Taylors parishioners share how God reached them

John and Mary Ann Sudnick and Elaine Myatt talk about why they give

(Editor’s Note: The following witness was delivered by Prince of Peace Church in Taylors parishioners John and Mary Ann Sudnick at the Piedmont Deanery DDF kick-off meeting.)

John: Mary Ann and I have never really considered ourselves “joiners.” We both have very demanding and time consuming jobs and as a result, our spare time was usually spent performing the chores that come with home ownership. Our participation in the parish had consisted of attending Sunday Mass and dropping our envelopes in the collection basket.

Mary Ann: For a long time it seemed that getting involved in church activities was not our style. The people involved in the parish activities never seemed like “our kind” of people, or we just didn’t have the time to get involved. Well, as the old saying goes “the Lord works in mysterious ways.” And any one who doubts the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit need only to talk to me and John. We will set them straight.

John: It’s amazing how trouble in your life draws you closer to God. Job instability, a wayward teen-ager, and geriatric parents threw us into a turmoil that we never could have imagined. Our independent, self- reliant approach to life soon needed an attitude adjustment. Both of us had prayed to God all of our lives. The prayers, however, had always been centered around fairly self-serving requests, a promotion at work, good weather for the golf tournament or a win for the home team. How naive and simple we were.

Mary Ann: Extreme trials in our lives caused us to turn serious attention to God and look inside of ourselves. This conversion from convenient Catholics to focused followers had a profound effect on how we live our lives and how we view our faith and its blessings. Don’t misunderstand us. God did not come down from heaven and solve all of our problems. However, the Holy Spirit did fill us.

John: Slowly I might add!

Mary Ann: He made us aware of the gifts God had given us. The time, talents and treasure that we already possessed began to materialize in a way that we had never realized. And as they did become more apparent to us, both John and I felt this overpowering need to share them with others — people we worked with and people we worshipped with. We felt so filled with the Spirit we couldn’t contain it. We had to share it.

John: These two self sufficient, independent souls became “joiners.” We got involved.

Mary Ann: Reluctantly, at first, but gradually we waded in up to our necks.

John: And its great. The more energy we put into the parish and it’s activities, the more energized we become.

Mary Ann: I remember reading the letters of St. Paul. They spoke of focusing your entire life on Christ, his teachings, and the spreading of his word. And, at the time I thought, “easy for him to say, he doesn’t have to be at work every morning at 8 a.m. or worry about whether or not the check book is balanced or deal with health insurance claims. In hind sight, however, he knew what was important.

John: We were lucky. The Holy Spirit touched our souls through the challenges and demands of everyday life. He helped us to realize our priorities. God and our fellow human beings come first. Everything else falls into place whether we want it to or not.

Mary Ann and John: We would hope that people in our Christian community will realize before tragedy strikes their lives, before they are alone and in trouble, before they have nowhere else to turn, that God has given them time, talents and treasure to cope with life and its challenges and to share with their fellow human beings. Get involved and share the life, the faith and the gifts God has given you. Start slowly, get accustomed to a new way of life. We assure you it will far surpass the existence you have been dealing with up until now.

(The following witness was delivered by Elaine Myatt from Prince of Peace Church in Taylors.)

My earliest memories of growing up in Mobile, Ala., with six sisters and brothers are fond ones. We all attended Catholic schools and we all have college degrees. My oldest sister graduated from Spring Hill College, a Jesuit institution.

My parents gave often to the church and tried to encourage their children to do the same.

All of us are now married and have children of our own. My husband Bob and I have been married for 27 years and have two children. Our children have been raised Catholic, although Bob is non-Catholic. However, he, having been raised a Baptist, has always felt that giving to your Church is extremely important. His mother, who was instrumental in his thinking, instilled this concept in him.

Hopefully, we retain much from our parents’ teachings and our children can be the beneficiaries of those teachings.

When I was asked to speak on “Why I give to the Diocesan Development Fund” my first thought was, “Because I just always have.” I simply never gave much thought.

I have always given to the DDF, in addition to the weekly envelope here at Prince of Peace, both I feel are an obligation. The amount that I give, though, has not always grown, even though the fund drive seems to increase each year. There just have been some lean years in the past. However, we have always given something. This is the key to the fund drive.

There are many, I’m sure, who can’t give much or anything because they may be on the receiving end of DDF.

I remember seeing a photo in The Miscellany a year or two ago that really jilted my consciousness. It was of a very elderly black lady. She was in her yard. You could tell from her home that she led a very different existence than most of ours and that life was certainly a lot tougher. The caption under the photo made mention that DDF was giving a helping hand.

The photo made me think of my elderly mother-in-law and my own mother and that under different circumstances that could have been one of them in that picture.

DDF was instituted to help those in need throughout the state of South Carolina. It is important for each and every one of us, who can give, no matter how much or how little so that these funds can help those of our state who need it most.