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‘My greatest inheritance’

May 6, 2020

Editor’s note: This is an installment of an ongoing series featuring how Catholics of the Diocese of Ogdensburg are living out their faith. To suggest an individual to be featured in this series, please call the North Country Catholic at 315-393-2920 or email dfargo@rcdony.org.

By Suzanne Pietropaoli
Staff Writer

FORT COVINGTON – While many “cradle Catholics” wander away from their early faith experiences, Kathleen (Mainville) Lauzon could not be more grateful for hers.

“My Catholic faith is my greatest inheritance,” the life-long St. Mary’s parishioner relates. “My father and mother loved and lived their faith, which they shared with their seven living children. They also connected us with our little brother, Michael, who lived only three days. Mom taught us to ‘talk to little Michael’ about any issues, problems, joys. This very personal relationship with him made God, the angels, and the saints very natural and very real to me.”

Similarly, growing up a block away from St. Mary’s helped ground the family in the sacramental life of the Church.

“Five generations of my family – including me and my daughter – have been married on the very same spot at St. Mary’s. Monsignor (Thomas J.) Robillard was our wonderful pastor – and his mother, who was also his housekeeper, greeted us with treats whenever we knocked on the back door. The Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Mary’s School taught me in grades one through six. These women of faith were and are my heroes!”

Not surprisingly, Lauzon considered joining their ranks, until her mother pointed out that her daughter’s difficulties with obedience would make religious life especially challenging. Yet her career choice would ultimately be shaped by her faith.

“I knew that, by the grace of God, practicing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy would help me get to heaven, which I knew was the ultimate purpose of my life,” she said. “So, after high school I went to CVPH Hospital School of Nursing in Plattsburgh and earned my R.N. in 1976. I started working in maternity at Massena Memorial Hospital, and after Michael and I were married in 1980, I became a school nurse in Fort Covington.”

Between her growing family and her nursing work, Lauzon’s days overflowed with opportunities to nurture, counsel, and comfort. For her, each person, each patient, is a gift from God and a possibility not to be missed.

“I try to live the charism of the smile,” she explains, “sharing God’s love with everyone I encounter by a smile or a kind word. I pray that they will see Him in me as I look for Him in each one of them.”

Always seeking to follow God by serving Him in others, Lauzon remembers 1996, when after 20 years of nursing, she felt called to become a nurse practitioner.

It was a pivotal moment. The training schedule would be grueling: four days a week at Community General Hospital in Syracuse, two days a week at a local doctor’s office, a steady diet of tests and exams – and of course, the commuting. Characteristically, Lauzon set out to discern whether God really wanted her to follow this daunting path.

“After consultation with my husband and my parents, and much prayer, I filled out the application to the program,” she said. “I needed to be sure that this was God’s will and not some sort of prideful desire on my part. So, I took my application packet to the church and laid it at the foot of the altar and prayed, ‘Thy will be done.’ I was accepted even without an interview. It was certainly the most difficult year of my life and that of my husband and children.”

“But there were also many profound, grace-filled moments,” continues Lauzon. “Although it broke my heart to leave my family every Sunday afternoon, God was never far away. I remember developing a habit of saying the Rosary along the way, offering it for the intentions of those in various houses I passed on my route. Even though I did not know those people, I could pray for them just as I prayed for my own family. I also realized that I could offer my tears to our Blessed Mother who could offer them to Jesus, as a way of slaking His thirst on the Cross.”

During the 24 years that she has worked as a family nurse practitioner at Leroux Health Center, Lauzon has continued to respect the both the spiritual and physical needs of her patients.

“When people are ill, they are at their most vulnerable,” she said. “Like Christ alone in the Garden on Holy Thursday, they are often alone, scared, knowing the pain that is ahead for them. When I have to tell someone they have cancer, it is easy to see Christ in them and to care for Him in them. I do tell my patients that I will pray for them, and they are appreciative.”

Now, amid Covid-19 concerns, Lauzon notes that she is seeing increased anxiety in her patients.

“People are worried and afraid,” she said. “It is difficult to try to take care of people without touching them. People need physical contact, and right now that is impossible.”

This level of caring could not have been sustained for so long without God’s grace, Lauzon affirms.

“The most Holy Eucharist has always been my sustenance; His Body and Blood restore and strengthen me,” she said. “I also love exposition, and the opportunity to be quiet in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Though it can be hard to quiet my mind, that is the best place to do it – to approach our Lord in conversation. The saints and angels are still my friends, especially St. Michael the Archangel.”

Another constant has been Lauzon’s service to her parish: directing the choir, serving as a lector and Eucharistic minister, teaching religious education classes, training altar servers, and chairing the parish vocations committee.

Today, Lauzon expresses gratitude for the blessings of nearly 40 years of marriage, for the couple’s “three adult children, one great son-in-law, and a beautiful granddaughter.”

Of her remarkable passion for sharing God’s love with others, she says simply: “I am merely His creation. I just try to use the gifts He has given me for His greater honor and glory.”

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