Conversations with Mom: My Son, the Father
In this, the Year for Priests, the following is one in a series of stories in which the mothers of Marian priests give the "inside story" on their sons' vocations. In this installment, we speak with Annette Lamoureux, mother of Fr. Matthew Lamoureux, MIC.
By Sarah Chichester
When she was in grade school, Annette Lamoureux's father left her family, leaving her mother to raise her and her brother alone and in poverty.
Annette grew up attending a Catholic school run by the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters. At the end of the school day one nun, Sr. Andrea, would sternly ask Annette to remain after class. Instead of a punishment though, she would give Annette a box of food to take home. In this way, this wise nun kept the other kids from knowing about the hard times Annette's family was experiencing.
Sister Andrea kept an eye on Annette throughout her schooling, watching over her and guiding her. In eighth grade, Annette, even though she did not have much, bought a plaster statue of Our Lady and painted it for Sr. Andrea.
The kindness of Sr. Andrea stayed in Annette's heart. Several years after she got married she visited her. During their visit, Annette revealed to Sr. Andrea that she had been married for a while but had no children, though she desperately wanted them.
Sister Andrea took Annette into the chapel and, looking her in the eye, said, "Annette, I want you to go up to the tabernacle and ask Jesus for a baby." Annette knelt at the front pew and prayed. But when she returned to the back of the chapel, Sr. Andrea turned her right around, saying, "No! I want you to go knock on the tabernacle door and ask Jesus out loud for a baby."
Annette walked to the front of the chapel, passed the pew she just knelt in, entered the sanctuary and stood in front of the tabernacle. Then the fatherless, childless woman reached out and knocked on the little golden door.
"Jesus, can I have a baby?"
Afterwards, she didn't think anything of it, but Sr. Andrea followed up by sending her a mother's manual and a book of prayers.
Shortly thereafter, Annette and her husband, George, went on a Marriage Encounter weekend. Annette was moved to reflect on the gift that her husband was in her life. He was a blessing, a kind, holy man. Her heart softened, and her anxiety over not having any children melted into prayers of thanksgiving for the blessings and gifts that she had in her life.
Four months later she was expecting Matthew.
Ten years after that, with Matthew and his two sisters in tow, Annette again found herself visiting an old friend, Sr. Andrea.
Annette was initially worried that Sister wouldn't recognize her, and she felt bad that she hadn't kept in contact with her over the years. Her worries were in vain as the spunky nun opened the convent door with a delighted, "Annette!"
Sister Andrea enjoyed meeting Annette's children. At one point Matthew asked about the statue that his mom had painted and given to Sr. Andrea. Sister Andrea got the statue and showed it to each of them. She then turned to Matthew and said, "I want you to have this."
At first, Annette protested, saying, "Sister, I gave that to you to remember me by!"
Sister Andrea smiled, "Annette, I will always remember you. But I have my reasons."
Truly, she did. Annette's son Matthew joined the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. He was ordained to the priesthood June 25, 2005, at his home parish, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, outside of Philadelphia, Pa. Father Matt currently serves as pastor at St. Patrick's Parish in Yorkville, Ill.
Reflecting on Sr. Andrea and the good, faithful priest that Father Matt has become, Annette says, "I really believe that she is one of the people that prayed him to the priesthood."
Through her loving witness, Sr. Andrea taught a poor girl to approach the Lord with trust, and in this spirit of trust Annette received a great gift, Matthew, whose name means "gift of God". Annette has, in turn, given this gift back to the Church and the people of God, in the person of her son the priest.
So, Annette, once fatherless and childless, has been blessed by our Heavenly Father, with Fr. Matt, who, with his sisters, is a gift, and an answer to a knock at a little golden door.
And what about that hand-painted, plaster statue of Our Lady? Ask Fr. Matt — he still has it.