimage, waiting in line for a blessing,” Routson recalls. “I found myself beneath a statue of Our Lady of Grace.”

What happened next as she looked at the statue was a private experience that changed her life.

“I felt an electric current rush over me from my head down to my feet, passing back up from my feet to my heart,” recalls Routson. “I felt the weight of my many years of selfish, self-centered sins, justified and forgotten in my mind. I felt how I hurt Jesus.”

She felt a call from the Blessed Mother to make an honest confession.

“I also heard in my heart, ‘The harvest is rich, but the laborers are few’ [Lk 10:2]. I felt I was being called to work in the pro-life ministry, as this evil of abortion is so great,” says Routson. “My attention turned to Our Lady of Guadalupe,” patroness of unborn children.

She received training to be a sidewalk counselor outside of an abortion center in Orlando, where she and her husband lived.

Routson, who worked in real estate at the time, purchased a small home to take in pregnant women in need.

“I did that for eight or nine years,” she says. “It was very fulfilling, but it just got to be too much. Between that and my job, I was gone all the time.”

But her call to pro-life ministry was not finished.

“Our daughter in Oxford [Ohio] has nine children, two of them with special needs,” Routsen says.

So she and her husband retired from their jobs in Orlando and moved into a house neighboring their daughter’s to help care for the children.

Routson says the experience under the Our Lady of Grace statue in Medjugorje “was the turning-back-to-Jesus conversion in my dead cradle Catholic life. During my teens I had lost respect for purity, chastity, the Eucharist and the Church.

“Thank God for confession, the sacraments and Our Lady of Grace!” †
 

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