May 19, 2023

2023 Evangelization Supplement

Walking in faith, my purpose

By Anita Bardo

Anita BardoSometimes evangelization is as simple as sharing your story. When did you first become aware of Jesus’ presence in your life? Is there a moment when that awareness deepened significantly leading to a stronger relationship with Christ? Here is an example:

My relationship with God had been pretty consistent, but I knew there was something missing.

Then in 2010, my oldest grandson was born. He was born with a few complications, but nothing we felt we could not handle. Through his first few months of life, he went through several surgeries.

Elijah is his name, and he was the joy of our lives. He had his own personality he shared with us individually. Elijah was on the mend and healing—so we thought.

Then, at 4 months old, we were given the news that none of us expected: Elijah was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. This news broke my spirit and my heart and devastated my daughter.

While sitting in a moment of silence, I thought, “How could a newborn have stage four cancer?” I never asked why, I simply asked God for guidance and understanding. I reached out to my family, my spiritual director and close friends asking for prayer, more so for my daughter than for me.

The days became gloomy, frustrating and sad. All we could do was make Elijah comfortable, singing to him and staying fervent in prayer. On July 8, 2010, Elijah was called back home to God. He was perfect and peaceful, and we were grateful for those five months and four days of his life. He brought a change in our lives that will forever be remembered.

In reflecting on how things transpired, I asked God what this meant, and these answers continually came to mind: Your life is going to change, your faith will become stronger, and your outlook on life will be promising.

Weeks, months and years passed, and my life did begin to change. My spiritual maturity increased, and I began to understand how my life would begin to shift. I thought at this moment, “What is my purpose?” At that very moment, I prayed for direction. I looked at Scripture to give me a better understanding. I reflected on Isaiah 30:21: “And your ears shall hear a word behind you: This is the way; walk in it, when you would turn to the right or the left.”

Last August, I was laid off from a job of 22 years. Then on Nov. 3 last year, I was offered a job I was not looking for but prayed for, working in evangelization ministry for the archdiocese. Love of my neighbor was present. The invitation of God to take a leap of faith was present. I’m forever grateful for my true purpose in life—ministering to the local Church—and the satisfaction of being OK with God’s plan.

Our stories that we share open doors to reach others in ways that we may not know. But it’s what God is calling each of us to do: to be vulnerable, to be uncomfortable, to be authentic in who we are and in following Christ as a disciple.

Being hope for others, being a resource for many—that truly is my walk with Christ.

(Anita Bardo is coordinator of evangelization and discipleship for the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization.)

Local site Links: