By: Jim – St. Louis Parish, Clarksville, MD
I grew apart from my both of my daughters after my wife and I separated. In 1999, I moved to take a job in California and later Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, I began living with another woman.
Many years passed and, though I was still separated from my wife, I slowly began to grow close again with my eldest daughter and wife. However, the separation between me and my youngest daughter kept growing. She would not return my phone calls, send letters, or forgive my behavior. I thought that I lost her forever. For that, I was troubled deeply.
In August 2016, I moved to Maryland from Kansas City to take a government contracting position. One of the first things I wanted to find was a church, so I created a map of several churches to check out. One Sunday I stopped by St. Louis and one of the deacons invited me in. I started attending mass on a regular basis and decided to join an upcoming Discovering Christ course at the parish.
I received an unexpected call from my youngest daughter on my birthday, which was around the second meeting of Discovering Christ. We had not talked for at least 17 years! She told me that she would be interviewing with two colleges to earn her way into a physician’s assistant program and wanted my advice. Asking for my advice was something she had never done before. I was so HAPPY! We talked for an hour, which was more time than we talked in the entirety of many years.
During the Discovering Christ retreat, my brothers in Christ gave me the strength to reach out to my wife to see if we could reconcile our relationship. My wife and I have reached closure and agreed we’re not getting back together. While we agree that we’re not together anymore, we know will be parents and grandparents together always.
I went through Following Christ a few months later. During the retreat, my Following Christ brothers encouraged me and gave me the strength to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 50 years. Although I had apologized to my wife and daughters for my past infidelities and selfishness, I had not yet confessed my sins to God. I was quite refreshed by the Sacrament. There is not a day that goes by now where I do not ask the Lord my God for forgiveness for my sins.
I have learned what forgiveness feels like - I never thought that my wife and daughters would forgive me like they have. So I know I must always forgive and remain patient in all my dealings.