Finding God on Gannon’s campus: Nathan Demarest discusses the importance of hope

Gannon asked students about religous perspective and worldviews in a recent online survey.

Gannon asked students about religous perspective and worldviews in a recent online survey.

Hello, dear reader. I want to share a story with you for this week’s column.
Once every week, some of the students who live in the Bishop Trautman House (where I live) head to the east side of Erie to tutor some young children by helping them work on their literacy skills.
There are four children who come regularly – three girls and a boy. All of them love coming to the Catholic Worker House and reading with us, and they’re always full of energy too. We look forward to seeing them as well, because we’ve really grown close to them.
This past Friday afternoon, my friend Nick Fuga and I went to the Catholic Worker House to read to the children.
We got to the house, unlocked it, and made sure everything was ready inside. As Nick was sweeping some of the snow off the porch, I walked over to meet the kids. I knocked on their door, and immediately a couple of dogs started barking.
When the door opened, the kids’ grandmother was there to greet me with a huge smile.
I have to pause the story here to tell you about Grandma Ann. She is an unsung hero. The family has it very rough. They don’t live in the best living conditions, and they don’t have a lot of resources.
Grandma Ann is the glue that holds that family together. She works so hard every day to provide for those kids. Whenever we have an event every semester for those children, she is there. Whenever we come to the house to pick the children up, she is there.
Anyways, once the three girls were all bundled up to walk through the snow, I walked with them to their aunt’s house to pick up their cousin.
Now, I have to remind you that this was the Friday before Valentine’s Day, so all of the children were sugared up on candy, and let me tell you, they were WILD. As challenging as it was, Nick and I still read to them and made crafts with them before we walked them back to their houses.
When we got back to see Grandma Ann, we ended up talking to her for over an hour. We could tell she was at the end of her rope. She looked exhausted.
The children went to be with their dad while Grandma Ann talked with us. She said that she looks forward to every Friday when we come, because it gives her the chance to fall to her knees and pray.
I was stunned.
Here is a woman who, as far as we know, works so hard as the primary caregiver to these children, and she spends the time she has to rest in prayer. I started to cry.
She pulled me in for a hug and told me not to cry – she said we were such an inspiration for her! I replied, “Grandma Ann, you are an inspiration to us.”
This past Friday, I was struck by the passion, strength and selfless love of a grandmother for her grandchildren. I don’t know what the father’s involvement is in their lives, or any other relatives’ involvement.
Please pray for their family. Pray for all of them – all those children in our community who have no one in their life to take care of them. Those children are blessed to have Grandma Ann in their lives.
If you are interested in supporting Grandma Ann and her family, do not be afraid to email me. But, most importantly, please pray for her and for her family. Thank you.
NATHAN DEMAREST
[email protected]